Recently, the world witnesses the peak of liberation in all aspects of life; there is no kind of obstacles that hamper the healthy preservation of human rights, especially obstacles about race and colour. Since July 13th, 2013, which is the start date of the famous demonstrations of the “Black Lives Matter” campaign in the USA, Canada, and Australia; political correctness has made its way to solve or at least to compensate for all the historical damage caused by the “superior white” mentality. But the question here is how far have we gone since the murder of George Floyd and the following demonstrations?
Is Blackwashing becoming the way to compensate for the setbacks of white societies throughout history?
On April 12th 2023, the trailer of the Netflix documentary “Queen Cleopatra” premiered causing controversy when portraying Queen Cleopatra and all native Egyptians in the “documentary” as black people, with a complete rejection of the historic title, and with a falsified assumption that current Egyptians are actually from Arab origin- according to Afrocentric beliefs.
Recently, on May 10th 2023, the blackwashing documentary was aired on Netflix despite all the criticism and controversy it withstood, and with a severe stubborn attitude, Netflix refused to cancel the show, and ironically, only changed the categorization. Next to the title of the series, the category has been changed from documentary to TV mini-series. However, in the description, it’s still called a documentary, which is provocative in how they simplify the problem and still mislead some people who might not know the real history of -the real- Queen Cleopatra. Therefore, the documentary has been ignored and has got the title of “the worst tv show” with a 1/10 rate on IMDb, and similar low rates on other websites.
Between the Declared Purposes and the Concealed Side Effects
Since the legal reforms that were made in the states in which the following demonstrations took place, the depiction of historical and animated characters by black actors has become common, regardless of the historical background of the character or how the animated character was initially created. And what matters more here is the depiction of historical characters.
To exemplify, Queen Anne Boleyn is played by a black actress in a recently premiered series that revolves around her life. In addition, some TV shows show colored people in 18th and 19th-century series as kings, princes, and queens such as in the two famous tv shows produced by Netflix “Bridgerton” and “Queen Charlotte” which show that English kings could marry colored or black women, even though the white European mentality at that time would have never allowed that. So it is obvious how false this depiction is. Thus, does this serve the case for racism against black people? Is blackwashing the way to end racism?
Till now the declared reasons for this blackwashing fall under the tree of political correctness. According to Oxford Reference Political Dictionary, political correctness is the avoidance of forms of expression that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially oppressed. Political correctness declared purposes are appreciating human rights, representing all groups, and liberating art from racist limitations of race, gender, and nationality. However, blackwashing is not political correctness, especially when it leads to falsifying history.
This question leads us to the concealed and perhaps secretly wanted side effects. The clearest one is how self-delusion of Afrocentrism can wash ethnic crimes from European history. Just imagine after 50 or 100 years of all this blackwashing, how the next generations will perceive the medieval ages, crimes of the 18th and 19th centuries, and the racism and discrimination before 1964? Will they even remember George Floyd or these crimes shall be washed from white people’s history? Will they believe the torture of kidnapping, slavery, and being forbidden from the most simple rights that black people suffered?
Regardless of how Afrocentrism sees it, blackwashing is not going to aid black lives in regaining their rights, it actually will simplify and hide the historical torture they lived, and wipe the bloodshed in the history of early American and European colonialism. However, Afrocentrism still fights as if it’s their battle and blackwashing is their promised victory.
For How Long Shall the Middle East Be the Sand Table of West?
Another point is that the West always views any protests or objections made by discriminated communities as a political crisis. Therefore, they solve it as a political crisis that they should dispose of in the easiest way, which is getting rid of this unwanted protesting community, whether by genocide or making up stories about the “promised land”. This expression between quotation marks reminds us of the unwanted Jews in European society. After they received their share of racism and discrimination in European society, they reach the peak of torture and genocide in the Holocaust.
The winners of the game or the war, England and its allies, promised to give them their so-called promised land, Palestine, and by this kind of solution, both parties are winners at the expense of the middle east. What is more ironic is that the supporters of the immigration of Jews to Palestine are the same supporters of Afrocentrism.
On April 19th, 2023, David Gritten published an article in BBC News UK about the crisis the documentary has made under the headline: “Egyptians complain over Netflix depiction of Cleopatra as black”. The headline is not just provocative in simplifying the problem by calling standing against the falsification of history just “complaining”, but also throughout the whole article, the writer sheds light on the false claims.
He supports his claim using made-up proof that Macedonian Egyptian Cleopatra was black, by highlighting that her dynasty is just “Greek-speaking”. Then, by using the point of the unknown origins of her mother and that she was perhaps Egyptian -hence must be black- or somewhat African, even though the truth is obvious in her portraits, which stood the test of time, as much as the truth of the enemies of Egypt that are carved and inscribed on King Tut’s sandals.
Consequently, will Egypt become the newly occupied Palestine? A tragic holocaust occurs and all flee to Palestine, so would Egypt become the land to flee to when racism becomes intolerable? Would Egyptian history be the way that blackwashing compensates for years of racism?
“Today’s Rebel is Tomorrow’s Tyrant”
This famous quote by George Orwell from Animal Farm, and is a historical lesson of every revolution’s fate, because every revolution brings another revolution around, and perhaps the story of Jews in Palestine is a clear supporter of this quote. From a different point of view, this quote highlights how every revolution gets stolen by the revolted-against parties or by another sneaky party that serves the revolted-against tyrants.
It is obvious now that blackwashing serves only the ancient and modern times white image. Blackwashing could cause amplified hatred towards pro-Afrocentrism black people -causing a large gap between races. At the end of the day, who wants their history to be a subject of blackwashing and falsifications? Perhaps Palestine in 1948 didn’t have enough awareness of the concept of heritage and identity stealing, but now Egyptians do. Perhaps, also, blackwashing only washes the white history from their blooded crimes!
Due to the support of the anti-Afrocentric, and people who believe in the accuracy of history the viewership rates for Queen Cleopatra witnessed a great downfall. Even on social media platforms, people expressed how appalled they are by the inconsistency of evidence that Cleopatra, among most ancient Egyptians, was black. If that were true, why are Egyptians currently considered and viewed as people of colour, but not black? Is it truly probable that most of the Egyptian population are Arabs and immigrants? If so, why do Modern Egyptians resemble the statues and engravings of Ancient Egyptian history? Egyptians are not white per se, but they are not black either. Truly, blackwashing is blind.
Co-Written by: Amira El Deeb and Tia Komy