Thursday, February 23, 2006

Scholars Undo the “Whitening” of Egypt

Scholars Undo the “Whitening” of Egypt

Ft. Lauderdale Forum Critiquing the King Tut Traveling Exhibit
By S. E. Anderson

What most of know of Egypt has been filtered through Hollywood films, TV dramas, “documentary” programs, visiting museums or by looking at the National Geographic Magazine over the years. We wind up with the belief that:

(1) Egypt is not in Africa. Or if it is in Africa, its ancient civilization was founded by either Europeans or beings from outer space—
(2) The Ancient Egyptians looked more like whitefolks than Africans
(3) Greece was the cradle of Western Civilization--
(4) Africans played only minor servant-like role in the thousands of years of Pharaoh rule—
(5) Egypt is always separated from Africa (i.e. “Egypt AND Africa”; African Art/Egyptian Art depts. in Museums)

Besides these lies, distortions and racist constructs, we have all grown up with crazy images of mummies and evil pharaohs constantly pillaging frightened bug-eyed Africans and frail pale white damsels in distress… only to be saved by dashing and daring white men who- somehow –are able to kill the unkillable… to outpower the all powerful pharaoh/mummy. In other words, Egypt becomes this super-mythological place where white supremacy reigns over exotic evils, sciences and beauty that constantly needs to be “tamed.”

Most of us never get a chance to hear Black and progressive white scholars and activists scientifically refute these deliberate distortions of Egypt because that would undermine the very foundation of Eurocentrism’s notion and policy of white supremacy. Besides, billions of dollars are being made off of these racist fabrications in the West’s cultural industry… and psychological dominance prevails through these myths.

Well, an historical breakthrough happened in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida on 16-17 February: hundreds of Blackfolk got a chance to listen to the exposure of and the unraveling of the “whitening” or “Europeanization” of Egypt from Black Scholars and one brave British Scholar. The priceless Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs exhibit on loan from Egypt is currently installed at Ft. Lauderdale’s Museum of Art.

The images and history being promoted by these Eurocentric Egyptologists, archeologists, anthropologists, historians and forensic scientists tells us that King Tut was a whiteboy who reigned over a vast kingdom that had its familial and cultural roots somewhere outside of Africa. After all, all this splendor, architectural wonders and scientific knowledge existing 6000 years ago COULD NOT BE CREATED BY BLACK AFRICANS.

Florida International University’s Africa New World Studies hosted a full day learning experience with one of the foremost African scholars on Egypt: Dr. Theophile Obenga currently of San Francisco State University. On Feb 16th students and ordinary folk from the South Florida area got a chance to spend a whole day interacting with Dr. Obenga culminating in a 3-hour evening presentation on the proving the African roots of ancient Egypt. Since, Dr. Obenga is fluent in Greek, Hebrew, and Latin as well as being able to read ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics he was able to reveal Egypt’s Africanity through primary documents.

Then on Friday Feb 17th, the splendid African American Research Library and Cultural Center of Ft. Lauderdale hosted the symposium: “Egypt: Africa’s Glorious Daughter”. It was a collaborative effort within a new consortium call the Florida Africana Studies Consortium… and it was standing room only in the library’s auditorium. The panel included:

Dr. Theophile Obenga
- author of Ancient Egypt and Black Africa; A Student Handbook and African Philosphy During the Period of the Pharaohs 2780-330 BCE
Martin Bernal- Black Athena: The AfroAsiatic Roots of Classical Civilization (3Vols)
Asa Hilliard- The Teaching of Ptahhotep and The Reawakening of the African Mind
Manu Ampim- Egypt as a Black Civilization and Modern Fraud: The Fabricated Ancient Egypt Statues of Ra-Hotep & Nofret

Babacar M’Bow
, the symposium convener and Broward County Library executive, set the context with his essay: “The Rationality of African History”. He was followed by the panelists who –with the aid of visuals- outlined issues that focused on demystifying the Eurocentric dominance over Egyptian scholarship and research and definitely laying to rest King Tut’s African roots.

Dr. Obenga led off with a visual presentation on “Beauty” from African antiquity to today. He pointed out how the ancient Egyptians were masters of the science and spirituality of beauty which was passed on over the millennia to all of Africa and Europe.

He was followed by Dr. Hilliard’s “Understanding of the Humanity of Africans: 18th Dynasty, Without Extreme Makeovers” which exposed the deliberate obfuscation of King Tut’s African bloodline.

Then Dr. Martin Bernal followed with a presentation revealing that 60% of the Greek language is attributed to having roots in Africa. And moreover, the key words describing complex philosophical, social, cultural, spiritual and scientific concepts are of Egyptian origin and not out of Greece’s Indo-Asiatic linguistic roots.

Finally, young scholar-activist Manu Ampim, through his international research of museums, archives, exhibits and travels to Egypt exposed the widespread fabrications and distortions within the world of Egyptology and exhibitions to make sure the general public sees a “whitened” Egypt.

