Black History Fun Fact Friday – Mostafa Hefny and The Race Card

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What if you identified as one race but because of geographical differences you were told you were another race? Even if your skin tone said otherwise? Is it right to determine race by skin tone alone? Does race itself even exist?

In today’s episode of Black History Fun Fact Friday, we will explore The Race Card and how it has handicapped the life of one man who is still fighting to reclaim his identity. He is quickly becoming an important part of history as his story tells us so much about race.

This Aug. 8, 2012 photo shows Dr. Mostafa Hefny in Detroit. Hefny, an Egyptian immigrant who lives in Detroit wants the U.S. government to classify him as black, not white. The Egypt-born Hefny, 61, says he's easily identifiable as a black man, but when he was admitted to the U.S. decades ago, he was classified on government papers as a white person. Hefny says he's a Nubian, an ancient group of Egyptians considered more African than Arab. According to government directive, a white person is defined as "a person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, North Africa or the Middle East." (AP Photo/Detroit News, Max Ortiz) DETROIT FREE PRESS OUT; HUFFINGTON POST OUT

Dr. Mostafa Hefny in Detroit.(AP Photo/Detroit News, Max Ortiz) DETROIT FREE PRESS OUT; HUFFINGTON POST OUT)

Introducing Mostafa Hefny, an Egyptian Immigrant who came to the United States and was told he was white, despite his skin color. To understand this, let us first establish the U.S. racial classification system. The U.S. Census Bureau defines race as “a social category recognized by the United States and does not attempt to define race biologically, anthropologically, or genetically”. The Census Bureau recognizes five categories of race:

• White (people with origins in Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa,)
• Black or African American (Africa)
• American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian,
• Native Hawaiian
• Other Pacific Islander

Nicknames for race has also been applied to colors: White, Black, Red, and Yellow.

The census also includes a Hispanic ethnic category. It is an ethnic category rather than a race category because the Latino community is said to include many races, such as White, Black, Native American, Asian, and mixed. Keep in mind these are not classifications based on culture, land, or language, but skin tone alone. This means that anyone from Europe according to the lands designated for the specific color is considered white and anyone from Africa (according to the lands specified) is considered black.

In the ancient world, the Greeks, Romans, Israelites, Egyptians, Ethiopians, e.g. did not have racial categories. Rather people were divided according to their nationality. People from Europe may identify themselves as Irish, Russians, Greeks, Swedish, so forth and so on instead of simply whites. Likewise, people on the continent of Africa may refer to themselves as Ethiopians, Somalian’s, Nigerians, Egyptians, Israelites, Ghanaian’s, so forth and so on instead of simply blacks. The ancient Hebrews, Egyptians, Ethiopians, and Libyans didn’t speak of a place called Africa even though they were indigenous to that continent.

Since 1997, Mostafa Hefny, has been suing the U.S. government because when Hefny immigrated to America, the U.S. government told him he was no longer a black man. This is because according to the U.S. racial system of classification, we’re not supposed to realize that Egypt is in Africa, just that it is the Middle East, and as such anyone from the Middle East is considered White; obviously despite their skin tone.

“Dr. Hefny was a Bilingual Resource Teacher with Wayne County Regional Education Service Agency (Wayne County RESA) in Wayne, MI, USA for thirteen (13) years. When he stated on his employment records that he is black the Director of Human Resources sent him a letter which was copied to the Superintendent threatening him that his education career will be ruined if he did not change his racial classification on his employment records from black to white. A few days later one of the top administrators told him “If you ever say that you are black again no one will hire you and if hired you will be running from one job to the other for the rest of your life”. Even though Wayne County RESA provides support and consultant services to all of Wayne County which is 30% black, the Superintendent was white, his four Associate Superintendents were white, and 95% of the administrators and consultants were white.

Wayne County RESA did not fire Dr. Hefny, instead they denied him promotion twice, persecuted him, harassed him, called him nigger, and psychologically tortured him to the point that he left on social security psychiatric disability which lasted ten (10) years (1989-1998.) Additionally, he was hospitalized in psychiatric hospitals twice(1992 & 2000.) All the doctors who treated Dr. Hefny stated in their medical reports that his psychiatric injury was work related. When Dr. Hefny recovered and returned to the work force Wayne County RESA followed up on their threats and he was fired five times in one year.”

