Part 1: Stealing History
The white world has always tried to rob and discredit us of our history . . . Every student of history, of impartial mind, knows that the Negro once ruled the world, when white men were savages and barbarians living in caves; that thousands of Negro professors at that time taught in the universities of Alexandria, then the seat of learning; that ancient Egypt gave the world civilization and that Greece and Rome have robbed Egypt of her arts and letters, and taken all the credit upon themselves. Who and What is a Negro – Marcus Garvey (1923)
In response to several queries about Afrocentrism . . . and attempted defenses of it . . Paxety Pages has graciously allowed me the space to examine its impact on public schools, part one (the damage was primarily done in the nineties) and the supposed evidence the comprises some of its core beliefs, part two. – Mahone Dunbar, 4/17/2008
In 1989, in Dallas, Texas, a boycott was threatened of an exhibit of artifacts from the reign of Pharaoh Ramses II. A group calling itself the Blacology Speaking Committee held a news conference to declare that the 3000 year old pharaoh was a black African, and to demand that the exhibit be changed to reflect their opinion. The exhibitors wisely refused to give in to their demands. (1)
However, in 1991 The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History changed a display of Australopithecus so that its features are now black. The change of skin tone was not done in response to some new findings in anthropology, but in response to pressure from a District of Columbia organization calling itself the Tu-Wa-Moja African Study Group. Tu-Wa-Moja is Swahili for “We are one.” (2) And in 1993 the same institution bowed to political/racial pressure and removed an exhibit which dealt with the practices of secret-occult societies in Zaire, such as ritual cannibalism and orgies. Bizarre beliefs, including ritual sex, and even ritual cannibalism, are found around the world, among most races and cultures. Nonetheless, after black Americans, who have lately been trying to latch on to Africa’s acceptable traits while distancing themselves from the barbarism of the Mother Continent, vehemently protested the exhibit, it was taken down.. (3)
RACE, HISTORY, AND THE EGYPTIANS
What Australopithecus, Ramses II, and the Zaire exhibit have in common is their relation to a revisionist form of history being promulgated by black Americans calling themselves Afrocentrists. Afrocentrism is a branch of applied anthropology that attempts to place Africa at the center of world history by reinterpreting and rewriting history. As you can see from the above examples, they are getting results. The belief that the ancient Egyptians had black skin, thus the controversy over Ramses II, is a central tenet of Afrocentrism. Afrocentrism was first formulated by Senegalese scholar Cheikh Anta Diop in Civilization or Barbarism: An Authentic Anthropology. The book was an attempt to prove African culture superior to all others, in fact, the source of all civilization. This is achieved by the formulation of a syllogism, the major premise of which is that ancient Egypt was responsible for the development of all science, art, architecture and so forth. (4) The second part of the syllogism, the minor premise, is that the Egyptians were a black African race. The conclusion, therefore, is that black Africans were the germinal source of all civilization; all science, all arts, all culture, arrived in the West by way of black Africa.
The major part of the syllogistic argument, Egypt’s role in the development of culture, is hardly questionable, though the degree of influence is certainly a matter of legitimate debate. In fact, it’s hardly an original idea; a host of ancient Greek philosophers maintained that study in the temples of Egypt and Mesopotamia, or inspiration from the same, fueled their creative fires. It is the minor premise of the Afrocentric syllogism, a black pharaonic Egypt, that can be shown to fall completely short of the mark – and without Egyptian “blackness” the major proposition of Afrocentrism is without merit. (In a syllogism, the major and minor premise must both be correct for the conclusion to be valid.).
Diop argued that Imhotep, credited as the inventor of the pyramid in the 3rd millennium B.C., was black, as were Euclid, Cleopatra and a host of others. Therefore, in addition to the architectural wonders of Egypt, blacks invented such things as hieroglyphics and monumental sculpture. In Afrocentrism the Egyptians were not merely a somewhat racially mixed society, but a black African society. The last statement was based on a single comment by the wandering Greek commentator of the ancient world, Herodotus, who visited the civilization along the Nile around 500 B.C. (well after it had been subjugated by a host of other nations, including Nubia) and said the Egyptians were a black race. Then, as today, the term “black” refers to persons with a variety of skin colors, from light brown to yellowish; today it is an ethnic division more than an accurate estimation of skin pigment. The common term for a black African during the time of Herodotus was Ethiopian; tellingly, the Greek traveler didn’t say the Egyptians looked like the Ethiopians. (5) Many of the things reported by Herodotus have proven to be spurious and his single remark about the race of the Egyptians is contradicted by the whole of archaeology. As the reader proceeds, and hears more of the claims of the Afrocentrists, let him note that Herodotus didn’t describe the Egyptians as “black like we Greeks.”
The black figures that rarely appear in Egyptian art are usually in the guise of ” . . . defeated enemies, mercenary soldiers, tribute bearers, or slaves” and are clearly differentiated from the indigenous people of Egypt. ( 6) All other cultures were rendered by Egyptian artists with exactitude of racial features and dress – and clearly distinguished from the Egyptians. Afrocentrists can maintain that the Egyp0tians were black only by completely ignoring the archaeological record. The archaeological evidence must be particularly confusing for those who picketed the Ramses exhibit; Egyptian mummies, including Ramses the Great (1304-1237 B.C.) are available for all to see; their skins are now a leathery green, their features are not black-African features. Ramses has straight hair and a long aquiline nose. His portraits match the face on his mummy. Moreover, the statuary and bas-reliefs from pharaonic temples show the same graceful profiles one can find walking any street in Cairo today. DNA doesn’t lie.
Whatever consequence Herodotus’ remarks had aside, Egypt was as mythical as Valhalla to Diop, as his naive view of it in Civilization or Barbarism reflects.
“Egypt is the distant mother of Western cultures and sciences, (and) most of the ideas that we call foreign are often nothing but mixed up . . . images of the creations of our African ancestors, such as Judaism, Christianity, Islam, dialectics . . . arithmetic, geometry, mechanical engineering, astronomy, the novel, poetry, the drama, architecture and the arts.” (7) As Robert Hughes wryly points out in Culture of Complaint: The Fraying of America, Egypt would hardly be the civic ideal to base a modern African state on, since it was a theocratic slave state!
“Vote for me: I’m the Divine Incarnation of the Sun God!” Even an American politician wouldn’t be so brazen as to try and sell that to his constituency. Not one to mince words, Hughes referred to Diop as a crank.
Such hyperbole aside, the final word over the dispute about the color of Ramses II and his pharaonic brothers would seem not to lie with black Americans but with the Egyptians themselves, for though the grand culture of ancient Egypt is gone, the children of the pharaohs live on. Abdel-latif Aboul-Ela, director of the cultural office at the Egyptian Embassy in Washington, after being forced into what officials of the Egyptian Government refer to as “an American dispute,” responded to the complaints by black activists about the “Ramses the Great” exhibit in Dallas by stating “I wish people would not involve us in this kind of mess, which we have nothing to do with.” He said that the racial makeup of the pharaohs is a U.S. racial dispute. More pointedly, he declared that “we are not in any way related to the original black Africans of the Deep South.” Ramses, he maintained “was neither black nor white, but Egyptian,” and added further that the Ramses exhibit is “an Egyptian heritage, not an African heritage.” (1)
One would normally presume that such a forceful and bitter rebuttal would end the matter, but yet, the Afrocentrists persist in their claims; perhaps they cling so tenaciously to them because they realize that without a black Egypt the whole structure of Afrocentrism collapses.(8)
THE AFROCENTRIC AGENDA
The Sobol Commission
In 1989, Thomas Sobol, then New York’s commissioner of education, presided over a commission which was to decide on the expansion of school curriculum so it would take a new direction. The diversified panel of twenty-four educators included Dr. Asa Hilliard III, an educational psychologist at Georgia State University, and Nathan Glazer, a professor of education and sociology at Harvard University. The commission’s report presumes that ethnicity is the guiding force in history and is the sole means whereby one may judge or understand other cultures; further, all origins are the result of fate, therefore, where you start in life is more important than where you finish. Since all ethnic stories are about origins, all stories have equal importance; there is no objective perspective on knowledge, it is all socially constructed; a lack of detailed information about the past actually helps one understand the world and their place in it. Not surprisingly, the panel suggested that the written word is overemphasized by status quo education.(10)
With violence pandemic in the schools, and with great disparities existing in academic performance of various ethnic groups, in which direction did the Sobol Commission think public education should go to combat this? In less than lucid language the committee concluded that its primary goal was to “facilitate this difficult and ongoing process of promoting empathetic sensibility and personal awareness.”
