Africana Educator, Activists, Pan Africanists, ASCAC member
Africana Studies in the 21st Century and beyond
An Intro to Doshon Farad's Africana Studies in the 21st Century and Beyond
(I will use African and Black Interchangeable for people of African descent)
The US establishment, and world-wide white western hegemony, have a very long racist history of viewing Black history as illegitimate history. Since our sojourn in the western world; we as Black people have struggled to resurrect our history, rescue our history, reconstruct our history, hold on to our own history, tell our own history, and challenge the world to respect Black History as legitimate history.
Scientific evidence shows that Africa is the birthplace of humanity, her people populated the world (i.e., Asia, Europe. the Middle East, North America, South America, Australia), Black people authored civilization, and the root of the world's major religions (i.e., Judaism, Christianity, and Al-Islam) can be found in the Nile Valley. Many historians and scientists argue that on the world stage of human progress, civilizations began in the Nile Valley, Many historians and scientists argue that on the world stage of human progress, civilizations began in the Nile Valley, and there were many major civilizations in that area of Africa. However, ancient Kemet reflected humanity's march toward creating the world's first highly advanced civilization in times of antiquity. It played a central role in the development of mathematics, philosophy, medicine, science, government, architecture, a written language, art, monotheism, education, ethics, morals, and religion.
No surprise many cultures and nations borrowed from the knowledge and wisdom of the ancient Kemites to push their civilization forward towards the foundations of modern society. Unfortunately, white supremacy has made ancient Kemet a European or Arab civilization. When in fact, Kemet began as a Black civilization. This is because racists cannot accept the genius of Kemet coming from Black people. They had to put a non-African face on Egypt to justify its greatness being white or Arab. Some white supremacist scholars even went further to completely deny Kemet’s role in the foundation of western and modern civilization. White supremacy and systematic racism have continued to distort the factual contributions Black people made to human civilizations.
Consequently, many racist lies about Black people are made into "truths" in the western world’s institutions of learning. When we as human beings complete our matriculation through European ethnocentric educational institutions, many of us leave the classroom indoctrinated to believe that whiteness is superior. But on the other side of the racial dynamic, Blackness is inculcated as inferior. Unfortunately, these lessons in whiteness have circulated in school systems for centuries making the lives of Black people not matter in the United States and in the world. And in many schools in America, the history of Europeans still exists as the only legitimate history in the millennium. However, New Jersey’s Amistad educational law challenges racist fabrications about Black people and Black History in the classroom.
This law forces educators to eliminate racial inferiority myths about Black people and protects Black History as legitimate history. But most importantly, the Amistad Law mandates that Black history be included in social studies, and in subject area curricula (i.e., math, science, english), to give students a more realistic picture of the development of humanity. Personally, it has given me more freedom to teach Black history in the classroom to help my students understand the missing pages of American and world history to the human world.
The Amistad law (A1301) is an educational law that requires all public schools to include Black history in all social studies classes. This bill was created by two former New Jersey State African American Democratic Assemblymen named William D. Payne and Craig A. Stanley in 2002 (https://www.nj.gov/education/
For many years, supervisors, and the school system itself, did not see the value in teaching Black history in social studies. Now that has changed. Although the Newark Public Schools has reached Amistad perfection yet, some educators in the city clearly see the need to incorporate Black Studies into the school's curriculum. This is due largely from a long struggle of activist Black scholars fighting to make Black studies a part of the teaching and learning process.
Journalist Doshon Farad has written a great commentary discussing and analyzing the importance of Africana (Black) Studies in America and to the world. He challenges the power structure in America and in the world to respect the necessity of Africana (Black) Studies. Doshon is a member of the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations (ASCAC). Doshon is the Co-coordinator for its study group in Newark, NJ. The Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations (ASCAC) is an independent study group organization founded in 1984 by Drs. John Henrik Clarke, Jacob H. Carruthers, Yosef Ben-Jochannan, Rhty Amen, and Maulana Karenga (https://ascac.org/). It is devoted to the rescue, reconstruction, and restoration of African history and culture. Most importantly, ASCAC helps Black people develop an African centered worldview for Black liberation. ASCAC is an organization that provides the opportunity for Black people to educate other Black people about our history and culture.
This organization was founded by scholars deeply rooted in Black communities in New York City, Chicago, Atlanta, Newark, and Los Angeles. It derives its membership from Black people across social classes and occupational fields. The ASCAC organization has since expanded into an international organization with membership regions and representatives from the Caribbean, Africa, and Europe. ASCAC has four commissions which advance this agenda: education, research, spiritual development, and creative production. Along with creating study groups throughout the world, ASCAC holds an annual conference, operates a youth enrichment program, and is editing a comprehensive history of Africa.
-- Bashir Muhammad Ptah Akinyele is a history and Africana Studies teacher in Newark, NJ. He is also ASCAC's (the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations) Study Group Co-Coordinator in Newark, NJ and a Pan Africanist.
Africana Studies in the 21st Century and beyond
“. . .that this race of Black men, today our slave and the object of our scorn, is the very race to which we owe our arts, sciences, and even the use of speech! Just imagine, finally, that it is in the midst of people who call themselves the greatest friends of liberty and humanity that one has approved the most barbarous slavery, and questioned whether Black men have the same kind of intelligence as whites!”
