Form and Content

(Literary Essentials: African American Literature)

Afrocentricity is one response to the separation of African Americans from the core of their heritage through slavery; historical untruths; and political, educational, and economic oppression. Afrocentric studies seek to recapture, through historical and cultural awareness, a full understanding of how African Americans should view the world. In Afrocentricity, Molefi K. Asante suggests that African Americans should disencumber themselves from the Eurocentric point of view and adopt instead a way of thinking that gives primacy to the cultural achievements of Africans and African Americans.

To adopt the idea of Afrocentricity, one must first accept the proposition that there is a coherent African cultural system based on values and experiences common to the people of the African diaspora. Asante cautions that an Afrocentric people should not replace its history, culture, mythology, or language. The infusion and adoption of another culture into the African experience is in direct conflict with traditional African values. People of African descent throughout the world, Asante argues, should embrace what is theirs and discard values and ideologies acquired from other cultures. Asante claims that such acquisitions serve to cripple and dilute the rich heritage of Africans everywhere.

Afrocentricity is not a new concept but a restatement of ideas associated with a number of past leaders of the African American community. In his first chapter, Asante examines the lives and works of Booker T. Washington, W. E. B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, Elijah...

(The entire section is 644 words.)


(Literary Essentials: African American Literature)

Asante, Molefi Kete. “Afrocentric Curriculum.” Educational Leadership 219 (December, 1991-January, 1992): 28-31. Discussion of how an Afrocentric curriculum empowers students. Also discusses how Asante began to conceptualize Afrocentricity, why African American youths are not motivated to learn and achieve in American schools, and the importance of respect in gaining empowerment.

Asante, Molefi Kete. “The Afrocentric Idea in Education.” The Journal of Negro Education 62 (Spring, 1991): 170-180. Outlines the principles that govern the development of the Afrocentric ideas in education first mentioned by Carter G. Woodson in his book The Mis-education of the Negro (1933). Asante examines the approach and rationale for Afrocentric education in the United States. He describes public schools as failing to accommodate the needs of all African American children.

Conyers, James L., Jr., ed. Afrocentricity and the Academy: Essays on Theory and Practice. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2003. Collection of essays by leading academics exploring the intersection between scholarship and activism and the role of Afrocentricity in the academy.

Edwards, Ralph. “Include the African-American Community in the Debate.” Social Policy 22 (Winter, 1992): 37-39. Argues that the plight of the African American in urban communities remained virtually unchanged during the 1980’s, because the African American voice was never taken seriously.

Kantrowitz, Barbara. “A Is for Ashanti, B Is for Black . . . and C Is for Curriculum, Which Is Starting to Change.” Newsweek 118 (September 23, 1991): 45-48. Reactionary article on the status and the impact of exclusively African American schools in the United States. The article cites critics such as William Bennett, who perceives these schools as antiwhite, commenting on the fact that many Americans see these schools as threatening Western-civilization-oriented curricula.

Mazama, Ama, ed. The Afrocentric Paradigm. Trenton, N.J.: Africa World Press, 2003. Collection of essays exploring the concept of Afrocentricity as an organizing principle for various disciplines and projects. Includes four essays by Asante.

Smith, Willy DeMarcell, and Eva Wells Chunn, eds. Black Education: A Quest for Equity and Excellence. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction, 1989. Compilation of articles portraying African American education in transition. The articles deal with the benefits of school desegregation, higher education, and the impact of federal legislation on African American education.

Willie, Charles V., Antoine M. Garibaldi, and Wornie L. Reed. The Education of African-Americans. New York: Auburn House, 1991. Extensive look at the education of African Americans since the 1940’s, from early childhood through postsecondary education. Information is given on how to develop educational strategies, evaluate current programs, and improve public policy.