Afrocentric study provides the African American the self discipline, the intellectual ideals, love of learning and other motivational attributes necessary for their acquisition of success, and protection from the mental, and physical suffering caused by WHITE RACISM which takes hold of Third World people due to the C.A.I.D.S. virus.
On the other hand, Eurocentricism because of its roots in white supremacy and Negro inferiority cause these salient African attributes to be lacking in most African Americans. Jewish scholars long ago recognized the need for self segregation i.e., Jewish institutions to support Jewish traditions.
Afrocentric studies should be compared to Jewish studies. Jewish studies aim to teach Judaism to Jews and promote Jewish learning and scholarship. No serious commentators attack the self segregation institution of the Jews that promote Jewish learning and Jewish self esteem.
Given this reality, Afrocentricism major objective is to foster Afrocentric learning and scholarship and teach the lessons of African civilization to African Americans so they can see the learning,science and institutions this civilization called into being in the East and the West. This body of knowledge should promote confidence in African American youth so they can compete with their fellow Americans.
Today their is an all out attack against Afrocentricism by the Media establishment. No Eurocentric scholars will openly support their attack against Afrocentric scholars by presenting opposing evidence from history,art and archaeology to dispute the Afrocentric claims they just attack Afrocentric scholars and misrepresent what they have said or written.
Many Eurocentric scholars reject Afrocentricism because of their desire to hide the TRUTH ABOUT THE AFRICAN'S PAST and continue to perpetuate racism. These people refuse to see the African American, or Africans in Africa and the rest of the Diaspora develop self respect and racial self esteem. Dr.M.K.
Asante, of Temple University observed that:
"Most African-American children sit in classrooms, yet
are outside the information being discussed. The white
child sits in the middle of information, whether it is
literature, history, politics or art. The task of the
Afrocentric curriculum is finding patterns in African-
American history and culture that help the teacher
place the child in the middle of the intellectual
Over the past twenty years Afro-American researchers have been developing the idea of Afrocentricism. This field of Africalogical research has been excellently outlined by Asante (1990) when he observed that:
"The Afrocentrist seeks to uncover and use codes, paradigms, symbols, motifs, myhts and circles of discussion that reinforce the centrality of African ideals values as a valid frame of reference for acquiring and examining data".(p.6)
Although Afrocentric scholars have been writing on africalogical themes for many years due to the success of the late Dr. Asa G. Hilliard of Georgia State University and Molefi Kete Asante of Temple University, the Afrocentric idea in education has spread from a small group of advanced Afro-American scholars to high school and elementary school teachers. Africalogy, as explained by Asante (1990,p.30) "builds upon theoretical princeples outlined by previous scholars....The fundamental theoretical bases for Africalogy are derived from the Afrocentric perspective".
Due to the attempt of many educators to advance Afrocentricism as a part of the multicultural perspective in the social science/ social studies curriculum there has been a white backlash.
Given the increasing popularity of Afrocentricism and multiculturalism among teachers around the United States, man white "resisters" have began a campaign to discredit Afrocentricism which is really an educational idea aimed to establish racial self-esteem.
Racial self esteem is pride in one's own race/ethnic group. Racial self esteem, which is the goal of Afrocentricism can not be equated with racism because racism is the notion that one's own ethnic group is superior to other races or ethnic groups. Afrocentricism just explains the historical role of the African in history.It is based upon the reality truth of the sources of history. It aims to combat C.A.I.D.S.
The letters C.A.I.D.S. mean Culturally Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. C.A.I.D.S. has caused much destruction in the African American community, it is the psychological equivalent to the A.I.D.S. virus.
The C.A.I.D.S. virus is caused primarily by placing the pursuit of European culture and values over the traditional culture and values of Afro American and African people. This lack of race pride, knowledge of one's past leads to feelings of racial inferiority. Due to C.A.I.D.S. many African Americans are ignorant of their past, and thusly lack the human values necessary to protect African American culture from self destruction.
The Eurocentrists refer to Afrocentricism as "a cult", "group separatism", "educational separatism" or "racism". In their opinion Afrocentricism is anti Americanism. To support this claim they admonish that the basic American principles: 1) separation of powers, 2) representative government, human rights and ,4) individual liberty all came from Europe. In reality, although these philosophical trends were used to develop the American value system they were not the traditions of Europeans. No historian will deny that before America, no European government accepted these ideas. In fact the American system is recognized as one of "history's boldest experiments".
Although democratic traditions were not present in Europe until the rise of the United States, in Africa these values and others had been around for thousands of years. For example, whereas Greek democracy only allowed the propertied class to participate in government, in Africa the people often chose their own representatives who legislated laws for their communities.