-- French historian Count Constantine de Volney Travels Through Syria and Egypt in the Years 1783, 1784, and 1785 (London: 1787), p. 80-83
In his 1997 essay “Why Africana History?” Dr. John Henrik Clarke asserts that “Africa and its people are the most written about and the least understood of all of the world's people.”
It is quite tragic that two decades later Dr. Clarke has yet to be proven wrong. Despite the indisputable evidence of civilization having its root in Africa, and its contribution to every field of human endeavor, it is still apparent that the history of this continent as well as its descendants (blacks) are still viewed-by and large-very unfavorably (historically for the most part) by a considerable segment of the world. It is for this reason that I believe that Africana or black studies-as it is commonly referred to-is needed within the black community more so now than ever before.
Dr. Clarke stated that his search for African (black) history began, while still a boy attending school, when his teacher told him that blacks had no history worthy of being mentioned.
This myth is still alive and well in the minds of many people (including blacks) across the planet.
There has been an attempt for well over five centuries to obscure the role that Africa has played in world affairs since the advent of human civilization. This is why Dr. W.E.B. Dubois flatly stated in his book The Negro, “There are those, nevertheless, who would write universal history and leave out Africa. But how, ask Ratzel, can one leave out the land of Egypt and Carthage? And Frobenius declares that in future Africa must more and more be regarded as an integral part of the great movement of world history.”
Of course some may surmise that Africa’s role in human development is rather common knowledge amongst most. I would argue, however, that this is not the case.
For whenever Africa is brought up images of naked “savages”, desolate land, and poverty still dominate the psyche of most individuals. This includes many blacks who would be classified as “educated” with college degrees who are oblivious of the historical role their ancestors have played in America and across the globe. What’s even more frightening is that many of these same individuals unknowingly take part in the perpetuation of negative images regarding their own history and culture. This has been the unfortunate tragedy of Eurocentric indoctrination for well over five hundred years. This type of indoctrination causes its victims to view themselves through the eyes of their conquerors and to relegate themselves to cultural inferiority-in effect making them feel historically irrelevant.
The above factors are just some of the reasons that led Dr. Carter G. Woodson to writing his monumental book “The Mis-education of the Negro” as well as establishing what would later be called “Black History Month”.
It is important to note that Dr. Woodson began extensively studying African (black) history once he, after receiving a doctorate from Harvard (being the second black to do so following Dubois), realized that he, like most blacks, had been “mis-educated” regarding history as it specifically pertains to us.
I see this reality on a daily basis especially in my travels. Keep in mind that as a journalist and writer I travel across the country covering and attending different events focused on black progress. As I listen to the various discussions as well as engage in powerful dialogues at these black ran forums (comprising mostly of “educated” and successful blacks), the ignorance regarding our status in the world is made very apparent. Most “educated” African-Americans or African-Caribbeans cannot name five thriving ancient African civilizations or rulers that had an impact on world history in the past five thousand years. But many of them will take pride in knowing the great civilizations and rulers of Europe and other continents.
Now you may ask why it is important for us (blacks) to know about our ancestral past. Well quite clearly as Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop pointed out, if we see greatness in ourselves we will accomplish great things. This is why I emphasize the need for self-education as well as formal education. But the downside to formal education is that it restricts you to the thinking of the particular institution that you are attending. You are often fed information (or “programmed”) without being taught critical thinking skills. On the contrary, the benefit of self-education is that you are free to “program” yourself or formulate your own ideas. In this case without Eurocentric indoctrination. This is one of the reasons why J.A. Rogers (who only had a third grade education) was able to accurately narrate African (black) history so well in his many phenomenal books.
The struggle of those who have found enlightenment, after being formally educated, is that they are then burdened with the task of re-programming their mind. This can be a painful process as you further come to the realization that you have been systematically lied to for several years.
Dr. William Leo Hansberry made this very clear when he stated: “While carrying out these self-imposed reading assignments, I had made a diligent effort to learn something about what had been the course of human affairs in Black Africa during what was then widely believed to have been the "Golden Age" of the Ancient World; but my quests in these respects proved of but little avail. Apart from an occasional, and usually tantalizingly enigmatic or obscure reference while perusing the excitement-packed historical chapters of the Old Testament, and 'blood and thunder' narratives in many of the 19th century 'Outline Histories of the Ancient World,' I acquired little else that added to my exceedingly limited knowledge of Black Africa's story in olden days."
This is why the pioneers of African centered scholarship in America such as George Washington Williams, Carter G. Woodson, Hansberry, Dubois, J.A. Rogers, Schomburg, Gerald Massey; and those after them like Clarke, Ben-Jochannan, Chancellor Williams, and Jacob Curruthers, were so valuable. And we cannot forget their students as well such as Dr. Leonard Jeffries, Dr. Marimba Ani, Professor James Smalls, Dr. Maulana Karenga, Dr. Molefi K. Asante, and Dr. Tony Browder.
Today we are now witnessing the rise of a new generation of African centered scholars who are carrying the torch. Individuals like Dr. Greg Carr, Dr. Mario Beatty, Dr. Tyrene Wright, Dr. Akil Khalfani, Michael Imhotep, and so many others in this era are preserving Africa’s illustrious past. African (black) history must be told (properly) or we run the risk of being historically extinct.
Posted: Fri, Mar 31