News Removes Petition To Cancel ‘Blackwashing’ Netflix Docuseries Queen Cleopatra

Haley Kennington has removed a petition to cancel the Netflix docuseries Queen Cleopatra that featured a black actress in the lead role of Cleopatra, stating that it violated their Community Guidelines.

According to Greek Reporter, a petition was started by Maha Shehata and Aikk Yasser who claim to be ethnically Egyptian. In their petition, the pair said the Netflix series was “falsifying history” after it portrayed Queen Cleopatra as black when her ancestry was Greek-Macedonian.

After receiving nearly 90,000 signatures, removed the petition. The organization said that some of the information provided by Shehata and Yasser violated their Community Guidelines.

The original petition read as follows:

“Afrocentrism is a pseudoscience that is pushing a group’s agenda to claim Egypt’s history and rob the actual Egyptians of it. By using false articles and zero evidence, they are still attempting to falsify history.

Cleopatra was born in Alexandria, Egypt in the Ptolemaic dynasty to Greek descent. She was NOT black. This is in no way against black people, and is simply a wake-up call to preserve the history and the integrity of the Egyptians and the Greeks.

The show is clearly done to complement the Afrocentric movement, which claims to be the owner of the ancient Egyptian civilization and to consolidate what the movement promotes. Egypt was never black and it was never white, Egypt is just Egypt. There are many great African/black civilizations, but Egypt was/is NOT one of them. Sign the petition to stop the falsification of history!”

The Netflix series is produced and narrated by Jada Pinkett Smith. The lead actress is Casualty star Adele James who was cast as Cleopatra.

The Netflix-associated Twitter account called Strong Black Lead tweeted an announcement on April 12th that read, “From Executive Producer @jadapsmith comes a new docuseries exploring the lives of iconic African queens. QUEEN CLEOPATRA follows the story of Cleopatra, one of the world’s most famous and misunderstood woman [sic]. QUEEN CLEOPATRA is available to stream May 10 only on Netflix.”

Those of Egyptian descent were less than thrilled to see the iconic figure being represented by anything other than an Egyptian actress. Many took to social media to lambast the role being portrayed by a black actress. Some even accused the series of “blackwashing.”

Somalian doctor and activist Hiba Shookari replied to Netflix’s announcement on Twitter saying, “This has nothing to do with empowering black people actually is the opposite it’s a history theft. You need to respect [the] nation’s civilizations and history.”

Another Twitter user added, “It’s weird because Africa overall has such a rich history and there are so many stories that could be told, many that aren’t well known in Western nations in particular, instead these companies are choosing to focus on famous white people but just swapping their race.”

Netflix’s Queen Cleopatra poster

One sarcastic tweet in response to Netflix’s announcement received over 3,600 likes and was accompanied by a famous painting of Cleopatra noted, “We literally have Cleopatra’s entire ancestry recorded to the smallest detail for 100s of years prior by contemporary court historians. She was entirely Macedonian with a single Persian great great great grandmother. Hmm yep this perfectly preserved Pompeiian wall painting of her and Caesarion her son made within living memory of her definitely proves she was black.”

The petition has since been reposted and is already sitting at nearly 18,000 signatures.

A separate petition to halt Netflix’s debut of the docuseries was created using and can be found here.

Netflix has not issued a formal response to the petitions.

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