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The use of white actors to portray King Tut sheds light on the achievement gap

Spike TV
I filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) pointing out that as guardians of the nation’s airwaves they need to stop this masquerade of white actors portraying black classical cultures and casually allowing them to be beamed into our homes.

It’s clear now that talk of resolving the achievement gap between black and white children has been pure chicanery. And the upcoming Spike TV movie miniseries “Tut,” set to air July 19-21 via Comcast cable, is a case study for the ages.

Les Lester

For the uninitiated on this issue, you’ll have to dig through the deception on your search engine browser, on the Internet, to see authentic pictures of the boy king via tomb wall paintings. Depending on the ongoing news spin, sometimes the true pictures of Tut come up, but on a recent search I was amazed at how the clock had been turned back on authentic King Tut imagery.

But millions of Americans already know better. That’s what’s so puzzling. Innumerable thousands of U.S. citizens have traveled to Egypt, including me, and have been in the tomb. You wouldn’t know it, though, if you waited for a reproof from those who should give firsthand accounts.

Imagine what could be

In real life, King Tut looked like any African-American one might see walking down the street today. Imagine all Americans meeting black folk(s) on the streets and recognizing they are the King Tuts of modern times; or our black boys in the streets realizing, at an early age, that they could well wear the mantle of the boy king and not be crossing the barrier of the extraordinary when they aim beyond being rappers and athletes.

What we have here are the residuals of American colonialism still with us, in stark detail, for all to see. Apparently, so-called mainline production companies and TV show distributors are held up in a time continuum that they can’t let go of.

That’s why I filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) pointing out that as guardians of the nation’s airwaves they need to stop this masquerade of white actors portraying black classical cultures and casually allowing them to be beamed into our homes.

The FCC has followed up saying I should contact Comcast. OK, I’m contacting Comcast. I’ve written an “Open Letter,” which should show up in the media shortly, to ensure Comcast hears from me, and I’ll follow up with a call to them.

Images’ effects

At this rate, when our children return to school, in the fall, institutional racism 101 will still be the primary course. Imagine, if you will, a little black girl in preschool and a little white girl sitting side by side. The little black girl looks at a picture of a renaissance-era princess and the little white girl looks at a picture of a renaissance-era princess.

Then the little white girl looks at a picture of a white Egyptian princess, and the little black girl looks at a white Egyptian princess. Of course, in reality there weren’t any white Egyptian princesses. Get my drift? Institutional racism starts early, and it’s not the masses of people’s fault.

The economic elites are pitting everyday people against each other, and that’s not OK.

FCC should exercise authority

The FCC should know better. It notes on its web page that it can levy penalties against a broadcaster for knowingly presenting false information over the airwaves. It needs to start exercising its authority as a protector of the public trust.

Spike TV and Comcast know better. And so does Muse Entertainment, the production company that sold it to the two conglomerates.

Now I’ve got to contact the Justice Department and the Department of Education so kids can start school on an even keel. Is that asking too much?

Les Lester is a freelance journalist and author of the novel “The Awakening of Khufu.” Twitter @LesLester.

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Comments (8)

  1. Submitted by Todd Piltingsrud on 07/16/2015 - 12:26 pm.

    Now that you mention it

    That white kid does look a little ridiculous.

    But I’m not so sure that “the economic elites are pitting everyday people against each other”. It brings to mind images of a bunch of fat guys in business suits sitting around a table in a dark room smoking cigars, plotting how they can profit from the discontent of the heaving masses. But there is no such room. No such group of good old boys. And discontent just isn’t that profitable.

    If I was pressed to give a reason for the ridiculous-looking white kid in the pharaoh costume, I’d say it was inertia and laziness. Somebody made a casting decision that was influenced in large part by similar decisions in the past. You’re right, the person who made the decision probably knew better. But that knowledge didn’t factor into the decision as much as other things like tradition, socialization, popularity, etc.

    I suppose profit might have been among the motives of the casting director. But at least they’re not getting my money. I don’t have cable. And if you want to change the world, contacting Comcast probably won’t be as effective as cutting the cable.

  2. Submitted by Anfra Boyd on 07/16/2015 - 04:16 pm.

    White Lies

    As a small child in Elementary school one of the first Biblical stories I saw on the movie screen was the The Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston as Moses and Yul Brenner as Pharaoh the King of Egypt. That was in the early 70’s. The church that my parents made us attend all had pictures of Jesus as a white man. We even had pictures of a white Jesus in our home hanging above the dinner table like most African-Americans families did and most of them still do today in 2015.

    All of the images of Jesus (who is God or the Son of God) the conflicting story that is still being taught today, were of a white man with long blonde or brunette hair, a pointed nose, blue eyes, and pale white skin. The same white man dressed in a white robe with a somber peaceful face has haunted my life since I can remember. Whenever I would question my parents, grandparents or teachers and ministers in my church about the origin of Jesus or ask any questions period about the conflicting stories in the bible I would get the same answer from everyone, “Don’t question God,” or “If its not in the bible you don’t need to know!”

