When I was a young girl every Easter after church, my sisters and I and a host of cousins would visit my great-grandmother’s home and without fail we would watch The Ten Commandments starring Charleston Heston as Moses, Yul Brynner as Rameses and Ann Baxter as Nefertiri. It was quite spectacular to my young mind and even though I had seen it several times I was still entertained. I did not know much about Egypt so there was no controversy for me in regards to the race of the actors portraying these biblical figures. However, once I matriculated to college and begin to be exposed to books about Africa and Egypt, I noticed that for some mysterious reason people were always haggling over who the ancient Egyptians were. I remember in my sophomore year taking an art history class where slides were shown of Egyptian artwork and the professor remarked that it was artistic convention for males to be painted reddish brown and females a yellow color. In regards to what the ancient Egyptians called themselves Kemit, white scholars always claimed that it referred to the soil, while black scholars claimed it referred to the color of the Egyptians themselves.
As I read other books about Egypt it was always the same evasion of who they were if the books were written by a White person. They could be anything but Black as in identified with the other people of the African continent. If they were Black, they were still somehow White as they would be Black Hamites, belonging to the Caucasian branch of humanity or they were the ever ambiguous Mediterranean people, whatever that is. It was like watching an elaborate shell game. But my own eyes and common sense told me these people were indeed Black Africans. One look at the sphinx even with the nose disfigured reveals a black phenotype consistent with what we see of Black people today. Cheik Anta Diop in his book The African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality, presented in my view the best case for the race of the ancient Egyptians which I do not believe any Western Eurocentric scholar has ever successfully rebutted. Unlike, my art history class he was comprehensive and presented many photos of artifacts my art history professor conveniently left out.
I know of no ancient civilization that ignites people’s passion like Egypt. Even today in 2014 the ancient Egyptians stir up controversy. The Huffington Post reported that Ridley Scott’s upcoming movie Exodus: Gods and Kings has been criticized because it cast white actors in the lead roles of Moses, Tuya and Joshua and non-whites as slaves, servants and thieves. They further quote Scott as saying, “There are many different theories about the ethnicity of the Egyptian people, and we had a lot of discussion about how to best represent the culture.” So in the mind of Ridley Scott the racial identity of the ancient Egyptians has been settled as per his casting of the lead roles without a disclaimer and it is only the ethnicity of the ancient Egyptians that is in question as in they were white Frenchmen as opposed to white Swedes or something. I guess he never read the bible or Diop so that his confusion remains.
Ridley’s comment continues the pattern of some Whites who traffic in the subject of ancient Egypt of obscuring the identity of the Egyptians as if there is still no idea of who they really were. However, if they are to be depicted visually they must certainly be depicted as Whites. This subject is worthy of a dissertation in and of itself, but since this is a blog I will try to contain it to broad parameters, but suffice it to say on this side of the resurrection of Jesus and time of the gentiles, the white governing gentiles for some reason feel a need to dwell in the pyramid of Ham who is clearly identified in the bible as belonging to the Black race. I believe the reason for this is that they have portrayed Whites as being the originators of ancient civilizations they admire and to admit that the origins of Egypt was Black would not only disturb this notion, but it would also imply that a Black civilization enslaved a White people group in the ancient Hebrews since they too are portrayed as White despite the veracity of it.
I do not believe that Whites want it ever to be known that Blacks were at one time dominant over them in any shape, form or fashion as it would not fit the paradigm that has been constructed. Also, it is because of this need to conceal the Black race as the foundational root of ancient civilizations that Whites have been kept in bondage psychologically as well as Blacks because from the Black perspective they have never been in a position to be an oppressor only the oppressed. From the White perspective they bear the perception of being the only racial group who has perpetrated human destruction and injustice.
Moreover, the drive to eradicate Blacks from history keeps racism alive because the white consumer of faulty history and logic believe they will remain at the top of the dung heap forever. However, such a stance of making Whites the center of all things great as it relates to civilization and all things evil that are an inherent part of all civilizations is illogical and off balance. But if it serves to keep the status quo going then the collusion of optical illusion as per Ridley Scott’s movie and other such movies involving history must continue.