PAN-AFRICAN ASSOCIATIONS OF AMERICA PRESS RELEASE
SINCE MOLEFI K. ASANTE HAS COINED THE TERM "AFROCENTRICITY," AFRICAN PEOPLE IN THE USA HAVE COME TO USE THE TERM IN EVERY WHICH WAY POSSIBLE WITHOUT USING IT CORRECTLY. MANY, HAVING NEVER READ THE BOOK "AFROCENTRICITY" OR ANY OTHER AFRICAN-CENTERED MATERIAL BY AFRICAN-CENTERED SCHOLARS, HAVE USED IT IN EVERY COMMERCIAL WAY POSSIBLE TO SELL THINGS. THE TERM "BLACK" HAS BEEN REPLACED BY THE TERM "AFROCENTRIC" WITHOUT THE INDIVIDUAL EVER HAVING READ ANYTHING, TAKEN A WORKSHOP ON THE PHILOSOPHY OF AFROCENTRICITY, OR ATTENDED A SEMINAR WHERE THE TERM WAS EXPLAINED. AFRICAN PEOPLE, IN THEIR NATURAL CONTEMPT FOR ORIGINAL PROFOUND THINKING NOT APPROVED OF BY WESTERN CIVILIZATION, HAVE NATURALLY ASSUMED THAT THEY WOULD NATURALLY KNOW WHAT IT WAS BECAUSE THEY WERE BLACK. ONE CAN BE BLACK AND NOT AFROCENTRIC. NOW A DAYS YOU FIND AFROCENTRIC DOLLS, TALK SHOWS, CLOTHING STORES AND GREETING CARDS THAT HAVE, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH THE PHILOSOPHY OF AFROCENTRICITY.
PUT SIMPLY AFROCENTRICITY IS A PHILOSOPHICAL POSITION THAT AFRICAN PEOPLE MUST BECOME THE SUBJECT OF THEIR HUMAN EXPERIENCE RATHER THAN THE OBJECT OF THAT EXPERIENCE. ANY HISTORY WE LEARN THAT WE HAVE NOT WRITTEN FROM THE POSITION OF OUR SOCIAL EXPERIENCES CAN BE QUESTIONED FOR ITS TRUE VALIDITY TO OUR NEEDS. BLACK STUDY COURSES THAT ARE NOT AFRICAN-CENTERED IN NATURE CAN ONLY BE EUROPEAN-CENTERED IN INTERPRETATION EVEN IF A BLACK PERSON IS TEACHING THE COURSE. THIS IDEA ALONE CHALLENGES WHO IS TEACHING AND WHAT IS BEING TAUGHT.
TO RAISE THE LEVEL OF CONSCIOUSNESS IN THE AFRICAN COMMUNITIES, WE THOUGHT IT WOULD BE A POSITIVE THING TO INTRODUCE OUR NETWORK TO THE DEFINITION OF AFROCENTRICITY FROM THE SCHOLAR WHO DEVELOPED A CRUCIAL ASPECT OF THE PHILOSOPHY, DR. MOLEFI ASANTE. WE DO NOT AGREE WITH
ALL OF HIS PERSONAL PROCESSES BUT THE FUNDAMENTAL IDEA IS SOUND AND AUTHENTIC.
ANOTHER OBSERVATION THAT IS SAD BUT TRUE: THERE IS NOT ONE BLACK/AFRICANA STUDIES DEPARTMENT LOCALLY THAT USES DR. ASANTE'S TEXT AS THE BASIS FOR A COURSE, TO OUR KNOWLEDGE. TO ANY PROFESSOR WHO IS USING THE TEXT AS THE BASIS FOR A PHILOSOPHY COURSE, WE APOLOGIZE. HOWEVER IF THERE IS NO ONE USING THE TEXT, THEN IT BEGS TO QUESTION IF WHAT THE DEPARTMENT IS DOING IS OF ANY REAL VALUE TO THE SELF-DETERMINATION OF AFRICAN PEOPLE.
The Way of Newness, Page 47
The poet is right when he says, "we walk the way of the new world" a world built upon the foundations of political and cultural Afrocentricity.