    Thankfully, the world wide web introduced me to more knowledge and information than I could possibly imagine and the first thing that I did once I was able to log on the internet from home was research King James and his version of God and why the KJV bible is so prevalent in the African-American Christian Churches. I was not prepared for the research that I found and continue to find today. Once I found out that King James was the European King of England “a white man” I knew that everything that I had been taught was a BIG WHITE LIE. OMG! My life and entire belief in Jesus Christ was confirmed because I always knew in my heart and soul as a little black girl that God was not a man and differently not a white man. I innately and instinctively always knew that the Sunday School Stories, the Bible Studies, the Sermons everything was a lie and that my parents were only teaching me what they had been taught and that they never questioned the stores because of the fear that was inflicted upon them if they did question God. WOW! Slavery is still alive today!

    White America continues to use the Media via television, commercials, movies, books, magazines, etc to enslave our minds to continue to believe and accept white supremacy. However, we now have the ability and the freedom to watch read, live, believe and think differently and discover our own authenticity as it relates to God and the truth of who we are individually and collectively as descendants of Africa.

    Hollywood will continue to make these type of movies, but no one has to believe them even if they decide to watch the stories. It might be a good idea to watch show and see all of the lies and inaccuracies that they tell and then Teach our children the truth based on the lies that we see in the media.


    • Submitted by Pat Royse on 07/21/2015 - 12:15 am.

      What Christ looked like

      Ms. Anfra the hurt and betrayal in your response brought tears to my eyes. It’s easy to see the hurt and raw emotion in every word of it, and I’m truly truly sorry for the betrayal that you feel. I want to give you just four scriptures that may help you, I hope they do. The first is in Isaiah 52: 12 &13 tells you it’s talking about Christ And verse 14 describes Christ, : 14- As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men. So he wasn’t handsome as the pictures show.
      And in Acts10;33-34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons. And the last verse I will give you is Galatians 3:28-29, There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
      29 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. I truly hope these verses will help you some, and just remember it’s the soul that’s important not the vessel that holds it. I wish you peace, joy and well-being Ms. Anfra and if you need to know I’m a 57 year old white woman that is color blind hun. Thank you for your time,
      Pat Royse

  3. Submitted by Russell Booth on 07/16/2015 - 04:25 pm.

    Ethnocentric chicanery

    Based on a few minutes of web research, the scholarly view seems far from settled that Tut had black skin. If I were to walk down any street in Alexandria or Cairo, Egypt today I would not expect to see lots of people who look “like any African-American one might see walking down the street today” in the USA.

    But then, I hope your team wins, if you’re into that kind of thing.

  4. Submitted by Beverly Barker on 07/18/2015 - 08:05 am.

    Ethnocentric Chicanery

    Please review articles researched by Black scholars, and African scholars….THERE ARE MANY….be ready for THE TRUTH.

  5. Submitted by Allen Shaw on 07/22/2015 - 04:30 am.

    Use of White Actors For Egyptians

    Yes Les you are correct. By this time anyone being portrayed as an Egyptian should come from Egypt.
    Unlike you I have not been to Egypt; however I do not believe that the majority of Egyptians look like sub Saharan Africans and when you describe an African Americans they can be any color from very dark skinned as are some Egyptians all the way to almost as white as a “White person”!
    It would be great for more African Americans to be featured; however there were many dark skinned people in the movie, just not the main Egyptian characters. Did you see that General? What about the woman he wanted to marry, was she Black?
    Did you count the number of dark skinned people in that movie series?
    In the end movies are made to sell tickets and be entertaining and political correctness is not the name of the game.

  6. Submitted by Steve Jones on 07/22/2018 - 11:50 am.

    There actually were white Egyptians and white pharaohs

    Cleopatra was Greek, as were all the Ptolemaic rulers starting with Ptolemy I Soter. Ptolemy I was oe of Alexander the Great’s generals and ascended the throne in Egypt after the latter died, starting a Greek dynasty. In other words, you have to go back 2,300+ years to find non-white rulers of Egypt, and even before then there were important officials and regular citizens who were white.

    This idea that the ancient world was one where ethnicity remained within geographic boundaries is wrong. Hellenistic culture in particular spread to Africa and Asia, not only via Alexander the Great, but much earlier during the reigns of leaders like Agesilaus of Sparta, who campaigned in what is now modern-day Turkey to free Hellenistic city-states from Persian rule.

    Likewise, Egyptian culture spread east, with the Greeks and others particularly influenced by Egypt.

    The point is, claiming ancient Egyptians “looked like any African-American one might see walking down the street today” and complaining to the FCC about white actors accurately portraying Ptolemaic pharaohs actually contradicts history.

  7. Submitted by Jeweet toch on 10/12/2019 - 05:53 am.

    The actor who plays King Tut in the Spike mini-series isn’t exactly white, hi father is British-Indian.

    And the ancient Egyptians didn’t actually look like most African-Americans. According to an article published in 2017 by Business Insider, “the most sophisticated genetic study of ancient Egyptians ever conducted” had the following results:
    – “The genomes showed that, unlike modern Egyptians, ancient Egyptians had little to no genetic kinship with sub-Saharan populations”
    – “The closest genetic ties were to the peoples of the ancient Near East, spanning parts of Iraq and Turkey as well as Israel, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.”

    Though I completely understand your frustration about white-washing in media, this actor playing an Egyptian king is not an accurate example of it.

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