On December 12, Director Ridley Scott's Exodus: Gods and Kings will hit theaters nationwide and perpetuate a problem that has been occurring for thousands of years. The film is Scott's account of Moses leading the Israelite slaves out of Egypt, and it has already caused some controversy due to its apparent "whitewashing" of African history. The film casts four whites in the lead roles, with Australian Joel Edgerton playing pharaoh Ramses II and Sigourney Weaver playing his mother, Queen Tuyi. These types of explicit misrepresentations may be surprising to some, but the unfortunate truth is that these presumed white lies have been occurring since the birth of Western civilization.
According to Dictionary.com, a white lie is defined as "a minor or unimportant lie, especially one uttered in the interests of tact or politeness." This ideology is certainly one that every human being can easily resonate with, as we have all told a white lie at some point in our lives; whether it was telling a friend that we were somewhere other than where we actually were, or "discovering" a new continent at the end of the 15th century. While it can be assumed that the term "white lie" has been in existence for decades and/or even centuries, its official origin is rather obscure.
The few websites that attempt to provide clarification on the origin each relate it to the idea that the word "white" has often been synonymous with "good" and "pure" (i.e. white magic); as opposed to "black" which is often associated with "bad" or "evil" (i.e. black magic). It is thus quite ironic that the lies that have been told by Eurocentrics throughout world history are much darker than their skin complexion. While these lies may have been intended to be "minor" or "unimportant", they have in fact been major and as a result have altered history along with the perceptions of certain races. But while the origin of the term "white lie" is a little ambiguous, one of the most prominent potential origins of its actual practice is much clearer, dating back to the birthplace of democracy.
Ancient Greece is regarded as "the cradle of Western civilization" due to its numerous contributions to our current way of life. Philosophers such as Pythagoras are credited with developing the foundation of mathematics, while those such as Socrates and Plato are regarded as the most renowned philosophers in world history. While I am not attempting to discredit or belittle the contributions of these philosophers, the fact is that each of these philosophers were preceded and influenced by African philosophers.
Pythagoras spent 22 years studying in Egypt under the instruction of priest Oenuphis of Heliopolis, while Plato spent 13 years in Egypt following Socrates' death studying under Horite priest Sechnuphis. Egyptian philosopher Imhotep was the father of medicine, architecture, politics and philosophy; yet his name is never mentioned in the same breath as those such as Hippocrates and Plato. While these particular instances could be dubbed more as "incidental omissions" from mainstream history rather than an actual white or black lie, the truth is still being hidden either way.
The explicit [white or black] lies would begin to occur thousands of years later, when race would unfortunately evolve into the world's most prominent perpetual problem. Scientific racism began at some point during the 18th century, and is known as the use of scientific techniques to support or justify the belief in racial inferiority and/or superiority. More specifically, some scholars argue that this technique has been most often used to promote European and American superiority.
Egypt and its disconnection from Africa have been an unfortunate byproduct of this type of racism, as history has disconnected the country from Africa so much that many people do not recognize it or its people as even being a part of the continent. It is not uncommon for people to associate Egypt with the Middle East, which only adds to the confusion and controversy over the actual phenotype of the country's ancient inhabitants.
Despite numerous findings made regarding the race of Ancient Egyptians, blatant omissions and misrepresentations are still made in mainstream media and history curricula. Scholars such as Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop have found numerous pieces of evidence that support Ancient Egypt being a Negro civilization, through the analysis of skeletons and melanin dosage tests performed on mummies. Other researchers such as Felicity Heywood have worked with archaeologists to unearth and trace the origin of afro combs, which date back to 3500 BCE in Kush and Kemet (present day Sudan, South Sudan and Egypt). A 2012 study done on the mummified remains of Pharaoh Ramses III, "the last great pharaoh of Egypt", determined that his y-chromosome belonged to the Haplogroup E1b1a (the most frequent haplogroup among contemporary Sub-saharan Africa).
Findings such as these make the denotations and representations of Ancient Egyptians as people of white and/or middle eastern descent that much more preposterous.
These erroneous depictions are unfortunately neither surprising nor discouraging; for as a black male living in America, my encounters with this country's (and world's) hypocrisy have been frequent and distressing. America is a country that was founded on a lie, which means that the abundance of problems and racial disparities that currently exist should not be surprising to anyone.
I should not be surprised that I can be pulled over by three police cars in my hometown of New Orleans after giving two homeless white women a dollar (presumed drugs) in front of a Walgreens.
We should not be surprised that unarmed young black men such as Michael Brown and John Crawford can be unjustly killed by police officers.
We should not be surprised that these same police officers can turn Ferguson, Missouri into a military-style occupation zone by firing smoke bombs and tear gas at Michael Brown's protesters and referring to them as "fucking animals."
Black people have been dehumanized and disregarded in America since its inception; and it is thus time for us to truly realize that this country is not "one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
However despite these truths, we should certainly not show any animosity towards Ridley Scott and any others that perpetuate lies such as those mentioned above. We should instead take the charge to inform and correct history, as the deceit has been occurring for thousands of years. Lying is just unfortunately a fundamental principle of Western civilization.
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