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.)