WORLD | May 1, 2023

Cleopatra was not black

Al Edwards

Al Edwards / Our Today

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Hollywood needs to check itself

Cleopatra (Photo: Radio Times)

House of the Dragon, Elizabeth, and Bridgerton all prominently feature black actors in situations which call one to suspend belief.

But then again we are living in the woke era where everyone must be given a chance regardless of circumstances.

Netflix has released “African Queens” a series produced by Jada Pinkett Smith. Here Cleopatra is played as being black by the English actress Adele James.

The Egyptian government has distanced itself from the project insisting Cleopatra was not black and did not have negroid features.

Leading Egyptian archaeologist Dr Mustafa Waziri barked, “ This is a falsification of Egyptian history and a blatant historical misconception.”

Many in Egypt are condemning the show and Netflix for trying “to promote the Afrocentric thinking…which includes slogans and writings aimed at distorting and erasing the Egyptian identity,” said lawyer Mahmoud al-Semary.

Bridgerton (Photo CNN)

“Let’s get something straight – Egyptians are not black and do not wish to be black. Yes, we are part of the African continent but we are not negroes. It is incredulous to watch Robin Hood and Friar Tuck being played by black actors. Next you will be seeing Denzel Washington playing Caesar in a Hollywood movie. It’s crazy to see the entire world being blackwashed,” said film critic Gyasi Amon.

It has been said that Israeli actress Gal Gadot will be playing Cleopatra in a major movie and this has found greater favour in Egypt than a black actress playing the part.

Back in the sixties, English screen legend Elizabeth Taylor made the role famous.

Make no mistake, there is a great aversion to this Netflix version.

“Netflix is trying to provoke confusion by spreading false and deceptive facts that the origin of the Egyptian civilization is black. Cleopatra was Greek meaning she was light-skinned not black,” said Cairo’s former Antiquities Minister Zahi Hawass.

House of Dragons (Photo: Black Enterprise)

We are in a time where there are demands for greater inclusivity and some say that must be seen in the entertainment industry.

However when you watch many of these shows, you think,  black people 500 years ago in major positions of power in Europe? Wow! We are going from one extreme to the other.

Egyptian actress Somaya Elkhashab tweeted: “Identifying Queen Cleopatra as black for fulfilling modern African American fantasies is pure theft of Egyptian history and yet an attempt to rewrite history’s greats.

“Blackwashing a Greek Queen proves the obsession with white women, and this wouldn’t help stopping racism at all.”

The Swedish white supremacist Henrik Palmgren who runs Red Ice TV wrote, “Netflix is-yet again blackwashing a historical white character , this time it is Queen Cleopatra that is transformed into a black woman despite that we know she was white -of Macedonian/Greek descent so was all of the rulers of the Ptolemy dynasty.”


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