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Thursday, 22 October 2015

BLACK SOCIAL HISTORY : AFROCENTRISM - IS A CULTURAL IDEOLOGY, WORLD VIEW MOSTLY LIMITED TO THE UNITED STATES

BLACK    SOCIAL   HISTORY                                                                                                                                                 Afrocentrism


Afrocentrism (also Afrocentricity) is a cultural ideologyworldview mostly limited to the United States and is dedicated to the history of Black people. It is a response to global (Eurocentric/Orientalist) attitudes about African people and their historical contributions and revisits their history with an African cultural and ideological focus. Afrocentricity deals primarily with self-determination and African agency and is a Pan-African ideology in culture, philosophy, and history.[1][2]
Afrocentrism can be seen as an African-American inspired ideology that manifests an affirmation of themselves in a Eurocentric-dominated society, commonly by conceptualizing a glorified heritage in terms of distinctly African, foreign origins (where foreign is anything not indigenous to the African continent). It often denies or minimizes European cultural influences while accenting historical African civilizations that independently accomplished a significant level of cultural and technological development. In general, Afrocentrism is usually manifested in a focus on African-American culture and the history of Africa, and involves an African Diasporaversion of an African-centered view of history and culture to portray the achievements and development of Africans who have been marginalized.
What is today broadly called Afrocentrism evolved out of the work of African-American intellectuals in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, but flowered into its modern form due to the activism of African-American intellectuals in the U.S. Civil Rights Movement and in the development of African-American Studies programs in universities. In strict terms Afrocentrism, as a distinct academic ideology, reached its peak in the 1980s and 1990s.[3] Today it is primarily associated with Molefi Asante.[4]
Proponents of Afrocentrism support the claim that the contributions of various African people have been downplayed or discredited as part of the legacy of colonialism and slavery's pathology of "writing Africans out of history".[5][6] Critics of Afrocentricity accuse it of being pseudo-history,[7] reactive,[8] and therapeutic.[9]

Terminology

The term "Afrocentrism" dates to 1962.[10] The adjective "Afrocentric" appears in a typescript proposal for an entry in Encyclopedia Africana, possibly due to W. E. B. Du Bois.[11]The abstract noun "Afrocentricity" dates to the 1970s,[12][page needed] and was popularized by Molefi Asante's Afrocentricity: The Theory of Social Change (1980).

History


A 1911 copy of the NAACP journalThe Crisis depicting "Ra-Maat-Neb, one of the kings of the Upper Nile", a copy of the relief portrayingNebmaatre I onMeroe pyramid 17.
Afrocentrism has its origins in the work of African and African diaspora intellectuals in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, following social changes in the United States and Africa due both to the end of slavery and the decline of colonialism. Following the American Civil War, African Americans in theSouth gathered together in communities to evade white control, established their own church congregations, and worked hard to gain education. They increasingly took more active public roles despite severe racial discrimination and segregation.[13] American and African intellectuals looked to the African past for a re-evaluation of what its civilizations had achieved and what they meant for contemporary people.[14][15]
The combination of the European centuries gives us about four to five hundred years of solid European domination of intellectual concepts and philosophical ideas. Africa and Asia were subsumed under various headings of the European hierarchy. If a war between the European powers occurred it was called a World War and the Asians and Africans found their way on the side of one European power or the other.There was this sense of assertiveness about European culture that advanced with Europe’s trade, religious, and military forces.[16]
— Dr. Molefi Asante, De-Westernizing Communication: Strategies for Neutralizing Cultural Myths
As an ideology and political movement, Afrocentrism had its beginnings in activism among black intellectuals, political figures, and historians in the context of the US American civil rights movement.[17][page needed] According to U.S. professor Victor Oguejiofor Okafor, concepts of Afrocentricity lie at the core of disciplines such as African American studies.[18] But Wilson J. Moses claims that Afrocentrism roots are not exclusively African:
Despite the fulminations of ethno-chauvinists and other prejudiced persons, it remains a fact that the contributions of white scholars, like Boas, Malinowski, and Herskovits, were fundamental to that complex of ideas that we designate to days as Afrocentrism...Students of African and African American history have long appreciated the irony that much of what we now call Afrocentrism was developed during the 1930s by the Jewish American scholar Melville Herskovits[19]
— Wilson J. Moses, Historical Sketches of Afrocentrism
In 1987, Martin Bernal published his Black Athena, in which he claims ancient Greece was colonized by northern invaders mixing with a colony established by Phoenicia (modern Lebanon). A major theme of the work is the alleged denial by Western academia of the African and (western) Asiatic influence on ancient Greek culture.