– Move On Petitions at http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/justice-for-an-indigenous

How did Hefny respond? He was shocked when his government-issued identification classified him as “white.”

This Aug. 8, 2012 photo shows Dr. Mostafa Hefny in Detroit. Hefny, an Egyptian immigrant who lives in Detroit wants the U.S. government to classify him as black, not white. The Egypt-born Hefny, 61, says he's easily identifiable as a black man, but when he was admitted to the U.S. decades ago, he was classified on government papers as a white person. Hefny says he's a Nubian, an ancient group of Egyptians considered more African than Arab. According to government directive, a white person is defined as "a person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, North Africa or the Middle East." (AP Photo/Detroit News, Max Ortiz) DETROIT FREE PRESS OUT; HUFFINGTON POST OUT

(AP Photo/Detroit News, Max Ortiz) DETROIT FREE PRESS OUT; HUFFINGTON POST OUT

According to the Detroit News: “As a Black man and as an African, I am proud of this heritage. My classification as a white man takes away my black pride, my black heritage and my strong black identity.” – Mostafa Hefny

This begs the question, what is black and what is white? We use them for clarity, but are they colors or nations of people? What about other nations? Asians, Chinese, Japanese?

According to the Office of Management and Budget Standards for the Classification of Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity, citizens are designated as White if they have “origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, North Africa or the Middle East.” For this reason, because of Hefny’s geographical location, his classification makes sense within the context of America’s definition of race. Again, according to the U.S. racial system of classification, we’re not supposed to realize that Egypt is in Africa, just that it is the Middle East, and as such anyone from the Middle East can be considered White; obviously despite their skin tone.

“Egypt is on the coast of Africa. It is not some small village in Sweden.” – Paul Mooney

From the foundation of man, we have been divided according to our nations and lands. In Genesis Chapter 10, we find the Table of Nations. After the flood Noah and his sons and their wives were saved and from this family repopulated the Earth. How they were divided is found in The Table of Nations.

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Ancient Egyptian Wall Painting

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JET Magazine Cover, Michael Jackson’s “Remember the Time”

Since Ham had the most descendants we are not going to go through every last one, but he birthed the African nations populating Africa and other parts of the “Middle East.” The word Ham in Hebrew is Khwam, and it means “hot, burnt, and black.” The first-born son of Ham, Cush, forms the Kushite nation. They were also called and known as the ancient Ethiopians. Ethiopia comes from the Greek word, Aethipos, which means, “burnt or black face.”  The Greeks applied this name to the people living south of Egypt. The name Egypt comes from the word Aegyptus though the Egyptians called themselves Khemet / Kemet, which is a variation of the Hebrew word Khawm (Ham).  It means, “People of the black land.”

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While many of us are already familiar with Ham’s sons, Shem’s descendants are not always acknowledged. Though not “Africans”, they were also black as were the Israelites who were often mistaken for Egyptians. Paul was mistaken for a black Egyptian (Acts 21:38), Moses passed as the grandson of Pharaoh for 40 years (Acts 7:22-23) and the messiah hid in Egypt:

“Now it’s very unlikely that Jesus would have been able to be HIDDEN in Egypt, if he had a very different color of SKIN from the people in Egypt.” – University of Birmingham historian, Dr. Mark Goodacre, BBC program called The Complete Jesus, 2001

 

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Statue of King Tut

DETROIT IMMIGRANT RACE

I am not sure where Henfy is today with his case. Last I read he was still fighting to be classified as black and this was back in 2012. The ancient Greek historian, Herodotus, who visited Egypt in the 5th century B.C.E., described the Egyptians as black-skinned with woolly hair and anthropologist, Count Constatin de Volney (1727-1820), spoke about the Egyptians that produced the Pharaohs.  He later paid tribute to Herodotus’ discovery when he said:

“The ancient Egyptians were true Negroes of the same type as all native-born Africans.  That being so, we can see how their blood, mixed for several centuries with that of the Romans and Greeks, must have lost the intensity of its original color, while retaining nonetheless the imprint of its original mold.  We can even state as a general principle that the face (referring to The Sphinx) is a kind of monument able, in many cases, to attest to or shed light on historical evidence on the origins of the people.”

How do you think race influences our society today?

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Why I Speak

Why I Speak

“We often forget that the current state of Black Americans is directly related to history.”

