Dr. Aimee Glocke, a white professor in California State University Northridge’s Africana Studies department, and eight non-black professors in Dartmouth College’s African and African American Studies program received the letters earlier this year. Glocke immediately recognized the unique language of the letter addressed to her and a colleague when she opened it in early January.

“Ref: Epistle to Shemitic and Japhetic Egyptologists and Scholars of Black History,” the five-page, single-spaced missive began. “I, Pharaoh Akhenaton-in-My-new-name-The Lord God AlphaKhenOmega find thee guilty of raiding My tombs.”

“Shemitic and Japhetic” refer to Jews and Europeans, based on a biblical interpretation that Noah’s three sons, Shem, Japheth and Ham, birthed the Asian/Semitic, European and African peoples, respectively. Dr. Glocke and her colleague are the only white (or perceived to be white) professors in CSU Northridge’s Africana Studies department, and that made them targets of the death threats.

The reference to Pharaoh Akhenaton is more esoteric, but Dr. Glocke recognized the ancient ruler as the founder of a sun-worshipping cult in ancient Egypt. The letter continues using this language, at times taunting its recipients (“Shemitic and Japhetic heirs … teach Me about Black History, African Studies – teach Me all about Ham!”) and proceeding to a series of threats (“May your death come speedily. May you never resurrect. … You are guilty of desecrating the tombs of Gods and Goddesses. For this you must be killed.”).

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