Aspects

Afrocentricity Book

In 2000, Molefi Kete Asante, chair of the Department of African American Studies at Temple University gave a lecture at the University of Liverpool entitled "Afrocentricity: Toward a New Understanding of African Thought in this Millennium,"[20] in which he presented many of his ideas:
  • Africa has been betrayed by international commerce, by missionaries and imams, by the structure of knowledge imposed by the Western world, by its own leaders, and by the ignorance of its own people of its past.
  • Philosophy originated in Africa and the first philosophers in the world were Africans.
  • Afrocentricity constitutes a new way of examining data, and a novel orientation to data; it carries with it assumptions about the current state of the African world.
  • His aim is "to help lay out a plan for the recovery of African place, respectability, accountability, and leadership."
  • Afrocentricity can stand its ground among any ideology or religion: Marxism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, or Judaism. Your Afrocentricity will emerge in the presence of these other ideologies because it is from you.
  • Afrocentrism is the only ideology that can liberate African people.
Asante also stated:
However, Wilson J. Moses, says "his second book, The Afrocentric Idea (1987), was a creative and in some respects brilliant but rambling theoretical work, much influenced by the revolution in "critical theory" that occurred in American intellectual life during the late 1970s and early 1980s."[3] Some also assert that the definition of Afrocentricity has never sat still long enough to be properly described and accurately critiqued.[citation needed]

"African-centered education"

Afrocentricity and African-Centered share similar roots, and objectives, but are very different because African-centered only refers to the worldview inherent in African people (African and centered); which is natural and evident in all cultures. It therefore deals with cultural pedagogy, but is different from Afrocentrism which is an ideology, not only a worldview.[citation needed] The premise behind African-Centered Education is the notion that human beings can be subjugated and made servile by limiting their consciousness of themselves and by imposing certain selective aspects of alien knowledge on them.[21][page needed]

Afrocentric theology

The black church in the United States developed out of the creolization of African spirituality and European-American Christianity; early members of the churches made certain stories their own. During the antebellum years, the idea of deliverance out of slavery, as in the story of Exodus, was especially important. After Reconstruction and the restoration of white supremacy, their hope was based on deliverance from segregation and other abuses. They found much to respond to in the idea of a personal relationship with Jesus, and shaped their churches by the growth of music and worship styles that related to African as well as European-American traditions.[citation needed]
Twentieth-century "Africentric approaches" to Christian theology and preaching have been more deliberate. Writers and thinkers emphasize "Black presence" in the Christian Bible, including the idea of a "Black Jesus".[22][page needed]

Kwanzaa

In 1966 Maulana Karenga of the US Organization created Kwanzaa as the first specifically African American holiday.[23][24] Karenga said his goal was to "give Blacks an alternative to the existing holiday and give Blacks an opportunity to celebrate themselves and history, rather than simply imitate the practice of the dominant society."[25]

Race and Pan-African identit                                                                                          Ancient Egyptian race controversy, Pan-Africanism and Black supremacy