Black Then Staff

It is clear that we live in a system that is unfair and a civilization that is not just. I speak of these things not because I want to focus on the negative experience of blacks in America only. I speak of these things not because I’m a dark person who just wanna keep bringing up bad stuff. I speak of these things because we’ve become comfortable here in this land. We have been blinded from the truth as a people. We’ve forgotten that the constitution did not include us and that civilization for us is outside of this system. We’ve been tricked into believing that we are citizens in this land and that we have some kind of rights here. We’ve forgotten that when “All men were created equal” that didn’t include us. For what to the slave is the 4th of July?

You see we’ve forgotten where we’ve come from and as a result have no idea where we’re going. How can a slave pursue freedom when he thinks that he is already free? You see the black man does not exist. Black is a color, not a nation of people. Where is African American land? It does not exist. Africa and America are the combinings of two continents. There are over 50 countries in Africa, how then can “African” properly define a people? Which country in Africa are we talking about? African American is also therefore not a nation of people.

I speak because our roots stretch deeper than colors, bywords, proverbs, and mockeries that conceal true identities.  I speak because we forget that we were never part of this constitution. To amend. It means to alter, modify, and to revise. This document had to be revised, altered, and modified just to include you. No justice no peace, my people. It means that there’s no justice for you here and there’s no peace here either. This is the world we live in. We condemn the Confederate flag and we praise the American flag because we’ve been blinded to think there’s a difference between the two. They both drip with the blood of the saints.

We continue to march and to protest because we believe it will change things. How is it that we’ve gone from fighting for freedom to settling for Civil Rights? What is a civil right? What about human rights? So yes, I speak. I speak because we think we know slavery and we know nothing. I speak because we think we know freedom and we know nothing. I speak because we think we have rights and we have nothing. I speak because we think we know justice in a land that is anything but just.  Don’t matter who becomes president. It is the system that is broken and it is my responsibility to speak.

Outside The Box

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It is seeing the good

where good exist

and the bad too

without regard

to person or persona

It is passion

existing

in a universe

where truth is the only color

that matters

it is black balled fist

into the air

minus

the badge

of branding black power

to legitimize blackness

it is denouncing blackness

as a nation

it is a color

not a nation

it is nations

going underground

and bringing back a people

before slave ships

before slavery

before Africa

and America

before crack

and crooked laws

before history erased black Moses

and biblical laws

outside the box is back then

way back when

before the messiah’s eyes turned blue

back in the day

when his skin was brown

like you

It is keeping Saturday

when the world is Sunday

Sabbath

It is bible

outside religion

Faith

without being Christian

it is restoration

of a people

who ain’t been living

it is valley’s of dry bones

it is without waving flags

It is not expecting me to

celebrate freedom

in a land

where I ain’t never

been free

outside of the box

is honoring heroes

who were never

presidents

celebrating holidays

that ain’t on the calendar

it is rocking a fro

while penning proper English

it is nations brought in

while praising black skin

it is dred locs

without forged signatures

it is spitting salvation coated similes

to all people

without loosing sight

of who you are

it is sight

beyond the norm

call me anything but normal

this is life

outside the box

The Bible and Black History

4b97bb3247922b8da36c3838cca7ffdbSpeaking of Black History month, one of the primary concerns I hear among African Americans about the bible is: “Where am I?” With movies like Noah, Exodus Gods and Kings, and The Ten Commandments it is difficult for most black people to have faith in a book that rarely include them. In fact, many of them have been told that the bible is a white man’s book (which is not just insulting to black people but other nations as well). For centuries we’ve been taught that we’re non existent in this book or that we have small rather than significant contributions. But is this true? Were there any black people in the bible at all?

Fun Facts:

  • Location of The Garden of Eden:
    Pishon surrounding Hawilah > East Africa
    Gihon, surrounding Kush > Southern Egypt
    Hideqel, East of Assyria, Euphrates
A skull of Mitochondrial Eve was discovered, and through digitally reconstructing her features, this image was constructed.

A skull of Mitochondrial Eve was discovered, and through digitally
reconstructing her features, this image was constructed.