Nothing can ever achieve for us the victory we seek but a recapture of our own minds. Most Diasporan Africans and many continental African intellectuals have been taught by white teachers or by blacks who were taught by white teachers. White teachers cannot inspire in our children the visions necessary for them to overcome limitations. Walking the way of the new world means that we must establish schools which will teach our children how to behave like the kings and queens they are meant to be. It is the process of creating Afrocentric schools. Indeed, many of the "so-called" leaders must be re-educated, re-oriented, and restored to their center. The time for preachers who parade as leaders while taking our people down the sleepy road of a white [j]esus who does little for our image or who participates in struggle against us is over.
Afrocentricity says that "God" can speak to us as directly as he spoke to Nat Turner. It says that we do not have to rely upon the distant prophet of the Jews to give us God's words when we have prophets and holy people in our own heritage. (emphasis added) We acknowledge that Jesus came among the Jews but we also recognize the presence of God among Africans and the wide acceptance of the Afrocentric view. The reason we walk the way of the new world is because as the express symbol for the survival of the spirit we have received the invaluable legacies of those who have gone before us and can now demonstrate the superiority of the way for us. It is superior for us because it is from us. It is not external to us; it was not given by some other people to us; it is not a paternalistic, materialistic; benevolent conceptualization. Afrocentricity is you. It derives from you and goes back to you. Now it is possible that your brain is so whitewashed that you cannot see your own center because of the white glare. A few students at a major university organized a splinter organization in opposition to the Black Student Union because they felt that the black students were much too involved in issues of Afrocentricity; they called their organization, Inter-race. Such madness is the direct consequence of self-hatred, obligatory attitudes, false assumptions about society, and stupidity. Our story does not afford us an example of genuine white obligation to anything that is African; it is healthy and is evidence of the respect with which they hold their own culture and heritage. No words can be strong enough for the person who undercuts his own salvation by engaging in rearguard actions for the enemy, which strips him of his self-sense in the first place. Historically correct notions of cohesion and collective imperatives are the most instructive measures for us to assume at this time.
Our social scientists must begin to explore from an Afrocentric methodology the impact of racism on whites, and their socio-communication networks that inflict white racism upon them. Afrocentric social science may be a misnomer, what I am really saying is that Afrocentricity can be used to examine many aspects of white life with the intention of providing clues to successful intervention and circumvention. A total rewrite of the major events and developments in the world is long overdue. Let us give credit to Jacob Carruthers, Chancellor Williams, Ivan van Sertima, Yosef Ben-Jochannan, Maulana Karenga and Cheikh Anta Diop. They have put us on our way. There has been and will be for the foreseeable future a need to examine the historical sources used by the white scholars to confute and refute the actual visual and textual evidences presented of the Black civilization in Egypt. Our own research, lecturing, writing and activism contribute to the restitution of the collective conscious will of Africa.
When our will was broken, a dispersal of the most universal nature occurred. We had reached our point of technical perfection; our collective conscious will be lessened, and dissipated. I shall come back to this theme later. Nevertheless, the research to which we must address ourselves at this juncture has to do with recapturing our own collective consciousness. By reclaiming Egypt, deciphering the ancient writing of Nubia, circulating the histories and geographics of Ibn Khaldun and Ibn Battuta, and examining records of Africans in Mexico and other places in the new world, we have begun the necessary reconstruction.
Afrocentricity is the logical outgrowth of the collective conscious will of the people; the collective conscious will is derived from Afrocentricity. What seems like a tautology* is. Afrocentricity and collective conscious will are one. It is impossible to have a people who accept one without accepting the other. However, it is possible for misguided persons to assume that they can have an Afrocentric collective consciousness through ideologies or religions external to their histories.
What they have is a faith in some spookism! Why is it so difficult for us to believe in each other? People did not believe in the Honorable Elijah Muhammad but they believed in Moses, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, and various Indian gurus. I believe that God spoke to many of our active intellectuals, scholars, and teachers. The message they received was that all truth resides in our own experiences if we only look there. *Needless repetition of an idea in different words, as in "widow woman."
PAAA NOTE: We want to share some more of Dr. Molefi K. Asante's philosophical concept of "Afrocentricity". We have felt the need to do this because as much as educated African Americans complain about African American children not reading, they do not read themselves,
especially, anything that might challenge their notions of reality and their comfort zones about themselves and African people. The book "Afrocentricity" has been around since 1988 and yet we doubt if most professors in any Black/Africana Studies departments have ever read the theory. We are also most certain that most African American mainstream professionals and civil servants have never read the book. And we are, definitely, certain that African American business people and entrepreneurs have not read the theory from the way they add Afrocentric to everything that has nothing to do with "Afrocentricity".
