Tyler O'Neil, PJ Media, January 14, 2019
On Sunday, Britain’s Daily Star reported that Lady Gaga and Angelina Jolie — two white actresses — are competing for the role of Cleopatra, sparking outrage across social media. Social Justice Warriors (SJWs) demanded that the African queen should be played by a woman of color, even though the historical Cleopatra was Greek, not black.
Despite all this outrage, Cleopatra was not black. This historical dynamo — known for wooing Julius Caesar and Mark Antony — was an African queen, but she was descended from the Greek general Ptolemy. Ptolemy was one of Alexander the Great’s four generals who carved up the Greek empire after Alexander’s untimely death. Ptolemy ruled Egypt and established a dynasty that lasted until the Romans took over.
While some recent research has suggested that Cleopatra’s sister was “half African,” it remains unknown if Cleopatra and her sister had the same mother, whether the body actually belonged to her sister, and what exactly it means for her to be “half African.” Egyptian art has presented ancient Egyptians as having comparatively light skin, as contrasted with the black Nubians. Finally, had Cleopatra been black, the Romans likely would have remarked on it.
While Greek people who intermarry with Africans can indeed become black, the Ptolemaic pharaohs followed in the footsteps of previous Egyptian rulers in marrying their sisters, creating an incestuous situation that would have exacerbated the olive skin of the Greeks, rather than mixing it with any of their black neighbors or subjects.
The Greco-Roman world was less race-conscious than modern America, but nationality and tribe mattered more. The Romans regarded the Ptolemies as Greek. Even if the Ptolemaic dynasty had not engaged in incest, Egyptians themselves were far from uniformly black.