The Garden of Eden stretched from East Africa to the Euphrates River

  • Ham: Means Burnt Black
  • Moses, the Israelite, passes as the Grandson of the black, Egyptian, pharaoh for 40 years – Acts 7:22-23 (This means that he had to look just like him)
  • Kush > Ham’s first born son. Traced back to the Ethiopians and Nubians
  • Moses Hand Turns White – Conveniently left out of every 10 commandment movie is the second miracle. The one where Moses puts his hand in his bosom and it comes out white as snow. Wouldn’t be much of a miracle if it was already white- Ex. 4:1-7

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  • Paul mistaken for a black Egyptian – Acts 21:37-38
  • The Kushites lived south of Egypt in what is called the Sudan today.
  • The Israelites with dred locs: Numb. 6:5, Ezk 8:3, Samson, etc
  • The messiah’s feet compared to burnt brass, hair like wool – Rev. 1:14-15
  • Ethiopian comes from the Greek word Atheops meaning burnt face
  • Joseph looked like the Egyptians – Gen. 42:7-8
  • Egypt: Ham’s second born son < Blood brothers to the Ethiopians
  • Ethiopian > Burnt Face
  • Egypt > Burnt Black
  • Phut: The Somalians – According to the ancient record of Egypt, Phut has been traced back to the Somalians
  • Shem: Means Name
  • Elymites – Descendants of Shem, black men with Afros and full Beards

They Don’t Know Who They Are

There’s a rumor taking place among African Americans in America. A rumor that has always been there but that is now being echoed from the mouths of others. We heard it first from Raven-Symoné and then Whoopi Goldberg, and now Stacey Dash.

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Let us start by saying that The United States has been drunk off the blood of the African American for 397 years now–that is from 1619 to the present, when blacks were first brought here in a servitude capacity on the banks of the James River in Jamestown Virginia. Since then blacks have fought in every American war and contributed to every major American architectural structure. Blacks have single handily been the backbone to American wealth and prosperity. Their slave labor is the reason many people are still wealthy today. It is no coincidence that they succeeded in the cotton fields where the Native did not. They were not brought to America by mere chance, but their captors understood their farming history as a people and their capacity to flourish. It is because of this that many African Americans feel that there is no one more American than they. This is when things get weird.

The servant is not invited to the party as a guest. The servant is invited as a servant. His job is not to mingle or even to sit at the masters table. The servant is not prohibited to kick his shoes off, go upstairs and rest. The servant is not there to get comfortable. The servant’s job is to serve. The black man and woman didn’t come to America on a plane. The black man and woman came to America in shackles. We’re not talking about the blacks who arrived here prior to 1619, we’re talking about the blacks who began what is infamously known as The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. These blacks, it is clear, have no idea who they are as a people. They have been robbed and spoiled and hidden into prison houses. They have no idea what’s going on around them or in front of them. They are wild bulls in a net and filled with the fury of the Almighty. Mistake it not that they are blessed. Any contribution from them is prosperity. The blood in their veins is still a covenanted one. They sing songs about redemption and have built communities out of nothing.

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However, at what point has American become synonymous with ethnicity, or rather, nationality? Were not your ancestors considered less than human beings when this country was built? If given the chance do you think the founding fathers would not have signed the constitution in your blood? You cannot align yourself with the Native because he too had you as slaves. Did your rights not have to be amended or added on like a button to a shirt? What to the slave is the 4th of July?

The Mexican American is American. The Canadian American is American. The European American is American. The Irish American is American. All of these people are Americans because they live in America, but when we talk about the nationality, which refers to a country, who are you? Every other people in America can still point in the direction of their natural heritage except the African American in America. This perpetual state of ignorance has caused many of them to settle for being Americans. They don’t know who they are. Just because I help build someone’s house, this does not make it mine.

Week #3: Beyond The Colored Line – Interracial Blog Feature with Allison Wells

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It’s kind of hard to believe this today, but as recent as 1967, there was actually state laws that banned interracial marriage. These laws weren’t overturned until the Supreme Court case, Loving vs. Virginia in 1967. In that case, the Supreme Court found that it was unconstitutional for the state of Virginia to ban interracial marriage.

Although there are no longer any laws banning relationships, interracial dating remains a controversial subject for some people.

The Interracial Blog Feature was inspired by my new book, “Beyond The Colored Line”, and was created as a means to foster a better understanding of diverse relationships. Today, we welcome a good friend of mine Allison Wells.

EC: Hey Allison, I’m so excited to have you spending time with us today. Can you give the racial background of you and your husband for the record and how long you’ve been together?

AW: I am half Mexican and half white. We have been together 12, married almost 10.