Are the students going to be tested on their ethnic empathy? Hopefully not. Testing is hopelessly unegalitarian and thus ‘Eurocentric.’ Race or ethnicity, the Sobol commission concluded, is the key experience in life; hence, the lives and stories of ordinary people, the little guy, should suffuse curriculum. (If you thought lit 101 was dull before, imagine having to read Bantu, Pot Maker from Niger.) American schools should move into a new realm; diligence, hard work, and thus achievement, in the majority opinion of the commission, is woefully passe. Meanwhile, while American kids are being groomed to wallow in empathy with Third World Tribal citizens, the poor culturally deprived kids of Japan (perhaps the one culture the Afrocentrists haven’t claimed credit for) are stuck doing such pedestrian things as math and geography.
The Sobol Commission is not alone in espousing a new role for school curricula. Some school officials have endorsed the teaching of Afrocentrism in the hopes that it will combat student violence, high dropout rates, and the pathetic test scores of black American students. All of this, they believe, is the result of poor self-image, i.e., poor self esteem. This is the legacy of Molefi Kete Asante, chair, Department of African-American Studies, Temple University, who is regarded as the Father of Afrocentric Research. Before he bestowed upon himself the name of Molefi Kete Asante, he went by the unpretentious Eurocentric name ‘Louis Smith.’ (The changing of Euro names to Afro names has now become so common I suggest the process be called “Afro-affectation” or “Afrofectation.”) Afrocentrism, he explains, allows the black American to be at the center of his self analysis. This is only possible if they have their own cultural context, rooted firmly in Africa. To learn, black kids need lessons about a mythic Africa, taught by the only ones capable of bonding with them, teachers of their own color.
One opponent of the Afrocentrism, Diane Ravitch, formerly of Teacher’s College and one time Assistant Secretary of Education, pointed out the inherent fallacy of the idea that children can only learn from someone of their own race and that knowledge is culturally subjective; noting the example of the excellent performance of Chinese-American students in math, she noted that their success is not because of a Sino-centric approach to math, but hard work and study. Italian students, the descendants of Caesar, should, theoretically, excel at so-called Euro-centric education, yet they have the highest dropout rate of any European “white” students in the New York school system. People who point out such logic are usually branded racist and Ms. Ravitch was no exception; after her public comments she was vilified on black radio and television programs. She has also received numerous threats, including letters saying “We’re going to get you, bitch. We’re going to beat your white ass.” Dissenting points of view are not condoned by the zealots in the Afrocentric community. (11)
So there you have it: Afrocentrism is a twelve-step program for racial self-esteem; in therapy facts aren’t important, feelings are. Is the exchange of academic effort for self esteem worthwhile? In a standardized math test given to thirteen-year-olds from six countries, the U.S., Spain, Britain, Ireland, Korea and Canada, the statement “I am good at mathematics” was included and students asked to agree or disagree with it. American students rated the highest on this self esteem evaluation; a whopping 68 percent agreed with the statement. The poor Korean students, however, had the lowest self esteem; a mere 23 percent felt confident enough in their mathematical ability to agree with the statement. (12) And how did these sentiments reflect reality? The results of actual ability were inversely proportional to the student’s feelings: On the math part of the test The Korean students scored the highest of any group and the Americans the lowest. Self esteem, pumping up young egos to feel good about themselves, does nothing to bolster the students grades; if anything, it may do more harm than good. The Koreans, less confident in their innate ability, apparently studied very hard. The Americans’ over inflated sense of self worth was reflected in their poor academic performance.
Multiculturalism (the mask behind which Afrocentrism often hides) gives lip service to diversity as a tentative ideal, yet Afrocentrism allows no diversity of opinion. If you manufacture good feelings in black students by inventing historic fictions for them, so the theory goes, and reduce or eliminate the racist Western logic found in competitive test situations, the dropout rates will lessen and violent behavior will be brought under control; in short, it will be easier to warehouse students who are pacified and not stressed by competition. And this is odd, since Afrocentrism claims that all knowledge used in the West originally came from Africa. It would seem that black-Americans would have an easier time grasping Western logic. But, no. The status quo of education, comprised of a curricula developed over decades – which is the cumulative result of centuries of trial and error – and the idea of intrinsic merit and competition, has not provided equal results in terms of racial performance; therefore, because a contingent of ethnic students can’t cut it, the educational system that produced the most powerful culture in modern times and put man on the moon is to be relegated to the scrap heap of history, replaced by a cabal armed with only faddish, late twentieth-century intellectual tripe.
So far, the Afrocentric program, which originated in 1983 with the Portland Afro-American Baseline Essays, has spread to Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Detroit, Atlanta, Portland, Ore., Chicago, Newark, N.J. and Cleveland, all in the belief that teaching more about African and African-American achievements can elevate feelings of self-worth among black children. (12)
The idea that self esteem evolves from individual achievement, not what your ancestors did, seems lost on proponents of the Afrocentric agenda. How can the fact that a long dead ancestor might have built a pyramid compensate for an individual’s lack of basic preparedness to work a cash register or address customers with understandable grammar? Teaching a false history to pump up undernourished egos can also expand and burst them, particularly if racial animosity is part of the program; the message sounds familiar: you are inherently superior merely by the fact of your birth into an elite race.
“DON’T DRINK THE VOMIT”
Atlanta got a good look at the future when the Second National Conference on the infusion of African and African-American Content in the High School Curriculum was held there in November of 92. The conference was sponsored by big name commercial companies, like Gillette, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Macmillan, and Bell South. It was a pop-fest for Multicultural wannabes, who proved themselves as insular as any gathering of deadheads; between conferences they affirmed their “Africanness” by roaming the corridors of the Marriot Marquis in colorful African caftans and kufis, effecting a kind of plastic ‘Africanness’ comparable to Easterners at a dude ranch dressing in showy cowboy garb. Though dual messages of identity were given in the halls, a single message was clearly defined inside the conference rooms: ‘diversity’ is not the goal’ of Afrocentrism; the erasure of Western Culture is. (12)
The orientation began with a talk by Theophile Obenga of Marien N’Gouabi University in Gabon, who promptly informed the assembly that Greek philosophy was plagiarized from black Egypt. How was this done? Were Egyptian manuscripts comparable to but older than Euclid’s and Plato’s recently discovered, laboriously rendered in hieroglyphics? He didn’t say. Neither did Joyce King of Santa Clara University, who dispensed with the illusion of “multiculturalism” and laid the Afrocentric cards on the table. According to Ms. King, there is only one source of culture: black Africa. Greeks were called the “affirmative action kids” to the amusement and delight of the largely black audience. (9) It is hardly amusing to anyone paying attention to Afrocentrism’s audacious claims; while one side of the camp claims the Greek philosophers were thieves of black African knowledge, the other half claims the Greeks were black Africans!
The most bilious attack on the educational establishment was given by Wade Nobles, who runs a “Manhood Development and Training Program” for black males who have gotten into trouble in the regular school system. Wearing a long, lilac-blue robe and carrying a fetish with him – a small object used to ward off evil, Nobles said in no uncertain terms that blacks had to be rid of white influence. He eloquently explained that when blacks followed other people’s theories they were “like Frankenstein doing other peoples wills (sic).” It was, he continued ” . . . like someone drinking some good stuff, vomiting it, and then we have to catch the vomit and drink it ourselves. ” (12 ) In case the partisan audience missed his point he put it in more prosaic terms: ” The Greeks gave back the vomit of the African way . . . Don’t become the vomit-drinkers!” He cautioned.
“Teach brother, teach!” some enthusiastic soul cried out from the audience, obviously inspired by his subtle nuance and poetic analogies. Nobles then went on to delineate the differences between the Western way (the way of the vomit drinkers, in his lexicon) and the African way (the vomiters, we presume): The West, European culture, deals in linear polarities, needless dualities like “fact and fiction, proof and unreality, male and female.” African thinking (as if there was ever a monolithic philosophy which spanned the vast continent of Africa) rejects these and other dichotomous aspects of definition. It has a philosophy of indivisibility. In addition, African philosophy, he stated, being inherently superior to every other form, is not concerned with trivialities such as time. We don’t need the clock. We are the clock. One wonders if Nobles knows that the Egyptians invented the clepsydra, or water clock, and that they were such devotees of time that they kept and cross-referenced three calendars, a solar, lunar and Sothic, the last being adjusted over a period of fourteen hundred and sixty-one years by priest-astronomers! The Egyptians were fascinated with time.