Fortunately, for all of us, this presentation is webcasted at:

Officials from the Museum of Art’s King Tutankhamun exhibit were silently present- even though they were asked to be on the panel. This is typical of these “scholars” of Ancient Egypt: they do not engage in a public dialog with Black scholars of Ancient Egypt. The last time they did this was back in 1974 at a UNESCO-sponsored Cairo symposium when the late Dr. Chiekh Anta Diop and Dr. Obenga left these white Egyptologist “experts” speechless or stuttering after they thoroughly proved beyond a doubt the “African-ness” of the Pharaohs. Now, a generation later, we have to fight a similar battle, because these white supremacist scholars have regrouped and now try to use hi-tech smoke and mirrors approach to attempt to make Tutankhamun more “white” than he actually was. They have mixed CAT scan, DNA technologies with artist renderings of what the boy-king would look like and have presented to the world at least three different images! If it was truly scientific, their methods would have produced one image from three different approaches/interpretation of the data.

The pioneering work of Obenga, Bernal, Hilliard, and Ampim are joined with the works of Maulana Karenga and Molefe Asante … and other African scholars (and a tiny handful of white scholars) so that now we have for the world to see that Egypt is truly a glorious Black and Beautiful daughter of Africa. Your task is to make sure we get their works and views into our schools… and to be ever vigilant when the King Tutankhamun exhibit comes to a museum near you (Chicago and Philadelphia) bearing the likeness of whiteness.

Friday, February 03, 2006

The Continued Importance of a Militant Black History Month

Sistas & Brothas,

We need to put Black History month in the context of our Black Liberation Struggle. That is to say, Carter G. Woodson ASSERTED a Black History Week. He did not ask for permission from whitefolks. He ASSERTED it because there was a strong Black Social Movement underway; the New Negro Movement and... soon-to-follow the Garvey/UNIA-Harlem Renaissance Movement. Brotha Woodson promoted "Negro History Week" and the Black National Anthem ("Lift Every Voice & Sing") as both POLITICAL and CULTURAL acts within a violently hostile and deeply segrgegated nation. It was an effort to raise the consciousness and self-confidence of a racially oppressed people within the normalized world of white supremacy and imperialism. Du Bois and Garvery were on parallel paths with this very same thing in mind... along with thousands of young militant Black cultural workers thruout Black America evolving out of the "Harlem Renaissance Movement."

The February "Negro History" week was used not only to reflect and educate about our history of Struggle & resistance, it was also used to mobilize Blackfolk to fight against the daily racist terror and for true democracy and equity to prevail within the US borders. This purpose was nurtured and took on new more militant forms within the 1960's and 70's Civil Right/Black Liberation Movement(s). It was during this period that grassroots groups and individuals fought for setting aside the entire month of Februray for Black History celebration AND mobilization. Remember, during these decades, it was never about making Black History a government sanctioned event... or even a corporate sponsored one (that comes with capital's desire/need to pimp off every social/cultural attribute of its citizens).

For many decades, Black History Month was about bringing Black America's communities- especially its youth- together for reflection, renewal and action. From these Black History Month activities came, for example, the struggle to make Martin Luther King's birthday a national holiday; to systematically continue to celebrate the power, life and legacy of Brother Malcolm X; to make the connection with the Wars the US was waging to our anti-imperialist stances to those wars; to hilite the prominance and power of our fighting Sisters in such a way that an aspect of Black History Month flowed into International Working Women's Month (March).

In Other words, Negro/Black History Week/Month was a way for militant/nationalist Blackfolk to POLITICALLY mobilize thruout Black America from the 1930s thru the 70s.

But white supremacy within late capitalism had a way to absorb these militant nationalist moves as our overall Black Liberation Struggle disintegrated because of COINTELPRO actions and our own errors. By the late 70s/early 80s Budweiser and other capitalist multinationals saw that they could make money off of the nationalist sentiments of Black History Month. Simultaneously, some liberal and conservative elected officials saw the value in embracing Black History Month AND trivializing it down to food, song and dance and 6 or 8 Great Black Leaders. Eventually, these were the primary organizers and definers of Black History and the month. Today, they are the prime movers and shakers with their Black petty bourgeois wannabes promoting their "We too are Americans" myths and prettifying the centuries of enslaving Africans.

Just try to find a Black calander (outside of the Black Fax one) that celebrates our history as one of Struggle and Resistance. In 2006, Black calendars are celebrating our beauty, our ability to produce pretty Black art. We rarely ever see a calendar depicting how we fought back, our runaways, our Nat Turners and Gabriel Prossers, our Harriets and Callie Houses, Ida B Wells, Our George Jacksons and Malcoms. Calendars that show the militancy of the Black Reconstruction/New Negro/Civil Rights/Black Liberation Movements are now nonexistent.... Where are the Robert F. Williams, Malcolm X, Ruby Doris Robinsons calendars...?

The point I'm trying to make is this: Black History Month (many of us used to call it "Black Liberation Month") should be seen as a month of reconsolidating and recommitting ourselves to the struggle for Black Liberation- Just like we use to see May as African Liberation Month as doing just that. We should see February as a month of POLITICAL MOBILIZATION thru our culture and our powerful history. A month that helps bring our youngfolk into the struggle-mode. Black History Month should be seen as an ORGANIZING moment that WE define- in spite of what the rulers of this nation desire- in spite of what set of their negros and special sales and bogus TV programs they produce to pacify us in our misery.

Black History Month as an educational/mobilizing vehicle must be re-established. This can only be done by being actively engaged in our recpective communities. Not pontificators on the sidelines or in ebony towers.... Brother Carter G. Woodson envisioned his Week as just this: a consciousness-raising AND mobilizing vehicle.

Now more than ever, we need to continue Brother Woodson's vision.

In Struggle,

Sam Anderson