Whereas in Europe, the conquerors ruled with an iron hand, and deviance from majority norms were not allowed, in Africa the governmental system even under an Emperor was a Federal system in which all the ethnic groups were allowed full autonomy, as long as they recognized the supremacy of the Emperor. In empires such as Arwe in modern Ethiopia, Kush, Ghana and Mali the individual rights, liberties and ethnic cultures were recognized. As a result although we see in European history where entire populations were fully assimilated with the lost of language and culture , or entire races have disappeared or are experiencing genocide like the Bosnians are today in the name of " Ethnic Cleansing"; in Africa on the otherhand, changes in the government did not result in extermination of entire tribes and the resulting lost of language until the modern period as a result of colonial European influences. This lack of a true democratic traditions among Europeans explains their present attack on Afrocentricism because, it declares that African Americans have a history and culture that must be respected.
The view of Western culture is that man must make progress. But progress is not made by Europeans for the future of Mankind. Progress to the European is self-centered progress, aimed at satisfying the needs of the individual. According to Michael Bradley, author of The Iceman's Inheritance, Europeans try to surpass "the past, and proclaim the unique identity of each successive lifetime, with the invention of the concept of progress". He continues, to note that this progress does not benefit future generations because, "Instinctual territorial defense of identity demanded that the past be surpassed and that the future be limited" (p.17). Bradley, a European himself explained that ,"Democracy is a form of government that assumes distrust on the part of the governed, [and] dishonesty on the part of the government. Our checks and balances presuppose no trusting or fitting relationship between leaders and followers, no mutually beneficial pact".
This view is in sharp contrast to the African view of government. Professor Joseph Ki Zerbo writing in the UNESCO Courier, observed that "In spite of instances of sanguinary autocracy, the State authority in black Africa nearly always took the form of a limited monarchy within a framework of corporate bodies and customs, veritable unwritten constitutions most
often inherited from an earlier organization or social stratifications."He continued ,"Their decentralization, adopted as deliberate choices, allowed the basic communities to function with a very real measure of autonomy even in the great empires like Mali".
At the base of Eurocentricism is the doctrine of white supremacy. This ideological foundation aims to thwart the African Americans search for manhood and self assertion, when ever they encounter intensified prejudice by white Americans.
A major component of Eurocentricism is the notion of African American intellectual inferiority. As a result, European scholars can write and research the history of any people on earth. African Americans on the otherhand, are believed to lack the intellectual capacity to research, let alone write history.
Due to the alleged intellectual inferiority of African Americans it is believed that they are unsuited to write ancient history, international affairs, or archaeology. This may result from several factors especially racial bias and social position. These factors are important ,because of the fact that formerly persons writing on these topics usually came from well to do families that could provide them with the capital to undertake research activities abroad. This belief has ghettoized African American scholars and authors , to writing only about slavery, the slave trade and/or the cycle of poverty typified by life in the urban centers of the United States.
Due to C.A.I.D.S. the vast majority of African Americans feel inferior to Europeans. Because of these feelings of inferiority many middle class African Americans and the Black Church have perpetuated Eurocentricism instead of fighting to encourage race pride among African Americans. This failure to assert manliness has allowed C.A.I.D.S. to run rampant in Afro America . This malady has caused the rise of many social problems among African Americans who have adopted a negative lifestyle: gangs, bastardy and etc., first imposed on the African slave, but today identical negative behaviors are being perpetua-ted by African Americans who believe that Black Culture is having children out of wedlock, and any other negative visions of America such as gangbanging popularized by the media. All of these negative cultural elements have no basis in Africa, and are the result of C.A.I.D.S.
The African American middle class after the 1920's has avoided identification with Afrocentricism, cultural nationalism or race consciousness. Harold Cruse has pointed out that "The [Southern] black middle class as it was constituted (even in the north) was not committed to any serious sponsorship of promising artists or any involvement in the 'politics of culture'". [ii]
The Church , long an expression of African American independence has also failed to combat the destructive effects of C.A.I.D.S., because its middle class materialist orientation. [iii] The capitulation of the Black Church and the African American middle class to Eurocentric values has not brought them assimilation or integration into the American mainstream , but no true African-American cultural identity , based on African history and African traditions. [iv]
This is especially true of African American academics. Granted,today we have more African American professors then ever before. Yet, these academics produce few if any research articles, or even serve as editors of mainstream intellectual journals. The most glaring evidence of the devastating effects of C.A.I.D.S., is that except for the Afrocentric scholars who self publish , since the demise of the journal Black World, in the 1970's African Americans do not have a journal which expresses the intellectual ideas, and culture of the African in America. The failure of the African American academics /intellectuals to publish their own journal suggest that either they have nothing to say, are afraid to express their own opinions without the approval of the department heads at the Universities where they teach, or they simply feel inferior to whites because of their contraction of the C.A.I.D.S. virus. The failure of African American intellectuals to publish their work in mainstream publications also highlight the inability of African Americans to be fully integrated into American academia. Due to Eurocentricism , even those African American "scholars " recognized as competent researchers can only hope to associate with the American Academic Establishment, not assimi-late into it.