“Teach brother, teach!” indeed. Such inanities, logic faults and factual inaccuracies, make the Afrocentric movement difficult for the satirist to improve upon.
Nobles has a big following in the Afrocentric community, and several in the audience were desirous of getting his ideas into their school systems. One questioner asked about Noble’s seeming concern for only black males. This brought a quick rebuke. She was promptly informed that the “silly sexist” stuff is the fodder of white women. Don’t be concerned. Will his agenda – teaching hieroglyphics, cleansing rituals and numerology, to ninth graders – help them get a job? Not to worry. The purpose is not educating the black man for a job, God forbid, but “. . . .educating him for eternity.”
Let’s hope they have remedial education in the afterlife.
Thomas Sobol also spoke at the conference. After giving what amounts to an apology for his sex and race – middle-aged white male, “I can’t help that,” he said – and affirming that a moderate approach to multiculturalism is best, he presented his wish that the Western tradition of democratic institutions and rule of law be maintained. This tepid plea caused some consternation among the audience and brought a reprimand from Leonard Jeffries, chair of the department of black studies at City College in New York. “Multiculturalism,” Jeffries yelled from the audience, is “mental genocide.” (12) Jeffries, except for choice in color, has a philosophy that sounds remarkably like something put forth by the Ku Klux Klan: his rhetoric is tinged with anti-semitic remarks and he believes that skin pigment, melanin in this case, helps determine humanity personality. Except for the fact that Jeffries thinks the darker the skin pigment the better, he would be right at home with Bubba and the good ole’ boys.
Finally, the audience recited a pledge that began “We, the African community, in the hells of North America . . . ” Apparently the satiated middle class crowd, decked out in costumes that probably cost enough to keep a real African family in yams for a year, see hell as a pretty mild place. The rhetoric was gone over again, Egypt was black, Greek philosophy is vomit, stolen heritage and so forth. Then, something else. Henrik Clarke, professor emeritus at Hunter College in New York, suggested that no black American should soil herself with Christianity. All major religions of the world are “male chauvinist murder cults.” Evidently Clarke doesn’t agree with the Afrocentric teaching that Jesus was black. Or maybe myth can change to suit personal whims.
No mistake should be made; Nobles, Clarke and Jeffries are not the exceptions, but the rule. Afrocentrists don’t seek parity with the old order; their goal is to efface, erase and replace. No compromise is intended.
* * *
Houston Baker Jr. is a specialist in Afro-American literature, and Albert M. Greenfield, is Professor of Human Relations at the University of Pennsylvania; both maintain that there is no need to mourn the death of the “old order” of literacy. If only students can be freed from Western civilization and its “whitemale” core reading canon, then “the powerful, syncretic, corporally minimalistic urgings of African American rap music signal this ‘defense legitime’ of a new humanity and a new humanities that will outlast the ‘crisis’ and create new room for the new people.” (9 ) Baker is vicious and extravagant in his denunciation of the core reading list, likening it to the core of a nuclear reactor.
To Baker, one commentator remarked, it is as if literacy were the problem with education. Baker is the incoming president of the Modern Language Association.
There was one very vocal dissenter on the Sobol Commission: Historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., an academician of no small standing who opposes their excesses with a loud and logical voice. Prof. Schlesinger doesn’t object at all to the idea of multicultural teachings, no scholar would. His objection is the replacement of factual teachings about history with an agenda which de emphasizes objective or critical distance and emphasizes ethnic subjectivity as the guiding perspective. Schlesinger’s primary criticism is that Afrocentrism is a cultural phenomena, not an educational one. Many Afrocentric postulates are not the result of archaeology, philology, and the regular tools of scholarly necromancy, but of speculations gleaned from the viscera of fantasy. It is a world where black pharaohs fly the cloudless skies of Egypt in glider planes, a world of black conquest and domination; in short, a world of myth. This is not surprising, Schlesinger notes, since the academic credentials of many Afrocentric apostles are not in fields applicable to such studies. Both its findings and the scholarship of some of its strongest proponents are suspect in the academic community, a silent community except for those like historian Schlesinger and Henry Louis Gates Jr., chair of Afro-American Studies at Harvard University, who view Afrocentrism as a threat to the true study of black history. Gates says, “For our field to survive, we need to encourage a true proliferation of rigorous methodologies, rather than to seek ideological conformity.” ( ) 11 He warns that as things are going now there is a real danger that critical inquiry is being suppressed by ethnic fundamentalism. “Bogus theories of “sun” and “ice” people, and the invidious scapegoating of other ethnic groups, only resurrects the worst of 19th-century racist pseudoscience–which too many of the pharaohs of “Afrocentrism” have accepted without realizing.” (9)
Claims of non-objectivity and poor scholarship from critics like Schlesinger, Gates and Haley don’t phase the Afrocentrists. What is important is not criticism from savants with expertise in the very fields under dispute, but the agenda; if you disagree with them, in fact question them at all, beware. John Henrik Clarke, professor emeritus of African history at Hunter College, City University of New York, and Afrocentrist, said that much of the disagreement about Afrocentrism “stems from whites wanting to dominate the world and control image; further that they have to admit that the foundations of what (is called) Western civilization was laid by non-Europeans. When they say whites brought forth world civilization they are a bunch of fakers and liars.”
Schlesinger points out in The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society that Afrocentrism leads to “fragmentation, segregation and tribalization.” Black Americans are invited “to withdraw from American society in favor of a fictitious connection with a mythic Africa.”
When Schlesinger proclaims that moving public education in the direction of Afrocentrism will only lead to , the fragmentation, resegregation, and self ghettoization of American life, he is a voice crying in the wilderness. Schlesinger says that the bonds of national cohesion in the republic are sufficiently fragile already and that public education should try strengthen those bonds, not weaken them. And though Americans should be free to cultivate ancestral customs and traditions, the function of the public school system is surely to teach what holds Americans together as well as to teach what sets them apart. “The alternative to integration is disintegration.” (4)
Some black academics are equally outspoken but refrain from public debate due to the very real fear that they will suffer vilification by their ethnic peers; as well, harassment by the administration is a possibility in some academic circles. One anonymous black professor, who describes himself as a leftist, was quoted as saying that the true appeal of presenting the mythic version of African history is because “its easier for the faculty to level down by arguing that everything in the curriculum is just ideology than it is to pile on the work that’s required, because deep in their hearts many of the ideologues don’t believe that these minority kids can cut it.” If you try to address the issue of Afrocentric curriculum by argument, the old academic way . . . you face charges of racism.” (8)< There is no argument that the “Afrocentric ideology” is weeding its way through both primary and secondary education. The debate is over its worth, its excesses, its ultimate meaning for society. The proponents are on a quest for the Holy Grail of sociology: giving a new purpose to education: leveling the Karma of racial disparity in education by magic agenda. The mundane imparting of education is a poor second to such a holy quest.
The old core curriculum, composed of DWEMs (Dead White European Males), somehow sufficed to provide America with captains of the industrialized world, government leaders, academia that drew students from around the world, and scientists and engineers who presided as America became a world power. But all don’t see it that way. One student leader at Sanford, where the current furor over the curriculum began, stated that the implicit message of Western culture is ‘Nigger Go Home.’ This is the message of Plato, Aristotle, Augustine and Shakespeare? In actual fact the nightmare core curriculum of DWEMs doesn’t exist anymore. (9 )
At any rate, other black scholars, some patriarchs of black American thought, don’t agree. For them the quality and meaning of literature is reflective, giving back what effort you put into it. The best minds in black culture, Arthur Schlesinger Jr. has noted, didn’t reject the wisdom of literature simply because some of its authors were white. W.E.B. Du Bois said: “I sit with Shakespeare and he winces not. Across the color line I move arm in arm with Balzac and Dumas . . . I summon Aristotle and Aurelius and what soul I will, and they come all graciously with no scorn or condescension. So, wed with Truth, I dwell above the veil.”25
Frederick Douglas was even move specific, finding meaning applicable to the situation of American blacks in the writings of Dead White Males: “What I got from Sheridan was a bold denunciation of slavery and a powerful vindication of human rights.” (13) Martin Luther King’s sources of inspiration were not from the Africa tradition, but people like Thoreau, Gandhi, and Reinhold Niebuhr. Schlesinger wryly notes that even though King’s role models weren’t from the African tradition, this didn’t seem to affect King’s self-esteem. (ibid)
The Afrocentrist seems blissfully unaware that knowledge is the bride of those who court her. Education is not a free gift, nor is it magically acquired because a student shares the race of the teacher; it is a hard won victory and belongs only to those who have made the immense effort required for conquest.