Many Afrocentrists[who?] seek to challenge concepts such as white privilegecolor-blind perspectives, and race-neutral pedagogies. There are strong ties between Afrocentricity and Critical race theory.[26]
Afrocentrists hold that Africans exhibit a range of types and physical characteristics, and that such elements as wavy hair or aquiline facial features are part of a continuum of African types that do not depend on admixture with Caucasian groups. They cite work by Hiernaux[27][page needed] and Hassan[28] that they believe demonstrates that populations could vary based on micro-evolutionary principles (climate adaptation, drift, selection), and that such variations existed in both living and fossil Africans.[29]
Afrocentrists have condemned what they consider to be attempts at dividing African peoples into racial clusters as new versions of what they deem older, discredited theories, such as the "Hamitic Hypothesis" and the Dynastic Race Theory. These theories, they contend, attempted to identify certain African ethnicities, such as Nubians, Ethiopians and Somalis, as "Caucasoid" groups that entered Africa to bring civilization to the natives. They believe that Western academics have traditionally limited the peoples they defined as "Black" Africans to those south of the Sahara, but used broader "Caucasoid" or related categories to classify peoples of Egypt or North Africa. Afrocentrists also believe strongly in the work of certain anthropologists who have suggested that there is little evidence to support that the North African populations are closely related to "Caucasoids" of Europe and western Asia.[27]
In 1964 Afrocentric scholar Cheikh Anta Diop expressed a belief in such a double standard:
French historian Jean Vercoutter has claimed that archaeological workers routinely classified Negroid remains as Mediterranean, even though they found such remains in substantial numbers with ancient artefacts.[30]
Some Afrocentrists[who?] have adopted a pan-Africanist perspective that people of color are all "African people" or "diasporic Africans," citing physical characteristics they exhibit in common with Black Africans. Afrocentric scholar Runoko Rashidi writes that they are all part of the "global African community." Some Afrocentric writers include in the African diaspora the Dravidians of India, "Negritos" of Southeast Asia (Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia); and the aboriginal peoples of Australia and Melanesia.[citation needed]
A few Afrocentrists[who?] claim that the Olmecs of Mexico were a hybrid society of Native American peoples and Africans. Mainstream historians of Mesoamerica overwhelmingly reject that view with detailed rebuttals.[31]

Pre-Columbian Africa-Americas theories

In the 1970s, Ivan van Sertima advanced the theory that the complex civilizations of the Americas were the result of trans-oceanic influence from the Egyptians or other African civilizations. Such a claim is his primary thesis in They Came Before Columbus, published in 1978. The few hyper-diffusionist writers seek to establish that the Olmec people, who built the first highly complex civilization in Mesoamerica and are considered by some to be the mother civilization for all other civilizations of Mesoamerica, were deeply influenced by Africans. Van Sertima said that the Olmec civilization was a hybrid one of Africans and Native Americans. His theory of pre-Columbian American-African contact has since met with considerable and detailed opposition by scholars of Mesoamerica. Van Sertima has been accused of "doctoring" and twisting data to fit his conclusions, inventing evidence, and ignoring the work of respected Central and South American scholars in the advance of his own theory.[31]

Afrocentrism and Ancient Egypt

Several Afrocentrists have claimed that important cultural characteristics of ancient Egypt were indigenous to Africa and that these features were present in other early African civilizations[32] such as the later Kerma and the Meroitic civilizations of Nubia.[33] Scholars who have held this view include Marcus GarveyGeorge JamesCheikh Anta Diop,Martin BernalIvan van SertimaJohn Henrik ClarkeChancellor Williams, and Molefi Kete Asante. The claim has also been made by many Afrocentric scholars that the Ancient Egyptians themselves were Black African or Africoid people and that the various invasions on Egypt resulted in the Africanity of Ancient Egypt becoming diluted, resulting in the modern diversity seen today.[34][page needed]
Scholars have challenged the various assertions of Afrocentrists on the cultural and biological characteristics of Ancient Egyptian civilization and its people. At a UNESCOSymposium in the 1970s, the vast majority of the delegates repudiated the Afrocentric assertions.[35] Zahi Hawass has gone on record as saying that the Ancient Egyptians were not black and Ancient Egypt was not a Black African Civilization.[36] It should also be noted that Egyptians themselves did not refer to themselves as 'Black' as they had no conception of 'race'. S.O.Y. Keita, a biological anthropologist studying the controversy however, finds simplistic political appellations (in the negative or affirmative) describing ancient populations as 'black' or 'white' to be inaccurate and instead focuses on the ancestry of ancient Egypt as being a part of the native and diverse biological variation of Africa, which includes a variety of phenotypes and skin gradients.[37] Responding to Hawass' assertion in the press that Egyptians were not Black or that Egypt was not an African civilization, Keita claims that Hawass' statement obscures the reality of research in the Nile valley that paints a very complex picture and that most people familiar with this research would not get up in front of a group to make such a claim so openly.[38][verification needed]