Any African American students who are officers of ASUs and BSUs who have not read the book are also not equipped to lead in those organizations nor anywhere else for that matter. At best they can only lead to more oppression. We hope that by exposing our email network to
excerpts that will go out, we can get African people to buy the book and then make time to read it. After all how can we demand that our children, read, keep an open mind and share information with others while we are too busy to read, censure anything that makes us uncomfortable and hide what we do learn?
LEVELS OF TRANSFORMATION, Pg 49
Afrocentricity is a transforming power, which helps us to capture the true sense of our souls. There are five levels of awareness leading to transformation. The first level is called SKIN RECOGNITION which occurs when a person recognized that his or her skin and/or heritage is black but the person cannot grasp any further reality. The second level is ENVIRONMENTAL RECOGNITION. At this level, the person sees the environment as indicating his or her blackness through discrimination and abuse. The third level is PERSONALITY AWARENESS. It occurs when a person says "I like music, or dance, or chitterlings" and indeed the person may
be speaking correctly and truthfully but this is not Afrocentricity. The fourth level is INTEREST-CONCERN. This level accepts the first three levels and demonstrates interest and concern in the problems of blacks and tries to deal intelligently with the issues of the African people.
However, it lacks Afrocentricity in the sense that it has not been a commitment to an Afrocentric cultural base. AFROCENTRIC AWARENESS, the fifth level, is when the person becomes totally changed to a conscious level of involvement in the struggle for his or her own mind liberation. Only when this happens can we say that the person is aware of the collective conscious will. An imperative of will, powerful, incessant, alive, and vital, moves to eradicate every trace of powerlessness. Afrocentricity is like rhythms; it dictates the beat of your life.
New criteria for life emerge. People do not speak any longer about how many restaurants, how many movie theaters, how many factories a city has, but does a city have schools controlled by Afrocentrists, a museum, a bookstore, a documentary center, and a cultural-spiritual gathering place which houses all the arts? Does a village have good health services? These become the yardstick by which communities are measured for
and by African people. We are seriously in battle for the future of our culture; Afrocentric vigilance is demanded to preserve our culture. Politicians must no longer be allowed to speak in grand terms about employment and housing until they have addressed the value and spiritual issues which continue to plague the community. Thus, we see that Afrocentric awareness is greater than the other levels of awareness because they are merely stages toward perfection, not perfection itself. Once you have Afrocentric awareness no one needs to tell you that you have it or ask you if you have it; it is consciously revealed to yourself and those who meet you. You wear it on your face, in our walk and dress. By contrast, skin recognition is the lowest level of awareness because one only has to exist for it to be experienced. It is the brother we know who lives day by day without considering what he is meant to be or how damaging his life is to the collective will of the people. It is the sister who understands that she is black because she was born black but does not know what it really means. These are the people who are so easily victims of the environmental recognition factor. After they know that they are black in color, they may begin to experience and associate certain phenomena with blackness. In this way, Fanon understood that we could readily associate our difficulties with the social environment caused by our differences, that is, one could see discrimination as inherent in certain societies. Personality awareness is one of the most common levels. It occurs when the brother or sister only talks black, acts black, dances black, and eats black, but does not think black. Similarly, the person who demonstrates interest and concern by writing about blacks, speaking on blacks, and reporting blacks to whites has not achieved the full level of Afrocentric awareness. The person who refuses to condemn mediocrity and reactionary attitudes among Africans for the sake of false unity neither honors nor practices Afrocentricity. As the actions of racists can often be predicted with Afrocentric certainty, the actions of non-Afrocentric persons are also predictable.
At the interest-concern level of awareness a person may find opportunity to be involved in demonstrations against oppression, activities in support of African liberation, conferences about racism, and collecting funds for various worthy causes in the African community, but this is not Afrocentric awareness. It is most definitely an awareness but has not reached the level of commitment to cultural reconstruction one finds in Afrocenric awareness.
Indeed culture is the most revolutionary stage of awareness, that is, culture in the sense that Amilcar Cabral, Frantz Fanon, and Maulana Karenga have written about. This is at the macro-level of education and includes science, music, engineering, architecture, dance, art, philosophy and economics. When we move away from a Eurocentric framework we become more innovative. We know that it is difficult to create freely when you use someone else's motifs, styles, images, and perspectives. Thus, the Afrocentric awareness level is the total commitment to African liberation anywhere and everywhere by a consistent determined effort to repair any psychic, economic, physical or cultural damage done to Africans. It is further a pro-active statement of the faith we hold in the future of African itself.
