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One Last Time – Cleopatra Was Not Black

From the UK’s Daily Mail:


Race row erupts over casting of Angelina Jolie as Cleopatra

By Sophie Forbes
18 June 2010

She hasn’t even been officially confirmed as having the role, but Angelina Jolie is already receiving criticism over her possible portrayal of the legendary Queen of the Nile.

Jolie, who turned 35 last week, is caught up in a racially charged debate over whether the role should have been played by a black woman…

The new film’s producer, Scott Rudin, previously told USA Today the role is being developed with Angelina in mind as she has ‘the perfect look’.

But this statement has angered members of the African American community.

An Essence Magazine online story asks, ‘Another White Actress to Play Cleopatra?’

‘Honestly, I don’t care how full Angelina Jolie’s lips are, how many African children she adopts, or how bronzed her skin will become for the film, I firmly believe this role should have gone to a black woman.’

‘Were Vanessa Williams, Halle Berry and Thandie Newton unavailable for auditions that day?’ the writer continued.

‘Why does Hollywood think it’s even slightly plausible to cast white women in roles that would be more sensible to cast a black actress for? Especially when that role is an African queen.’

Of course normally we do not post such show business nonsense, but it is almost the weekend. More importantly, the preposterous claim that Cleopatra was a black African has gone on long enough.

As anyone with even a smidgeon of historical knowledge should know, Cleopatra VII was ethnically Greek. He name was actually Cleopatra VII Philopator, or even more precisely, Κλεοπάτρα Φιλοπάτωρ. (Philopator in Greek means ‘father loving.’)

Click to enlage

She was a direct descendent of Ptolemy, who was one of Alexander The Great’s Greek bodyguards.

Indeed, Egypt’s Ptolemaic dynasty was so notoriously in-bred that was very little chance of Cleopatra being anything but 100% Greek. And, of course, the time of their rule is also referred to as Egypt’s ‘Hellenistic Period.’

In fact, Cleopatra was the first in her long line to even make a pretense of learning Egyptian. She and the rest of her ancestors spoke Greek as their native language.

Furthermore, we are not talking about unrecorded history here. No contemporary authors and no contemporary artists ever portrayed or described her as having African features.

These claims of Cleopatra’s ‘blackness’ are just laughable ignorance and racism parading as history.

This article was posted by Steve on Friday, June 18th, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

26 Responses to “One Last Time – Cleopatra Was Not Black”

  1. Rusty Shackleford says:

    Steve, Steve, Steve….

    Evidently you haven’t read the revised Jesse Jackson/Al Sharpton account of events.

    Clearly, you are a racist.


  2. proreason says:

    “These claims of Cleopatra’s ‘blackness’ are just laughable ignorance and racism parading as history.”

    I “feel” that Steve is wrong about this, and I think by citing facts he reveals himself as the true racist.

  3. shapter says:

    I was really surprised when those who are complaining about this didn’t double-check their historical facts first. It’s anyone’s guess what Cleopatra’s exact skin color was, but it’s simply an historical fact that she was Greek, not Egyptian.

    Here’s a coin made during Cleopatra’s time w/her silhouette on it:

    The article writer describes her as having “a rather frumpy hair-do, has a pointed chin, thin lips and sharp nose”. Who knows what features were associated w/ethnicities back then, but those aren’t stereotypically African features today.

    Here’s a better pic of a Cleo coin:


    To me, in that pic, she looks like she could be related to Olympia Dukakis or Zsa Zsa Huffington, not Vanessa Williams, Halle Berry, or Thandie Newton.

    • proreason says:

      It’s always useful to have a woman who can open beer cans with her nose.

      Sometimes the tabs break off and sucking the beer out through holes punched with a screwdriver can cause indigestion.

  4. Right of the People says:

    But, but, but she was an AFRICAN queen so she had to have been black! Those damned racists in Hollywood!

    Next thing you’re going to tell me is the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus are real.

  5. fallingpianos says:

    So, does this mean the only person qualified to play Bill Clinton in “My Lies Life: The Movie” is Dennis Haysbert?