What has the institution of Afrocentric curricula led to in higher education? One wonders if Gerald Early’s experiences are unique. Mr. Early is director of African and Afro-American Studies at Washington University, in St. Louis and also an author. “Never have I been subjected to more anti-intellectual, proto-fascistic nonsense than what I have had to endure in the name of Afrocentrism. (14) He ascribes Afrocentrism’s foundation to Malcolm X, calling him the father of Afrocentrism. (N.B. There are several people who are given the dubious honor of Afrocentrism’s paternity, Asante, Diop, and Malcolm among them.) His lack of enthusiasm for Afrocentrism led to his being denounced and publicly scorned as not being ‘Afrocentric enough’ to head the department, a charge he likens to not being “black enough” in the sixties. He further laments, “I do not possess any of the “social tokens” often associated with being “insufficiently black”: I do not have a white wife: I have served on most of the university’s affirmative-action committees; I am intellectually engaged in the study of black subject matter; I have never publicly criticized any black person connected with the campus during my entire ten-year stay. (Ibid)
Early concludes that Malcolm’s vision of Afrocentrism, his new double identity for black Americans, is not based on reality, rather it is a remaking of the past, the seduction of mythic, and thus fraudulent, identities. At Harvard, in 1964, Malcolm said that blacks in America are not really Americans but are Africans, and just as much African today as they were four hundred years ago. Early believes this definition to be specious, as well as restrictive to the individual. His assessment of Malcolm’s Afrocentric philosophy, which shows that it compares in all essentials with the views espoused by the current and more active bach of Afrocentrists, exposes its tragic flaws:
“By preaching a romantic reunification with mythological Africa as a way of generating pride and racial unity, Malcolm advocated a single identity for all black people, one that implicitly removed individual distinctions among blacks. In Malcolm’s view, individually is a negligible European creation, while the holy “community”–a creation of the African and other dark-skinned peoples–is prized above everything else.” (Ibid)
Such political and cultural mandates as Malcolm endorsed are of course restrictive to the individual; it is not the state, nor a body politic, but an ethnic god to whom he swears allegiance. The individual is expected to sacrifice his uniqueness to the greater good of the collective. This, he says, demands a stifling conformity. The Afrocentric aspects of Malcolm’s philosophy, the “all-blackness” that some today perceive as his message, are uninformed and restrictive instead of enlightening and liberating.10 Malcolm’s message was to express an “Africanness” at the expense of “Americanness;” an embrace of myth and a rejection of the historic process, a rejection of the roots blacks have in the New World. This only intensifies the negative feelings of blacks. Malcolm’s failure was not acknowledging the black sinew beneath American flesh nor the black blood that flows through her veins.
Early expresses this sentiment beautifully: “Our profound past of being African, which we must never forget, must be balanced by the complex fate of being American, which we can never deny or, worse, evade. For we must accept who and what we are and the forces and conditions that have made us this, not as defeat or triumph, not in shame or with grandiose pride, but as the tangled, strange, yet poignant and immeasurable record of an imperishable human presence. (ibid)
1. “Color Ramses Egyptian, Says Cultural Official,” AP/The Atlanta Constitution, 3/18/ 1989
2. Jerry Adler, Howard Manly, Vern E. Smith, Farai Chideya and Larry Wilson, “African Dreams,” Newsweek, Sept. 23, 1991
3.Mike Christensen, “Smithsonian removes ‘offensive’ African exhibit,” Atlanta Constitution, 9/16/93.
4. Barbara Kantrowitz, Pat Wingert, Patrick Rogers, Nadine Joseph and Shawn D. Lewis, “A Is for Ashanti, B Is for Black . . . ,” Newsweek, September 23, 1991.
5. Mary Lefkowitz, “Not Out of Africa,” The New Republic, February 10, 1992.
6. Nicholas Davidson, “Was Socrates a Plagiarist?,” National Review, February 25, 1991.
7. Robert Hughes, Culture of Complaint, Oxford University Press, 1993.
8. Sharon Begley, Farai Chideya and Larry Wilson, “Out of Egypt, Greece,” Newsweek, September 23, 1991.
9. Fred Siegel, “The Cult of Multiculturalism,” The New Republic, February 15, 1991.
10. “Mr. Sobol’s Planet,” The New Republic, July 15 & 22, 1991.
11. Charles Krauthammer, “Education: Doing Bad and Feeling Good,” Time February 5, 1990
12. Andrew Sullivan, “Racism 101,” The New Republic, November 26, 1990.
13. Fredric Smoler, “What Should We Teach Our Children About American History?,” Interview with Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., American Heritage Magazine, 1992.
14. Gerald Early, “Their Malcolm, My Problem,” Harper’s Magazine, December 1992.
Welcome visitors from democraticunderground.com. You may think we are filled with hate, but we don’t hate you.
how bout a major premis we gone cap yo cracker ass
Pilgrim, the most sand I’ve seen was when we were filming The Sands of Iwo Jima, but I think I know more about Egypt than these morons. By God American values is what they need to be teaching.
feeing inferior white boy?
Duke: you probably do know more about Egypt — the real Egypt — than the average Afrocentrist. They can only reach such conclusions by being illiterate, and perhaps blind. It’s hard to subscribe such profound error to stupidity alone.
japapapparappa (whatever): Feeling inferior? Anytime I do I just pick out some afrocentric writing and read it. Afterwards, I fell like a genius.
Ubantu Bob: Wisely said. And exactly the wisdom one would expect from Sub-Saharan Africa.
And remember: It Takes A Village To Eat A Missionary.
(btw, historical note: calling white people cracker came from the old African habit of adding “crackers” to missionary soup. Eventually, the concept of ‘cracker’ and ‘Caucasian’ fused together.).
“It Takes A Village To Eat A Missionary” BAWAHAHAHA but they don’t eat the, you know, things? Things go better with coke…of course in the projects there be a lot of coke…
Great stuff Mahone..where do you teach? I want to send my grandkids…
GUYK: stay tuned for part two: Afrocentrism: the Evidence?
BTW: I teach at the College Of Forbidden Knowledge
Re your comment on coke, I give you this from Mahone’s Dictionary of Political Incorrectness.
Black Culture: Rap, basket ball, and innovative uses of the coca plant.
(Ok, Black America, where’s your sense of humor?)
U repukes are truly desperate. You resort to racist tripe as a defense against ur fears. I see u never offer proof that Brother Garvey is wrong in any of his statements. In fact, I would think a racist like u would be in favor of his “Back to Africa” movement in a literal sense.
Dammit, Mahone, you’ve upset my brother. He despises afrocentrism. It teaches that the black man has done absolutely nothing since Egypt. It disses the significant contributions of African-Americans such as Quincy Jones, Latoya, Janet, Randy and my brother.
when one posits a radical theory — such as, Jesus was black, Egyptians were black, black Egyptians had wings, etc. ad infinitum — the obligation is on the person making the statements to support them with evidence. And, as the saying goes, extraordinary claims need support in the form of extraordinary evidence. That said, in part Two of Afrocentrism I address the major claims one by one. And the refutations I present (since you obviously didn’t note nor credit the statements by modern Egyptian authorities that afrocentrism is a fantasy of black Americans) are from the ancient Egyptians themselves. Say, did you know that George Washington and the founding fathers were all black? Well, there were black freedmen and black slaves in America at the time, so, by afrocentric inference, Paine, Jefferson, Washington, Adams, etc. al. must have been black.