EC: Awesome. Now, the character in my book, Stella May, is what the people of her era deem a mulatto, that is, she is of mixed ancestry. You have children who are biracial. What advice would you give to mothers of mixed children on how to deal with the stigmas that are often placed to them?

Photo Credit: Copyright© Andre and Allison Wells. Used with permission.

Photo Credit: Copyright© Andre and Allison Wells. Used with permission.

AW: Teach them to love all of who they are but don’t keep them in a bubble, prepare them for what others will say.

EC: That’s a good point. Preparation is so important. What are some challenges that interracial couples deal with that couples of the same race may not have to deal with?

AW: Well since we both grew up differently we had to learn to adjust to each others way of doing things… and food choices :). When it comes to parenting, you learn to compromise when necessary but you also learn to come up with your own ways of doing things. Neither one of us had very involved parents so we have been “learning as we go”.

EC: I get you. Sometimes that’s the best way to go too. OK, so, when African-Americans and Whites marry, there is more likely to be an African-American husband and a white wife. In fact, 73 percent of all African-American and White marriages have this setup. In your opinion and your experience with Interracial Relationships what do you think attracts other ethnicities to black men?

AW: Strength. Black men have a natural strength about them that is very attractive. When I say strength it’s both physical and mental. When dating, if I could walk all over you, it was an instant turn off.

EC: Whew! Now that’s some insight right there, yesss. SPEAK. OK I’m calm lol. So anyway, speaking of black men, I hear a lot of black people, women in particular, accusing other blacks of being “sell outs” when they date outside their race. Have you or your husband ever had the misfortune of the title and why do you think this is?

AW: Yes, I’ve defiantly heard the phrase “why couldn’t he get with a black girl? He’s weak.”

EC: Wow. Why do you think this is? How does it make you feel?

AW: Well I’ve also been on the flip-side of that comment, I’ve had people ask why I was dating someone white but the truth of the matter is people are never going to be happy with your decisions. Everyone has an opinion and some people love to criticize. So I don’t deal in other people’s opinions, it doesn’t affect me either way.

EC: I heard that. Speaking of opinions, a lot of people discern that blacks who speak with a professional tongue are trying to sound white. I speak from experience. My husband is not white but he’s very educated and he grew up in a diverse city as well where the majority of people in the town were white. Of the blacks present, he was teased by them a lot for his speech. They said that he sounded, “White”. As a biracial woman, what are your thoughts on this?

AW: That’s silly to me. I think when people say stuff like that it speaks to their own insecurities. There is nothing wrong with speaking correctly, or “properly.”

EC: True. As my husband would say, just be real about it. Speak how you speak regardless of the company and give everyone the same level of respect. Now, speaking of speech, I’ve always wondered about the conversations between interracial couples concerning the ongoing racial tensions surrounding blacks and whites. Are there any moments where you and your husband disagree with a subject that is race related? If so, how do you deal with that?

AW: I think that it helps us both get a fuller understanding of each side. We don’t disagree often but if we do then we explain our points.

EC: Hmm, so it fosters greater insight into both your perspectives.

AW: Right.

EC: Any time before 1967 your relationship would technically be illegal. How does that make you feel today with the knowledge that you’ve chosen to be with someone outside of your race?

AW: If anything it makes me truly grateful to be born in this time.

EC: Yes indeed. Allison, I want to thank you again for being part of this series, it has truly been a pleasure. If there is one form of advice you would give to people still struggling to accept Interracial Relationships, what would it be?

AW: Love is a strong thing, it sees past color. If you are still struggling then maybe you need to check yourself on that.

EC: I just love how you keep it all the way real. In closing, as someone who has been married for some time, name one thing that has kept your relationship going.

Photo Credit: Copyright© Andre and Allison Wells. Used with permission.

Photo Credit: Copyright© Andre and Allison Wells. Used with permission.

AW: I think what has kept us together for this long is our respect for one another, our faith, and communication.

EC: Such a beautiful couple, thank you Allison for your time.

AW: Anytime.

And that’s it family, Allison Wells on Interracial Marriages. As you can see from our Q&A, the purpose of this series is to shed light on the fact that mankind was made to be compatible with one another regardless of race. Thank you Mrs. Wells for joining me in this series. It was insightful and educational, I sure did learn a lot.

file(7)Stay tuned for our final week of Interracial Marriages. We’ll be wrapping up our series with our final interviewee and a surprise gift from me to all of my guests! You don’t want to miss it.