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New Article by Pastor Robert (Rik) Stevenson, Jr.

posted May 22, 2013, 7:18 PM by Robin Michelle

Afrocentricity and Africology: Molefi Asante at the 8th Annual Race Conference

by Rik Stevenson (1st year doctoral student)

Rik Stevenson

This semester of the 10th Anniversary of the African American and African Studies program at Michigan State University Conference ended with a bang. Dr. Molefi Asante, the world-renowned scholar and founder of the Africology Program at Temple University, spoke on the purpose of Afrocentricity and Africology.

Article Image 1Dr. Asante's initial discourse was about the disconnect between scholars in our field of study. He suggested that as scholars we should be engaged in more conversations with each other as opposed to simply critiquing each other's work. Dr. Asante stated that "One of his concerns with African American Studies as a discipline is that we don't read each others works. We tend to critique each other without reading each other." The collective of the intellectual capital in Black or Africana studies will find its foundation not only in critique and interrogation but also in our personal development and discourse with one another.

The second area of discourse was in response to the question "What is wrong with Black folk?" Dr. Asante's response was, "We think and operate like white folk and therefore we are off centered." Our reality is much different than that of our white counterparts and therefore we need our own framework through which to interrogate and analyze the world and our collective circumstances.

Dr. Asante suggests that we tend to arrive at the wrong or unhelpful conclusions because we are asking the wrong questions. We tend to ask questions from a Eurocentric perspective. Thus, the need for Africology. We need to read each other's work and converse with each other before we offer an uninformed critique. There is brilliance in the Africana community and he suggested that we tap into it.

Article Image 2His next area of discourse was about Africology. He stated that Africology is a discipline of Afrocentricity. Africology is concerned with what Black people are thinking. It is concerned with the view of the world that is produced through black eyes. One of the examples he gave regarding this idea was a question: what was in the minds of the Africans in Philadelphia during the framing of the Declaration of Independence? The planter, the coach driver, and the cook? Did they see freedom in the same way as their white masters? If not, what was on their minds? These are the questions that an Africologist should ask. These questions are laden with the needs and concerns of those who were in the room but not a part of the idea, nor the process. Part of the task of the Africologist is to give voice to those whose voices have been silenced and marginalized by racism and colonialism.

There are at least three take-aways from Asante's discourse that I thought were pertinent. (1) Afrocentricity is a community idea. Its purpose is to clarify, verify and unify and inform the Africana community. This is unlike Eurocentrism, which tends to isolate and individualize. The motto of Afrocentricity would be "I am because you are and you are because I am." We are the community. Our success is dependent upon our unified collective. (2) As an African community we should encourage and inspire creativity. We as a black people are at our best when we are free to create and develop without restriction. (3) As an African people we are a mixed group, a multi-ethnic group. We are Igbo, Yoruba, Akan and Ashanti. We are many groups, with many languages, with many histories, that still need and require diligent rigorous investigation, interrogation, analysis and critique.