Abu Tito: I think your brother is right, sort of. By the Afrocentric fools trying to steal a culture, they cast a negative light on true black achievements, which are many. The Egyptians weren’t white either. I am an actual multiculturalist, that is, I’ve studied and appreciated many cultures that have existed throughout history. My axe-to-grind isn’t so much against the foolish Afrocentrists (I figure they can’t actually believe half the bullshit they say, but do it just to upset whitey), but the liberals who suffuse academia and let them spout this nonsense simply because they wet their panties at the thought of having to oppose black people in anything (“My, God! They might picket the administration. Or call me a racist!”) That’s the real shame of it.
I guess that many of the people I think of as black are not really black – because they have straight hair or aquiline noses. I guess none of my Ethiopian friends are not really black, nor any of my Nigerian relatives who also have similar features as well as light skin. I also guess that black people never travelled around the continent of Africa and therefore genetics from the West or North or South or East of the conotinent could not have mixed (even though they managed to populate the whole world). Where are the people arguing that Barack is not black. He is simply Barack. Silly to me too that a biracial man would be considered black, but even more ridiculous to think that an ancient people on the continenent of Africa who regularly painted themselves in brown hues darker than Obama, Powell and Lena Horne combined would not be. This was before Europeans had the means to travel the world and implant themselves as colonialists. Your belief in black African inferiority suspends your belief that they could have contributed anything of value to Western Culture besides music. That’s your psychological problem – your disease. Appropriate education of my children will help to innoculate them from the mental illness of this great nation. And there is nothing you can do about it no matter what the public curriculum is, each parent can teach their child the truth and take them to the Mother Land to see the truth with their own eyes.
The Ancient Egyptians were not white or black – they were Egyptians. However, a half black child in America is always considered black.
Amy: On the subject of “Who is black,” you are preaching to choir. By your standards, anyone who has a tan and is not a red-headed Caucasian is black. Did I say anywhere that “indigenous sub-Saharans” didn’t interbreed with others? if so, I missed that. However, you seem to miss the central polemic presented here, which is a refutation of the provably erroneous contention that the Ancient Egyptians were a black race (as the sub-Saharan Africans are). You say later that the Egyptians were Egyptian, and this is the same thing I’m saying; essentially, the genetic population of Egypt is a Mediterranean one. And as with the ancient Egyptians, the modern Egyptians don’t consider themselves black. You also get into the features, lighter skin, straight hair, aquiline noses, etc. of the various African populations. I definitely agree that within the “black” population of Africa there many genetic pools, as they are among Caucasians, Orientals and so on. However, I’m sure an African from the Congo, who is the result of pure breeding for hundreds of generations, is distinguishable from the average Chinese, as the average Indian (black skin, straight hair, and so on) is from a Polynesian. Personally, I have never disliked someone because of their skin color. I do dislike people because of their lack of unacceptable cultural attributes — such as rape, drive by shootings, burglary, violent gang activity, laziness, and so on — as I’m sure you, or any reasonable person does — and I dislike people who lie and distort the history of the Egyptians, a culture I’ve admired and been fascinated with for years — even though they are not ‘white.”
As far as Barack goes, he chooses to define himself as black, and has chosen to state that he doesn’t like white people in is biography. Of course, in America these days, black people are allowed a great degree of latitude when it comes to expressing racial bigotry against other races. If this is silly, you need to ask Barack about that, not rail at me about it. The Egyptians, unfortunately for those like yourself who have never bothered to study the evidence, carefully distinguished themselves from Nubians, Ethiopians and other elements of Black Africa. The Egyptians were racists in the classical fashion, that is, they believed their race to be superior to all others and that they had a divine mandate to rule the inferior races.
BTW, the first colonists in Africa where not European. Nor did Europeans start the African slave trade. If you believe this, then you walk in ignorance — probably due to your racial animosity — that is dark indeed. As for me, when it comes to history, I’d rather have an inconvenient truth than a lie woven of the myths of a people who so disparage their true origins that they are attempting to steal the culture of another people.
I would suggest that you calm down, put your racial prejudices aside for a moment, if possible, and re-read the actual evidence. If you don’t want to read it again, just look at the pictures. Further, I hope and pray you don’t teach your children — whether they be Black, White, Oriental, Polynesian, Hispanic or bi-racial — with nonsensical fairy tales.
I do not discredit the contributions of Black people in this world. If you take your racial blinders off, you’d see that I am simply presenting research to counter the ‘Afrocentic” lies that are being forced on our current generation of children. Because I’m white, and disagree with the theories of some blacks, does not make me a racist . . . no matter how much you’d like to believe otherwise. And I would agree that you should take your children to the ‘motherland’, the REAL Africa of STDs, AIDs, violence, political tyranny and incessant warfare. That will probably make them proud to be born in America and give them an education in truth which a thousand Rev. Wrights can not provide.
Blacks are in denial- all of their answers lie in Sub-Saharan Africa, that is, in its savagery and in its dearth of civilization, culture, architecture, language, literature etc. Black should embrace their negritude and leave the Mediterranean and Arab worlds alone.
Br. As you can see from Amy’s comments, the way for Black Americans to avoid the evidence and still embrace the Egyptians is to spread the meaning of “black” African. The equivalent in modern education is the attempt to increase scores by “spreading” the answers in subjects like math, i.e., where the acceptable answersfor 5 + 5, for example, is not just 10, but 9, 11, and so on . . . anywhere near the correct answer. Leftists are always trying to change the rules after the final bell (the 2000 Presidential election), and particularly in Global Warming, where increased temperatures were the proof at first, then, when that was shown to be false, they spread their claim to drops in temperature as proof. It’s hard enough to convince people of historic reality when they don’t know the rules of logic . . . it’s damn near impossible when they insist on changing the rules as they go.
thanks for the blog, very interesting prespective, i still think b is a soft tyranny tho
Soft tyranny? Please explain what that is and what represnts it.
The late Dr. Asa G. Hilliard spoke of mental illness as a disease.
He gave it the following symptoms
Perceptual distortion. (Saying red is blue for example)
Denial of reality (the world is flat)
Delusions of grandeur ( we are the master race!!! for example)
Xenophobia (I don’t like them the look different from me)
Western Civilization and Eurocentric’s in particular have fabricated histories and “discoveries” that were clearly not correct. This house of cards is being deconstructed by SCIENCE and even by the reading of ORIGINAL text.
Read the Book of Ptahotep. It contains maxims that speak directly to speaking truth to power.
Williams, Frank L’Engle Williams, Robert L. Belcher and George J. Armelagos Forensic Misclassification of Ancient Nubian Crania: Implications for Assumptions about Human Variation. Current Anthropology. 46 (2): 340-347.
Dr. Hilliard’s goal in life was not academic purity, but to boost the ego of black males, thereby increasing their sense of self esteem. Due to this overwhelming prejudice on his part, he became a “keyhole” theorist, as the body of his work aptly demonstrates.
As far as his symptoms for mental illness, let’s just examine them:
Perceptual distortion: I agree. A prime example would be seeing painted statuary, drawings, etc., of ancient Egyptians and maintaining — in the face of this a priori evidence to the opposite — that they were the same race as indigenous sub-Saharans. Their writings, as well as their art, clearly and unequivablely shows that they were as different from black Africans as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were from Eskimos.
Denial of reality: for example, refusing to acknowledge that the sub-Saharan race has not demonstrated the cultural, artistic, architectural, scientific or philosophic excellence of other ancient cultures (a task made particularly difficult by the lack of written languages).
Delusions of grandeur fairly well speaks for itself here; the fictionalization of history to make an artificial place for ISS Africans by stealing the culture of the ancient Egyptians, claiming credit for the achievements of the Greeks, and so on and so forth aptly demonstrates where the delusions of grandeur are.
Xenophobia: you mentioned looking at original Egyptian documents (I’ve a personal library of some forty or more books on Egypt, including lexicons, standard histories and more revisionist theories), so I’d suggest you examine the original writings yourself; you will find that the Egyptians were to a degree, at points in their history, xenophobes and racists, as they considered themselves superior to indigenous sub-Saharans, Greeks, Persians, and Hebrews. Like the Hebrews, and most other ancient civilizations, they considered themselves the elect of God, and all that implied with reguard to their view of their lest fortunate neighbors.
You might also add ‘overwhelming paranoia to that list: as in claiming that Napoleon’s army shot the nose of the Sphinx to disguise the fact that it was “Negro,” or denying that the Egyptians enslaved and otherwise subjugated (they stole lot’s of Nubian gold) black Africans for most of their history (this changed in the New Kingdom with the ascent of a “black” king from Nubia to the Egyptian throne, where he and two of his sons held sway for a number of years.)