Afrocentricism is the ultimate remedy for the diseases associated with C.A.I.D.S. , such as alleged racial inferiority and racism that destroy the spirit of African Americans, and especially the self confidence one needs to compete in the United States face the challenge of LIFE and WIN! Asante, has noted that "Afrocentricity resonates with the African-American community because it is fundamental to sanity. It is the fastest growing intellectual and practical idea in the community because of its validity when tested against other experiences". [v]
W.E.B. DuBois, in The Souls of Black Folks, has categorize three principle responses of African Americans to the maladies associated with the C.A.I.D.S. especially white racism. They are l) revolt and revenge, 2) submission to the will of the racist, and 3) a determined effort for self esteem [vi].
According DuBois, the first response of African-Americans to racism can be categorize as the slave insurrections led by Gabriel in Virginia in 1800, Vesey in Carolina in 1822, and Nat Turner also in Virginia around 1831. After slavery this period is best typified by the Black Nationalist Movement of the 1960's, which began with the martyrdom of Malcolm X and the rise of militant organizations in African-American communities such as the Black Panthers, SNCC and the Republic of New Africa. These movements, like the slave rebellions a hundred years earlier were brutally suppressed and destroyed by local state and national police agencies.
The second form of response made by African American to white racism is typified by the African American middle class , Black Church and violent African American gangs. The gangs show their affliction with C.A.I.D.S. through their preoccupation with acquiring material gain, wealth/money (the cornerstones of Eurocentricism the free enterprise economic system with little concern about what happens to their fellow man in the process of acquiring material gain. As a result although many African American gangs will have very positive pro Black "literature", i.e., by laws and history that they teach members of gang to justify their existence as a "positive" force in the community;but in reality , members of these gangs sell drugs and murder one another simply for the love of money. This only increases the riches of peopling living outside their communities, and support the Eurocentric myths that African people can not accomplish positive things without the guidance of Europeans, their culture and "science".
The third response to white racism was formerly the "Negro" Renaissance of the 1920's. Today this response to white supremacy founded upon objective scholarship is Afrocentricism. An Afrocentric view of history is especially needed to combat the debilitating effects of white supremacy. It was noted in the report of the Task Force on Minorities commissioned by the New York State Board of Education that:"African Americans, Asian Americans, Puerto Rican/ Latinos and Native Americans have all been victims of an intellectual and educational oppression that has characterized the culture and institutions of the United States and the European American World for Centuries.
The aim of Afrocentricism is to strengthen the cultural awareness of African people so they can have the self confidence to fight C.A.I.D.S. Afrocentricism is the ideational code African Americans can use to conceptualize the universe in which they live and interact. Culture can be defined as man's learned, accumulated social experience including man's art, belief, customs, knowledge, law and morals that are transmitted and shared by a social group. In general culture refers to a system of learned ideas, not what we do or make.
The second aim of Afrocentricism is the unification of African Americans into a compact enlighten society. Society refers to a collection of people who share a common culture and language that exist as a distinct unit. The awareness of African civilizations by African people should encourage racial self esteem and help them recognize their brilliant past, so they can know the depth of their own potential and work for a positive , productive future.
Afrocentric scholars research the history of African and black civilizations to
recover the true history of Black and African people and their achievements and contribution to the rise of world civilization and western cultural and social values. This results from the fact that history is society's method of explaining an individual's self image within a given society. This unifies that individual to other members of the society. It is through history, that a conglomerate of individuals come together to express a shared identity and culture.
In summary , African-Americans are confronted by a debilitating disease C.A.I.D.S, which if left unchecked can make it impossible for African-American youth to suceed, with the self-esteem necessary to avoid gangs and other negative cultural expressions rampant in African-American communities since slavery. To remedy the spread of this contagious disease we advocate Afrocentrism , and the knowledge of the role of "Blacks" in the creation of WORLD CIVILIZATION. Let the truth be seen by ALL.
[i]. M.K. Asante, "Putting Africa at the Center", Newsweek ,
23 September 1991, p.46.
[ii].Harold Cruse, Plural but Equal, (New York:William Morrow, 1987)
[iii]. Ibid., p. 236.
[iv]. A good movement to encourage positive cultural traditions in the African -American community is the annual Kwanza celebration that is held in the black community during the Christmas season.
[v]. Asante, p.46.
[vi]. W.E.B. DuBois, The Souls of Black Folks ,(New York: Bantam Books, 1989) p.34.