Hamitic Hypothesis

Stephen Howe summarizes the development of the "Hamitic Hypothesis" in the 19th and 20th centuries as Eurocentric. He further describes how some Afrocentric writers adopted 'their version' of it. Howe distinguishes three clusters of controversies related to the history of Ancient Egypt. About the third cluster he says that these are "controversies that have been especially salient in relation to the United States, have interacted heavily with sensitive issues of current public policy, and involve questions both wide and fundamentally about the United States."[39][page needed]

Criticism

Within Afrocentrism, claims were forwarded involving the contention that African civilizations were founding influences on such distant civilizations as the American Olmec and the Chinese Xia cultures.[31][40]
Yaacov Shavit, a critic of the movement, summarises its goals in the preface to his book History in Black,[41][page needed] in which he states:
Other critics[who?] contend that some Afrocentric historical research is grounded in identity politics and myth rather than scholarship.[42][page needed] In The Skeptic's Dictionary,[43]philosophy professor Robert Todd Carroll labeled Afrocentrism "pseudohistorical". He argued that Afrocentrism's prime goal was to encourage black nationalism and ethnic pride in order to effectively combat the destructive consequences of cultural and universal racism.[44][page needed][45] Similarly, African-American professor Clarence E. Walker who teaches history at the University of California, Davis, has described Afrocentrism as "a mythology that is racist, reactionary, essentially therapeutic and is eurocentrism in black face."[46]
"Afrocentrism offers little more than a psychological and therapeutic feel-good-together philosophy."~ Tunde Adeleke, The Case against Afrocentrism
Mary Lefkowitz, Professor Emerita of Classical Studies at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, has rejectedGeorge James's theories about Egyptian contributions to Greek civilization as being faulty scholarship. She notes that he used sources that predated the deciphering of Egyptian hieroglyphs. He failed to acknowledge that many of his theories were overturned by the evidence of later findings. She contends that ancient Egyptian texts show little similarity to Greek philosophy. Lefkowitz also pointed out that Aristotle could not have stolen his ideas from the great Library at Alexandria as James suggested, because the library was founded after Aristotle's death. Because of such fundamental errors of fact, Lefkowitz has criticized Afrocentrism as "an excuse to teach myth as history."[42][page needed]
In 1994 the Manhattan Institute, a public policy forum, published Alternatives to Afrocentrism, a collection of highly critical essays by, among others, Lefkowitz, Gerald Early, Stanley Crouch, Wilson Moses, and Frank Yurco. Early, an African American, has been especially critical and dismisses Afrocentrism as just another North American experiment in "group therapy," a kind of "intellectual fast food".[citation needed]
In 2002 Ibrahim Sundiata noted in the American Historical Review that
Cain Hope Felder, a Professor of New Testament Language and Literature at Howard University and supporter of Afrocentric ideas, has warned Afrocentrists to avoid certain pitfalls,[49] including:
  • Demonizing categorically all white people, without careful differentiation between persons of goodwill and those who consciously perpetuate racism.
  • Adopting multiculturalism as a curricular alternative that eliminates, marginalizes, or vilifies European heritage to the point that Europe epitomizes all the evil in the world.
  • Gross over-generalizations and using factually or incorrect material is bad history and bad scholarship.[49]
Nathan Glazer writes that although Afrocentricity can mean many things, the popular press has generally given most attention to its most outlandish theories.[50] Glazer agrees with many of the findings and conclusions presented in Lefkowitz's book Not Out of Africa. Yet he also argues that Afrocentrism often presents legitimate and relevant scholarship.[50] The late Manning Marable was also a critic of Afrocentrism. He wrote:[9]
Populist Afrocentrism was the perfect social theory for the upwardly mobile black petty bourgeoisie. It gave them a sense of ethnic superiority and cultural originality, without requiring the hard, critical study of historical realities. It provided a philosophical blueprint to avoid concrete struggle within the real world.... It was, in short, only the latest theoretical construct of a politics of racial identity, a world-view designed to discuss the world but never really to change it.
— Manning Marable, Beyond Black and White: Transforming African American Politics
Some Afrocentrists[who?] agree in rejecting those works which critics have characterized as examples of bad scholarship. Adisa A. Alkebulan notes that the work of Afrocentric scholars is not fully appreciated because critics use the claims of "a few non-Afrocentrists" as "an indictment against Afrocentricity."[51]
In 1996 the historian August Meier critically reviewed the new work of Mary Lefkowitz on Afrocentrism as "Eurocentric". He criticized her book Not out of Africa: How Afrocentrism became an Excuse to Teach Myth as History for what he saw as her neglect of the African-American historic literature of the 19th and 20th centuries. Meier believes she fails to take the African-American experiences into account, to the extent that she "fails to answer the question raised in this book's subtitle".[52]
Maghan Keita describes the controversy over Afrocentrism as a cultural war. He believes certain "epistemologies" are warring with each other: the "epistemology of blackness" argues for the "responsibilities and potential of black peoples to function in and contribute to the progress of civilization."[53]