Surely you are correct in stating that some historians have been wrong about particular aspects of history; As a student of history, I find that undeniable since any science, be it quantum physics, astro physics, paleontology or anthropology, is usually in a state of flux as we seek to refine our knowledge (and also as political attitudes change what is remembered and how it is remembered); however, jumping in with Afrocentrism and it’s black Egyptian bird people flying about the pyramids, not to mention millennially long racial conspiracies, is hardly an improvement — at least to a someone with a semblance of a rational mind, that is, one so encumbered by racial or cultural hatred that he can’t admit the truth. I know you find it impossible to believe, given the massive chip on your shoulder, but I’ve great respect for the “real” achievements of black people. However a bitter pill it is for you to swallow, you have to face it: theancient Egyptians were not black.
I was a friend and a student of Dr. Hilliard, Mahone knows nothing about Dr. Hilliard pedagogical path. Kemet is in Africa this is a geographic fact. Race is a social construction. All human are derived from an African gene pool. You lack of understanding supports your ethnocentric agenda. All Africans are not dark-skinned and all Europeans are not pale. Nordic folk are generally less tan then Sicilians or Spaniards. Your level of deliberate misinformation testifies to your ethnocentric bias. It is a fact that the ancient populations of the Nile Valley depicted themselves in all available shades. The Dark-red the Chocolate Brown the yellow and even very light shades used to depict the Hane bu (People at the back of my head). The words for direction would be helpful to you at this stage. Left and their word for east was the same. Right and their (the Egyptians) was their word for west. Last but not least the word for face and the word for south was the same. Sir you cannot walk in the shadow of most of these AFRICAN CENTERED Scholars. We are not Afrocentrics ” We are AFRICAN CENTERED we do not hyphenate Africa. Your need for an identity in antiquity beyond Greece and Rome forces to linger in a non European gene pool.
You linger in populations that your most bias predecessor declared were none white/Eurpean.Dr. John Henrik Clarke another mentor of mine said “Why is it that the last people in the world to read and create civilization wish to declare themselves to be the first. You have identified yourself and others like you with the class of individuals that call Africans and Arabs and other people of color “dune coons and sand Niggers”. The clock of white supremist thought has been removed from you. THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES ON. YOUR “RACE BASED” commentary is a Jedi mind trick it will not work with us any longer.
Robert Belcher M.A. Anthropologist
p.s. you need to read the American Anthropological Associations statement on race. Like it or not we are one species Homo Sapien Sapien.
NO WEAPON FORMED AGAINST US SHALL PROSPER WE ARE ANCHORED IN MAAT
Time is up let truth rule forever!
I’ve approved Mr. Belcher’s comments, though for one who touts his advanced degree, one one think he would handle subject/verb agreement better, understand past tense, and understand that all sentences need subjects. Is he as careless with his research as he is with English?
Robert Belcher wrote: I was a friend and a student of Dr. Hilliard, Mahone knows nothing about Dr. Hilliard pedagogical path.
Mahone replied: All I know about Dr. Hilliard is what is on the public record. Intellectual honesty demands that I admit to the fact that he and I never sat down and had a beer together.
Kemet is in Africa . . . a geographic fact.” (And the Amazon River is in South America: This is a geographic FACT!). Have I stated otherwise? Per chance are you trying to set up a “straw man?” i.e., attribute statements or ideas to me that I never said nor implied, and then knock them down as if that somehow refutes my initial position.
RB: Race is a social construction. All human are derived from an African gene pool. You lack of understanding supports your ethnocentric agenda.
M. Race is a social construction? This is a dangerous path you tread – trying to homogenize all races living in Africa into the indigenous sub-Saharan variety, thereby vicariously smearing the glory of the Egyptian civilization onto the ISSs. Would you also expand that brotherly philosophy to the Afrikaners? I thought not. There is no such thing as race? I hardly know where to begin on that one. Just because there is no absolute exactitude of definition, about what race is, sex is, art, justice, or anything else is, does not mean it doesn’t exist. And for the record, my agenda is to try to establish historic truth.
RB: All Africans are not dark-skinned and all Europeans are not pale. Nordic folk are generally less tan then Sicilians or Spaniards. Your level of deliberate misinformation testifies to your ethnocentric bias. It is a fact that the ancient populations of the Nile Valley depicted themselves in all available shades.
M. People come in all shades. Got it. Again, you state an obvious fact, and then present it as if refuting a position I never stated. You have yet to state any instance where I gave misinformation, or any example of ethnocentric bias on my part – by the way, you are exploding with “ethnocentric bias.” You say the ancient populations of the Nile Valley depicted themselves in all available shades (I note you didn’t say Egyptians here): The Egyptians, in paintings and in painted statuary, carefully delineated their difference from the populations of black Africans, who were portrayed as black skinned, wide-nosed, with characteristic kinky hair, bubble butts, etc. If you are not knowledgeable of these distinctions in Egyptian art, you are either woefully uninformed or blinded by your own ethnocentric bias. Sadly, your racial (or ethnocentric, if you prefer) self-esteem is so lacking that you feel impelled to sack the glory of ancient Egypt in an attempt to fortify your flagging ego.
RB: You have identified yourself and others like you with the class of individuals that call Africans and Arabs and other people of color “dune coons and sand Niggers”. The clock of white supremist thought has been removed from you. THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES ON. YOUR “RACE BASED” commentary is a Jedi mind trick it will not work with us any longer.
M. Jedi mind trick? Nice that a supposed academic would rely on a work of fiction to express his thoughts. I would have thought a lettered academic mentored by prestigious professors might refer to something like the Gnostic Archons to get a similar point across. Again, you persist in trying to force your prejudice against Caucasians on me by trying to attribute philosophical positions to me that I don’t ascribe to. To wit: I fully recognize and endorse the idea that the historic progenitors of what is known today as “Western Civilization” were Greeks, Egyptians and others – but not indigenous sub-Saharan Africans! (Who, by the way, were not a literate population until modern times). Hell, Barack Obama’s brother in Africa still lives in a one room shack with no power, no indoor plumbing and no running water. And if you want to hear the word ‘nigger,’ just park your dumb ass on any corner in downtown Detroit, or Atlanta, or LA for a minute or two. The urban males promiscuously using this word are from the same group that kills black Americans at an astonishing rate – shooting from the hip, I’d say that there are probably more black on black homicides in any given month in one of these cities than all of the racial lynchings in American history. Face it and get over your own bias: black people are their own worst enemy. You will forever be bogged in the mire of ignorance as long as you persist in trying to scapegoat Caucasians.
In summation. Just for your amusement, one of the profound influences on my view of anthropological development is Jeffrey Goodman, PH.D (author of The Genesis Mystery). Professor Goodman is a black American who relies on his own merits for self-esteem, not a fictional Hilliard history of Africa. You might find a measure of psychological adjustment if you throw off the yoke of racial animus that so obviously weights you down — like the idea that someone who disagrees with crack-based Afrocentric theories on Egypt is automatically a “white supremist.”
My degrees and my command of the English language is not as important as the Data. I rushed but that is no excuse. The focus should be on the facts and the bias of Eurocentrics. Trust that when I am not busy instructing my college students and dealing with Anglo Saxon prejudice I do very well.
I would like to remind you that language is a dynamic system some changes are used as intensifiers.
Have a blessed day. Thanks for the lesson in standardized testing.
Again, I’ve approved this interesting comment.
degrees + command = plural subjects, so they should take a plural verb, not the singular “is.” If you are indeed an instructor at a college, you should know better. Again, your failures in basic English call raise questions about the carefulness of your research, and thus, your Data (sic.)
Yo, professor, wut’s up, G? To say that language is dynamic and changing is to state an obvious truth; But to use that axiom to try and guise over one’s bad grammar (particularly after you stated that you were not making excuses for said errors), is hypocritical in the extreme.
Oh,embarrassingly, I must point out that in your mea culpa for bad grammar you erred again. To wit: you used the wrong number verb for your compound subject. Don’t feel bad: This is a common mistake for junior high school students, i.e., making the verb agree with the object of the preposition (language) instead of the compound subject (degrees and command). Maybe if you spent less time sitting around in your matching kente cloth Kufi and Dashiki, beneath your mantle filled with mahogany figurines from Africa, playing your conga and damning white people and a little more time reviewing the academic basics of communication, you wouldn’t be so laughable.