  6. BannedbytheTaliban says:

    I see a lot of images in the news coming out of Egypt, although I’ve never been myself, and the one thing you don’t see in any of them, black people.

    I give it 100:1 odds that nobody at Essence Magazine can even find Egypt on a map let alone tell me what its ethnic makeup would be.

  7. untrainable says:

    I didn’t know Elizabeth Taylor was black!

  8. conant says:

    I think what we are seeing here is the difference between a degree in History vs one in Black Studies (read also Wymons Studies). Keep it in mind when the kid’s tuition bill comes in

  9. Yarddog1 says:

    I guess Angelina could do it in blackface. Maybe then they would be happy.

  10. eaglewingz08 says:

    I guess the fact that Cleopatra was white (Greek) fell into the black hole of history.

  11. BobonStatenIsland says:

    Thandie Newton, Halle Berry and, even, Obama have one white parent and one black parent and yet they are always considered black. I guess If they want them, they can have them.

    • joeblough says:

      Yes. This business of identifying someone with ANY African antecedents whatever, however few or distant, as “black” is one of the stranger things about American racism.

      I’ve seen instances where it is said that someone who has really nothing African about their appearance whatever is “really” black, because some great-grandparent or great-great-grandparent or such was black.

      It is truly a bizarre way of thinking.

  12. jrmcdonald says:

    Omar Sharif is black?

  13. JohnMG says:

    …..”over whether the role should have been played by a black woman……”

    I’m in total agreement that a white woman shouldn’t have gotten the role. I think Jessee Jackson should portray Cleopatra. Bahney Fwank can be Marc Anthony.

    Now who can we get thunderbutt to play?

    • JohnMG says:

      Eureka!! I’ve got it.

      Thunderbutt can play the African Queen…..you know, that dumpy little steam launch that took Bogart and Hepburn down the rapids to the sea.

      They’re both about the same width across the stern, they both are constantly blowing off steam at inappropriate moments,and they could both do with a makeover.


    • Rusty Shackleford says:

      And Joe Biden can play “Mr Allnuts”.

  14. bobbys says:

    I think a compromise is in order, How about one of those bronzed Eyetalian goils from the Jersey Shore?.

  15. Chuckk says:

    Don’t like a historical person or event? No problem, history can be changed to fit your agenda. History is much like the U.S. Constitution.

  16. Melly says:

    Nothing will stop an Angelina and reported Brad Pitt pairing in this movie.
    Can’t wait to see it!
    To play devil’s advocate. Christopher Plummer (my fav actor btw) performed Shaw’s “Caesar and Cleopatra” on stage in Canada a couple of years ago and the actress who portrayed Cleo was seemingly of African descent.

    • JohnMG says:

      Maybe they couldn’t find the ‘right’ white girl.

      Look what happened with our ‘second’ black president.

    • Melly says:


      Well – actually Shaw wrote the play with in mind a 16 year old portraying Cleo and (as discussed above) some historians believe that Cleo is from Mesopotamia therefore dark skinned. The adult actress did a wonderful job pulling off a 16 year old.


  17. Nimblicity says:

    Apparently the Essence writer and his/her sympathizers have Cleopatra confused with Nefertiti (who does not appear to be black either, but there’s no pedigree to prove otherwise):


    They’re only off by about 1300 years or so. It’s a little like mixing up Pope John II and Pope John Paul II, except you don’t have a name for an excuse (only the title “Queen.”)

  18. BobonStatenIsland says:

    I think Othello should be played by White Men from now on (it was in the case of the 1955 release directed and staring Orsen Welles…I believe Laurence Olivier played him, too).

  19. Mithrandir says:

    1. If Egyptians were BLACK Africans, instead of the Moorish light skinned Arab-Africans, then don’t black people owe the Jews trillions in reparations?

    2. NOT OUT OF AFRICA: Mary Lefkowitz already wasted her time debunking the ‘Cleopatra is Black’ myth, as if anyone really ought to have written a book about the obvious. . .

    Just think if we allowed black leftists to write all of our history books? How afrocentric, full of lies, and twisting of reality our world would be….

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