List of prominent authors































































Pile of books on Afrocentrism
  • Marimba Ani,[54] professor, author and activist: Yurugu: An Afrikan-centered Critique of European Cultural Thought and Behavior (Trenton: Africa World Press, 1994).
  • Molefi Kete Asante, professor, author: Afrocentricity: The theory of Social ChangeThe Afrocentric IdeaThe Egyptian Philosophers: Ancient African Voices from Imhotep to Akhenaten
  • Jacob Carruthers, Egyptologist; founding director of the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilization; founder and director of the Kemetic Institute, Chicago
  • Cheikh Anta Diop,[55][56] author: The African Origin of Civilization: Myth or RealityCivilization or Barbarism: An Authentic AnthropologyPrecolonial Black AfricaThe Cultural Unity of Black Africa: The Domains of Patriarchy and of Matriarchy in Classical AntiquityThe Peopling of Ancient Egypt & the Deciphering of the Meroitic Script
  • H. B. ("Barry") Fell, Harvard professor, biologist, author: Saga America, 1980[57]
  • Yosef Ben-Jochannan, author: African Origins of Major "Western Religions"Black Man of the Nile and His FamilyAfrica: Mother of Western CivilizationNew Dimensions in African HistoryThe Myth of Exodus and Genesis and the Exclusion of Their African OriginsAfrica: Mother of Western CivilizationAbu Simbel to Ghizeh: A Guide Book and Manual
  • Jones, Gayl (1998). The Healing. Boston: Beacon Press. ISBN 978-0-8070-6314-9. The protagonist of this novel describes her ongoing daily experiences in the US using a consistently Afrocentric perspective.
  • Runoko Rashidi,[58] author: Introduction to African CivilizationsThe global African community: The African presence in Asia, Australia, and the South Pacific
  • J.A. Rogers, author: Sex and Race: Negro-Caucasian Mixing in All Ages and All Lands: The Old WorldNature Knows No Color LineSex and Race: A History of White, Negro, and Indian Miscegenation in the Two Americas: The New World100 Amazing Facts About the Negro With Complete Proof: A Short Cut to the World History of the Negro
  • Ivan van Sertima, author: They Came before Columbus: The African Presence in Ancient AmericaAfrican Presence in Early Europe ISBN 0-88738-664-4Blacks in Science Ancient and ModernAfrican Presence in Early AsiaAfrican Presence in Early AmericaEarly America RevisitedEgypt Revisited: Journal of African CivilizationsNile Valley CivilizationsEgypt: Child of Africa (Journal of African Civilizations, V. 12)The Golden Age of the Moor (Journal of African Civilizations, Vol. 11, Fall 1991)Great Black Leaders: Ancient and ModernGreat African Thinkers: Cheikh Anta Diop[59]
  • Chancellor Williams, author: The Destruction of Black Civilization: Great Issues of a Race from 4500 B.C. to 2000 A.D.
  • Théophile Obenga, author: Ancient Egypt and Black Africa: a student's handbook for the study of Ancient Egypt in philosophy, linguistics, and gender relations
  • Asa Hilliard, III, author: SBA: The Reawakening of the African MindThe Teachings of Ptahhotep