The fact that your harp on the bias of Europeans while, predictably, failing to acknowledge Afrocentric bias testifies to your ineffable intellectual short-sightedness.
“Have a blessed day.” Are you kidding? Wouldn’t Allah Akbar be more in line with your thinking?
And have a nice day yourself, you posturing, bigoted mutherfucker (see, I used an “intensifier
Given your attempt Mr. Mahone to tell me about a field that I have three degrees in I would suggest you read the AAA doc on “Race” By the way I have publications too. Please correct my English for me if you feel the need.
American Anthropological Association
Statement on “Race”
(May 17, 1998)
The following statement was adopted by the Executive Board of the American Anthropological Association, acting on a draft prepared by a committee of representative American anthropologists. It does not reflect a consensus of all members of the AAA, as individuals vary in their approaches to the study of “race.” We believe that it represents generally the contemporary thinking and scholarly positions of a majority of anthropologists.
In the United States both scholars and the general public have been conditioned to viewing human races as natural and separate divisions within the human species based on visible physical differences. With the vast expansion of scientific knowledge in this century, however, it has become clear that human populations are not unambiguous, clearly demarcated, biologically distinct groups. Evidence from the analysis of genetics (e.g., DNA) indicates that most physical variation, about 94%, lies within so-called racial groups. Conventional geographic “racial” groupings differ from one another only in about 6% of their genes. This means that there is greater variation within “racial” groups than between them. In neighboring populations there is much overlapping of genes and their phenotypic (physical) expressions. Throughout history whenever different groups have come into contact, they have interbred. The continued sharing of genetic materials has maintained all of humankind as a single species.
Physical variations in any given trait tend to occur gradually rather than abruptly over geographic areas. And because physical traits are inherited independently of one another, knowing the range of one trait does not predict the presence of others. For example, skin color varies largely from light in the temperate areas in the north to dark in the tropical areas in the south; its intensity is not related to nose shape or hair texture. Dark skin may be associated with frizzy or kinky hair or curly or wavy or straight hair, all of which are found among different indigenous peoples in tropical regions. These facts render any attempt to establish lines of division among biological populations both arbitrary and subjective.
Historical research has shown that the idea of “race” has always carried more meanings than mere physical differences; indeed, physical variations in the human species have no meaning except the social ones that humans put on them. Today scholars in many fields argue that “race” as it is understood in the United States of America was a social mechanism invented during the 18th century to refer to those populations brought together in colonial America: the English and other European settlers, the conquered Indian peoples, and those peoples of Africa brought in to provide slave labor.
From its inception, this modern concept of “race” was modeled after an ancient theorem of the Great Chain of Being, which posited natural categories on a hierarchy established by God or nature. Thus “race” was a mode of classification linked specifically to peoples in the colonial situation. It subsumed a growing ideology of inequality devised to rationalize European attitudes and treatment of the conquered and enslaved peoples. Proponents of slavery in particular during the 19th century used “race” to justify the retention of slavery. The ideology magnified the differences among Europeans, Africans, and Indians, established a rigid hierarchy of socially exclusive categories underscored and bolstered unequal rank and status differences, and provided the rationalization that the inequality was natural or God-given. The different physical traits of African-Americans and Indians became markers or symbols of their status differences.
As they were constructing US society, leaders among European-Americans fabricated the cultural/behavioral characteristics associated with each “race,” linking superior traits with Europeans and negative and inferior ones to blacks and Indians. Numerous arbitrary and fictitious beliefs about the different peoples were institutionalized and deeply embedded in American thought.
Early in the 19th century the growing fields of science began to reflect the public consciousness about human differences. Differences among the “racial” categories were projected to their greatest extreme when the argument was posed that Africans, Indians, and Europeans were separate species, with Africans the least human and closer taxonomically to apes.
Ultimately “race” as an ideology about human differences was subsequently spread to other areas of the world. It became a strategy for dividing, ranking, and controlling colonized people used by colonial powers everywhere. But it was not limited to the colonial situation. In the latter part of the 19th century it was employed by Europeans to rank one another and to justify social, economic, and political inequalities among their peoples. During World War II, the Nazis under Adolf Hitler enjoined the expanded ideology of “race” and “racial” differences and took them to a logical end: the extermination of 11 million people of “inferior races” (e.g., Jews, Gypsies, Africans, homosexuals, and so forth) and other unspeakable brutalities of the Holocaust.
“Race” thus evolved as a worldview, a body of prejudgments that distorts our ideas about human differences and group behavior. Racial beliefs constitute myths about the diversity in the human species and about the abilities and behavior of people homogenized into “racial” categories. The myths fused behavior and physical features together in the public mind, impeding our comprehension of both biological variations and cultural behavior, implying that both are genetically determined. Racial myths bear no relationship to the reality of human capabilities or behavior. Scientists today find that reliance on such folk beliefs about human differences in research has led to countless errors.
At the end of the 20th century, we now understand that human cultural behavior is learned, conditioned into infants beginning at birth, and always subject to modification. No human is born with a built-in culture or language. Our temperaments, dispositions, and personalities, regardless of genetic propensities, are developed within sets of meanings and values that we call “culture.” Studies of infant and early childhood learning and behavior attest to the reality of our cultures in forming who we are.
It is a basic tenet of anthropological knowledge that all normal human beings have the capacity to learn any cultural behavior. The American experience with immigrants from hundreds of different language and cultural backgrounds who have acquired some version of American culture traits and behavior is the clearest evidence of this fact. Moreover, people of all physical variations have learned different cultural behaviors and continue to do so as modern transportation moves millions of immigrants around the world.
How people have been accepted and treated within the context of a given society or culture has a direct impact on how they perform in that society. The “racial” worldview was invented to assign some groups to perpetual low status, while others were permitted access to privilege, power, and wealth. The tragedy in the United States has been that the policies and practices stemming from this worldview succeeded all too well in constructing unequal populations among Europeans, Native Americans, and peoples of African descent. Given what we know about the capacity of normal humans to achieve and function within any culture, we conclude that present-day inequalities between so-called “racial” groups are not consequences of their biological inheritance but products of historical and contemporary social, economic, educational, and political circumstances.
[Note: For further information on human biological variations, see the statement prepared and issued by the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, 1996 (AJPA 101:569-570).]
AAA Position Paper on “Race”: Comments?
As a result of public confusion about the meaning of “race,” claims as to major biological differences among “races” continue to be advanced. Stemming from past AAA actions designed to address public misconceptions on race and intelligence, the need was apparent for a clear AAA statement on the biology and politics of race that would be educational and informational. Rather than wait for each spurious claim to be raised, the AAA Executive Board determined that the Association should prepare a statement for approval by the Association and elicit member input.
Commissioned by the Executive Board of the American Anthropological Association, a position paper on race was authored by Audrey Smedley (Race in North America: Origin and Evolution of a Worldview, 1993) and thrice reviewed by a working group of prominent anthropologists: George Armelagos, Michael Blakey, C. Loring Brace, Alan Goodman, Faye Harrison, Jonathan Marks, Yolanda Moses, and Carol Mukhopadhyay. A draft of the current paper was published in the September 1997 Anthropology Newsletter and posted ont the AAA website http://www.aaanet.org for a number of months, and member comments were requested. While Smedley assumed authorship of the final draft, she received comments not only from the working group but also from the AAA membership and other interested readers. The paper above was adopted by the AAA Executive Board on May 17, 1998, as an official statement of AAA’s position on “race.”
As the paper is considered a living statement, AAA members’, other anthropologists’, and public comments are invited. Your comments may be sent via mail or e-mail to Peggy Overbey , Director of Government Relations, American Anthropological Association, 4350 N. Fairfax Dr., Suite 640, Arlington, VA 22201.
