- May 2016
To me, it's the very epitome of white eurocentrism and cultural appropriation to travel to the Middle East and declare all the lighter-shaded people to be white.
By the way you don’t need to travel to the Middle East. So, often the Middle East travels to you. In my country, in Portugal, in the Iberian Peninsula, we have “Middle Eastern” presence since quite ancient times, with the arrival of the Phoenicians, even if not before. There are Eastern material presences since the Chalcolithic in the Iberian Peninsula. We can say “here” that they are “white”. “White” is not equal to Norse. It is a wide range of skin colours that changes at the eyes of the societies.
Your concept of “white” is probably different from mine.
In the question of Francisco Bethencourt, in his work “Racisms”: “How is it that the same person can be considered black in the United States, colored in the Caribbean or South Africa, and white in Brazil?”.
And don’t confuse this question with self-identification today. It is a question of social identification, identification by the “other”, and this occurred in much if not all of the history of the mankind.
In particular, Ancient Egyptians broadly viewed themselves and their culture as being superior to everyone else merely because they were Egyptian. There's little question they'd respond negatively to being compared to northern Europeans on any level.
I could add that the Portuguese considered themselves “white” in their history and they also don’t self-identify with the paler Norse or even with the English. Still some years ago I recall hearing jokes on the beach to a paler guy that hadn’t the capacity to tan properly: He was just a red tomato burned by the sun. Inversely, again I could recall Livingstone’s comments here. Again, social perception affects the way a person sees another person skin colour.
Again quoting Bethencourt, in the beginning of the mentioned book: “[…]These works clearly identified common and divergent racial perceptions in the United States and Brazil — an example of divergence being that one drop of African blood defined black people in the United States, while in Brazil middle-class status whitened a person.”
Meaning here, as it seemed to me, that for you a single drop of African (meaning here darker skin/Egyptian or even Nubian) blood is sufficient to define Cleopatra as non-white, while for me it isn’t necessarily the case.
To be shorter, after all this too long post (sorry!), while Eurocentrism (and even Mediterraneocentrism) and Racism have relations they aren’t exactly the same thing. Declaring that a certain people/tribe is “white” in a chronicle is not necessarily a question of “Eurocentrism” or “Racism” even if it can be used as tool by both Eurocentrists and Racists.