PAAA NOTE: This will end our limited exploration of the concept of Afrocentricity. We hope that readers will not say that they now understand the philosophical concept of Afrocentricity because they have been exposed to a few from excerpts from Dr. Asante's book
"Afrocentricity". Readers need to buy the book and read it first. Then readers need to also buy the books "The Afrocentric Idea" and "Kemet, Afrocentricity and Knowledge" all, which are also by Dr. Molefi K. Asante. These books need to be featured in Black and African studies as a course in philosophy. African community activists need to read these books before they start throwing around the term that they are being Afrocentric. Merchants who are misusing the term that they are selling "Afrocentric" products need to know what they are talking about and reading the books would be helpful. Educators teaching from K-12 need to read the books to understand what they are not doing to empower African children culturally. Finally continental
Africans and even their Heads-of-State and other dignitaries need to read the books and use them for shaping the policy and direction of nation-state development rather than hold on to ideas that undermine African empowerment on the continent itself. Perhaps all of this will lead to organizations and nations inviting Dr. Asante to discuss the idea and how it should work in African communities worldwide. It is also an original idea that needs to be incorporated into the Pan-African community as a uniquely African answer to the Eurocentric philosophies that have boxed in the ideal and rendered it ineffective in the past thirty years.
CONSCIOUSNESS Page 50
There are two aspects of consciousness: (1) toward oppression, and (2) toward victory. When a person is able to verbalize the condition of oppression, he exhibits the earliest consciousness of his oppression. This is the most elemental form of consciousness and is found in the speeches, poems, plays and lives of a million people who parade as conscious individuals. They know neither the correct expression of consciousness nor the damage they do to their own persons by practicing a fractured consciousness. In fact, they are often admired as being examples of conscious individuals. Thus, you have a sister saying in a seminar that "the white man will never let us be free, he's evil and we know it." She is conscious of oppression but not of victory. Or the brother who wrote the play with the slaves being whipped on the ship's decks, or the entertainer who gives time to the local church that fights against racism, or the poem that sings of "our intractable sorrow" or the young child who recognizes the differences between economic positions of her parents and the white parents.
I can know what is going on with the society and yet not know how to get out of a predicament. General knowledge is no substitute for specifity. The high schooler who wears corn rows or writes stories about black people may exhibit a consciousness of oppression but that is not consciousness of victory; consequently, deliverance is postponed until there is a victorious historical will.
The victorious attitude shows the Africans on the slave ship winning. It teaches that we are free because we choose to be FREE. Our choice is the determining factor; no one can be your master until you play the part of slave. A mighty victorious consciousness grounded in Afrocentricity is needed to create the national imperative. Speak victoriously, dispense with resignation, create excellence, and establish victorious values. Know your history and you will always be wise. The Africans on the slave ships won in more ways than they lost. Affection, courage, and humor in their pain were the elements, which gave us the right to be a new people today. No example of oppression consciousness is stimulating in a progressive sense. Our history and future are only connected in victory. Struggle itself become oppression consciousness when one cannot see the victory.
These two aspects of consciousness are both a part of our history. Like all history, we can speak of objective and subjective dimensions to our history. The type of relationship between our consciousness, and our history is the true character of Afrocentricity. If we are
Afrocentric, then we know that objective and subjective, while not arbitrary designations, are not ironclad. We determine what constitutes objectivity and subjectivity by deciding what is necessary in order for the relationship between history and consciousness to work. If a person does not know that the true character of a people resides in how they relate their history to the present and future, no Afrocentric person can ever have merely a consciousness of oppression, pain, and suffering. The present and future must be projected as victory, indeed the present must be lived victoriously. To be conscious of how difficult the European has made one's life is to be conscious at a very elemental level. It is like waking from a long sleep. When you first awake, you might rub your eyes or try to focus on some close object until your eyes clear. Consciousness of victory is the awareness that all attitudes and behaviors are achievable.
Such a will overpowers any obstacle in your way and restores the Afrocentrists to strength. Strength is an inner attribute, which cannot be bestowed by another.
- "Afrocentricity" by Dr. Molefi K. Asante, African World Press
By the way for students attending community colleges and universities, if the Black and Africana Studies department will not offer courses in Afrocentric philosophy, empowerment is starting study groups on the books rather than complaining, in oppression consciousness, about the unfairness of the department, the college or the university.