See also Statement on “Race” and Intelligence
See also AAA Response to OMB Directive 15: Race and Ethnic Standards for Federal Statistics and Administrative Reporting
When your immigrant family arrived here in the west and were treated like $h!T by other white how did that make your family feel. Surely you knew otherwise and fought it. Now that you are
Officially white now and not considered lower class based on origin I am sure you were your tartan with pride. I have a tartan too. I am a Phillips (Masa wanted some strange one night god bless America).
what color are animals with fur,white when shaved.what color of hands ,black.its not where u r at its where u r from.so if u lived n greenland 4 2000 yrs u might look a pale,2000 years n. africa u might look brown.what do u brillant thinkers think.if u guys can think 4 1 min and stop trying 2 b as smart as u think u r.enow have picking my rich ass apart .im not smart but i do work hard 4 the money.reelect r.regan. ps why do we have more now than when we first settle the americas because we planted them .have fun chasing truth.plus i thought it was only adam & eve @ 1st .then population occured
why do we have more trees now ,we planted them
Tee Bee: Dude, I think you let your yams ferment too long! What color is the inside of a dog’s intestine? What color is the outside of a Martian’s ball-sack? Man, run for the jungle, now! Else yo tribal mates gone sell you to another village — for food.
i hate green martians .im sure i can start up some kind of hate group.hey milehigh (mahone) prove me wrong.didnt think so.dont foget to take a shower this month & pay your rent plus late fee
when do most white males start to protect white females from black males?when they start playing sports .that 1st day they walk past the shower.being a white boy it didnt bother me.because i can hang too baby. how about TIGER BIG DIK WOOD seems like hes tring to help out us whities by having some babies instead of buying dogs and cats.be proud of who u r not what u r
4 the brothers dont worry about small shit same 4 whites. n scope of thing we only have a nano second here on this blue ball(earth)so work hard educated your kids 2+2 abc.instead of who right & who wrong.we already have game shows(price is right,who wants to be millionarie)etc.ps if someone knew everything why do they still write books.hows my writing
I love you Mr. Belcher.
Jimmy, your hero, Mr. Belcher, wrote:
“When your immigrant family arrived here in the west and were treated like $h!T by other white how did that make your family feel.”
Not as bad as if I were indigenous sub-Saharan (i.e., black) African and my relatives captured me and sold me to Arabs for eventual resell to the West.
And: “Now that you are Officially white now and not considered lower class based on origin I am sure you were your tartan with pride.”
My whiteness has never been in doubt by anyone who has seen me. My male ancestors did not wear tartan skirts (not ‘were’, unless you write ebonic also), they were from Iceland. Their thighs would have frozen.
And: “I have a tartan too. I am a Phillips (Masa wanted some strange one night god bless America).
And homey wanted some snow one night and we got Obama. Dude, I think that makes us more than even on the slavery thing.
Mr. Obama, Sr. hammered the white girl for far more than one night. I think it was a couple of months.
Roscoe: she’s so lucky she wasn’t an albino, or else he might have cut her up and sold her for parts when he finished. BTW, if he stayed around for days, he beat the average of most black men.
I’ve enjoyed this thread. It’s scary that Blecher thinks he is educated-its scarier that others think he is educated. I know Egyptians and I have been to Egypt and they look just like the people who have been living there for the past 6,000 years or more. Oh! the wheat they grew was domesticated on the shores of the Caspain Sea. There is a growing body of evidence which puts the Trans-Caucaus as the real cradle of civilization. When one looks at the geography that area has it all-‘ocean’ mountains, well drained plains, ample water and diverse climates.
Ancient Egypt was a Mediterranean civilization, not a sub-Saharan civilization. This fact is singularly unpalatable to the racially sensitive tastes of the Afrocentrist. Some of Belcher’s assertions are clearly absurd and I wasn’t going to respond point for point to his lengthy diatribe, particularly since he clearly hasn’t assimilated the data which I presented. However, here are some noteworthy points.
“How people have been accepted and treated within the context of a given society or culture has a direct impact on how they perform in that society. The “racial” worldview was invented to assign some groups to perpetual low status, while others were permitted access to privilege, power, and wealth. The tragedy in the United States has been that the policies and practices stemming from this worldview succeeded all too well in constructing unequal populations among Europeans, Native Americans, and peoples of African descent. Given what we know about the capacity of normal humans to achieve and function within any culture, we conclude that present-day inequalities between so-called “racial” groups are not consequences of their biological inheritance but products of historical and contemporary social, economic, educational, and political circumstances.”
Note that his thesis presents racial underachievement as the result of a “worldview”, as if a cabal of powerful individuals/organizations existed several hundred years ago and as if a pre-United Nations world was not even more discordant than our current world. (This alone marks Belcher as delusionary) One has to note that this kind of unity-of-action on a globular scale only reveals itself to the more paranoid among us. And, of course, he doesn’t address the fact that other once excluded and devalued cultures in America, like the Chinese, the Irish, and even the Japanese (who were bitter enemies within recent memory) have fused with American culture and even risen to eminence.
Any individual black human can be as smart or smarter than any individual Oriental, Caucasian or member of another group. However, when it comes to statistics the sub-Saharan race is low man on the totem pole. Nature, in her wisdom, does not endow all humans with the same abilities or capabilities; hence, when you crunch the numbers, some identifiable groups will outperform others. Nature is not an egalitarian democrat politician; she is a realist. This is the burr under the saddle of the Afrocentrist. And as far as the idea that a monolithic “racial worldview” was invented to assign some groups to low status, well, frankly, when those from the societies of the industrial age and pre-industrial age first encountered sub-Saharans they found them maintaining the most primitive of cultures imaginable, sans even a written language. This lack of culture (vestigial, at best) and achievement, combined with striking racial features, seemed to mark the sub-Saharan African as the very apotheosis of human primitivism.
Therefore, there was no secret cabal involved, merely egotistic humans doing what came naturally by imputing a large degree of racial inferiority to those they seemed obviously superior to. This has been the nature of civilizations since recorded history, and if you study African culture in depth, you will find that they, tribe by tribe, consider themselves superior to others, as did American Indians, Egyptians, Greeks, etc. etc. etc. Most cultures, or races, have assumed themselves to be the Crown Of Creation. Yet, Black Americans have to resort to trying to steal another culture’s glory because they find the nimbus on their own is so dull.
The most astounding evidence that the Afrocentrists ignore is the iconic record left by the ancient Egyptians. These show a civilization that is physically like the modern Egyptians, which is no surprise; and when, in line drawings, or paintings, the ancient Egyptians depicted a Nubian, they look like your basic sub-Saharan individual, with broad noses, afro hairdos and even the distinctly rounded butts. With rare exception black Africans were not part of the Egyptian civilization; a dynasty of three black pharaohs did rule briefly, but they were from Nubia and took over Egypt after a civil upheaval occurred. It would be as if the Chinese moved in and took over America after a major civil upheaval. It would mean that we had three Chinese presidents, but not that George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, etc., were Chinese, nor that the Chinese founded America.
As for the modern Egyptians, they maintain that their ancestors were not black Africans. And black Africans themselves do not maintain that ancient Egypt was a black culture. This is strictly a belief of black Americans desperate to distance themselves from sub-Saharan civilization and to attach themselves to something more noteworthy by supplanting another racial group’s place in history. In the long run, Belcher and his cronies will not advance the cause of improving the lives of black Americans by willfully stealing another culture. Racial self-esteem is not a transferable commodity.
i had a chines girlfriend once she was hot. said i was idiot an destryed my racal sefl-esteem.
Egypt or KMT is and was and ever shall be in Africa. No amount of jedi mind tricks will change that fact. Europe did not give rise to Kamite civilization. We are no doing Glotolchronology on the languages of KMT and West African languages and find that dates of migration match with the times of barbarian immigration from the north. The truth crushed to earth will rise.
Ethnocentrism seems to be a big problem by both white and black Americans, and it has to do with stealing and appropriating both the cultural accomplishments of Native Americans and their very Identity. They are not happy with just the possibility of contact with the America’s, but also usurping all accomplishments and the very identity of NAs and their Status as the Indigenous people of the Americas. The Whites with their “Solutrean Hypothesis” and the Blacks with their ” They came before Columbus”, where not only their prospective races not only got here, but got here FIRST before the Native Americans. I know why the blacks do it, but why the hell are white doing it? We know they are not doing it for their wounded self-esteem, so why are they?
It looks like they are steadily moving in and claiming new civilizations to go along with Egypt now. They are founders of civilizations in The Middle East, India, Europe, Asia, Polynesia, Australia, Melanesia, and finally the Americas. More specifically they Are the real Native Americans, the Olmecs, Aztecs, Maya, Inca, the Yamassee, the Black Californians, the Washita Muurs, the Black Seminoles, it goes on and on! It is all over the Internet and spreading like a virus.’they will not be happy until they usurp the whole Non-African worlds history.