(A Brazenly Dislocating Education): Our children go to schools where they learn to idolize whiteness and to honor the victories of white people over black people. We are blanketed with curricula that teach us that we are not equal to other people and that if it were not for whites rescuing us from Africa we would be without civilization. Our precious children, the future of our people, sit in classrooms where the lessons are about other people as the makers of mathematics, science, art, medicine, engineering, and philosophy as if our ancestors never had a thought.
Who would, in this age, give over the education of their children to their sworn enemies to teach? Malcolm X had proclaimed that only a fool would do such a thing. Yet the overwhelming curricula of education on the African continent, in the Caribbean, in South America, and in North America, to which our African children are exposed are nothing more than the massaging of the greatness of white art, music, dance, culture, science, and religion. We have lost sight of our own history and we are blinded by the whiteness of the curriculum to the incredible dangers that lurk in our minds because of the teaching of white superiority.
No one says that they are teaching white superiority but in most schools in the United States, and I dare say in Africa, this is precisely what is being taught to undermine the mental stability of black children. This is why the first order of business for blacks in South Africa should have been the overthrow of all statues of white conquerors!
What passes as contemporary culture or as the culture of black people in the United States is nothing more than a caricature created by the image manipulators of the entertainment industry who have found in our youth, disconnected as they are from any foundation, a willing audience for the destabilizing influences of white domination. We are confronted everyday with radical choices and those choices appear in economics, politics, and culture. Consumerism among African Americans is the highest among all American ethnic groups. We spend more of our income on goods and services than other people that means that we save less than other people. This is so in almost all social classes of African Americans.
The black poor spend more of their money than the white poor; the black middle class spends more of its money than the white middle class. We are the master consumers for all other ethnic groups. We spend more on Chinese food than we do on African food and we own almost no Chinese restaurants. Our consumerism is not just with produce and services, but also with ideas. We are susceptible to the ideas of other cultures than our own African cultures; few other American ethnic or cultural groups respond to outside influences the way African Americans do.
The burden of enslavement and the memory of colonization are with us at every turn and dispensing with these telltale signs of historical trauma will elevate our production, love of community, and defense of our culture. If each of us vows to wear something made by the hands of Africans every day we would help spark textile growth in many economies. Choosing Africa is a self-conscious Afrocentric act without which we cannot possibly have Pan Africanism. The first law is to choose your own people’s history as your model for liberation.
(Overcoming the Economic Conundrum): Let us quickly examine the situation with regard to economics. All economics is cultural and no economic theory is devoid of cultural context. Do we truly understand the global nature of capital in the West? Are our people sufficiently astute to even understand how they are affected by the growing disdain that capitalists have for them? Who developed the idea of chattel and what is its purpose? The principal confusion around capitalism in the United States and in the West generally is the fact that whiteness itself is the most valuable property to possess in a racist society. One of the key concepts to be articulated by Kimberle Crenshaw and her colleagues in Critical Race Theory, a variant of Afrocentric Theory, is the property interest in whiteness.
A racist society, that is, a society in which one particular construction of race emerges as the dominant ideal in society, produces a miscreant, sinister, and malevolent attitude toward those who do not reflect the dominant ideal. Thus, the black people of America, despite the election of an African American as president, remain outside of the principal halls of economic power. We are victimized by the same elements of racism that have marginalized our culture and history for centuries.
What we know is that the labor that we gave to the United States for 246 years was stolen labor; it was not freely given but it was taken to build the most dominant racist industrial empire the world had ever known. Africans were made to participate in our own demise although we were never satisfied with the condition of our impoverishment. We knew that we were making white America richer and sought every means to disrupt the subversion of our lives. In the 21st century we are once again faced with mass economic deprivation as the international corporate class continues to force jobs to nations with low pay. The transfer of capital between nations is nothing more than the vile search for more obscene profits for the capital class.
Our struggle against the undermining of African people in the economic sphere has been on-going for nearly one hundred years and yet we have had to fight off all forms of intellectual subversion appearing often as if to support us but in the end these forms of internationalism and globalization are seeking to derail our struggle. There is a strange cadre of postmodern, deconstructionist, and postcolonial culturalists, and subaltern scholars who want to create confusion in our minds about our condition.
This crew of intellectuals is led by white western scholars but is joined at the hip to African and African American scholars who contribute to the shifting of analysis from critiques of racism, capitalist oppression, Westernity to the notions of representation and identity. The blacks that participate in this charade of individualistic intellectualism find joy in critiquing any ideas that speaks of nation, nationalism, or master narratives. Instead they celebrate “fragments,” “fluidity,” and “hybridity.” The aim is to problematize the quest for liberation and to stifle our journey toward the acceptance of a new diversity.
Part lll is next...
Molefi Kete Asante, Chair and Professor, Department of African American Studies at Temple University.
Molefi Kete Asante Institute for Afrocentric Studies
5535 Germantown Avenue Philadelphia, PA 19144 www.mkainstitute.com, www.afrocentricityinternational.org, www.asante.net, www.cla.temple.edu/AAS