Talk:Afrocentrism/Archive 1

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"Radical" Afrocentrism"

I've NPOV'ed this section, because I have trouble with the way it is worded --in absolutes. Further, certain elements that it claims are features of so-called "radical Afrocentrism" are, indeed, grounded in historical fact. I think there needs to be some recognition of the fact that what is scholarly Afrocentrism (a label with which some "Afrocentric" historians -- such as Ivan van Sertima -- take issue; they claim simply to be historians ) and what crosses some invisible line into "radical Afrocentrism" is something that is clearly debatable. To some white folks, any kind of so-called "Afrocentrism," period, is "radical" and unacceptable. [x] I mean there are folks who still think ancient dynastic Egyptians weren't black Africans and were, instead, Europeans, or Eurasian, or light-skinned Semites, or something -- a completely erroneous view that the wording in this section would seem to support. This needs clarification, as well as, perhaps, a point-counterpoint kind of presentation. deeceevoice 23:20, 7 Feb 2005 (UTC)

With regards to [x], what is the consensus within the scholarship on this? El_C 11:14, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)
I also would like to know about this. If there is now a scholarly consensus on this, I think a note about the "blackness" of ancient Egypt would be a great and interesting example of the scholarly contributions of Afrocentrists. I'd always assumed that ancient Egyptians looked basically "Semitic" and were ethnically related to the Berbers. I think that's a widely held assumption. If it's false, we should get that in there. BabaJobu 18:40, 10 Feb (GMT)
What the hell. I've simply decided to remove the section below until certain things can be ironed out regarding the general approach to this subject matter. I've already changed the header regarding criticism of "radical" Afrocentrism to simply criticism of Afrocentrism. There is no clear distinction between what is radical (beyond the claim of black superiority) and what is not. There are some claims that this section discounts out of hand which do, indeed, have merit.
Please remeber to sign your username. Fair enough, I just didn't know whether the term "radical" was used in this way in any notable sense (if it isn't, naturally the article cannot title as such throughout since this would be original research). El_C 22:06, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Is "radical" Afrocentrism an actual (encyclopedically notable) term? El_C 11:14, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Radical Afrocentrism

A more radical form of Afrocentrism is often associated with black supremacy, and has been sometimes been labeled pseudohistory. Radical Afrocentrism claims Africa to be the predominant source of world culture. In addition, the most radical Afrocentric histories view all African peoples as a distinct race with superior genetic features that they carry with them as they colonize other continents.

According to this radical Afrocentric view, the Ancient Egyptians are grouped with the numerous distinct sub-Saharan african peoples as a single dark-skinned race. Radical Afrocentrists often refer to Egypt as Kemet, the indigenous term for the country, which means "black land" (although traditionally this term has been understood to refer to the dark fertile soil beside the Nile, in contrast to the desert, or "red land" beyond, rather than skin color).

According to radical Afrocentrism, Africans were responsible for all the great innovations in ancient philosophy, science and technology. These were later 'stolen' by the Greeks and other European peoples. This argument is found in the book Stolen Legacy by George G. M. James, who derives many of his ideas from 18th century Masonic assumptions about Egyptian wisdom. Such views are copied in many other later books. Radical Afrocentrists have also claimed that Africans discovered America. The academic Molefi Kete Asante is the best known exponent of Radical Afrocentrism.

deeceevoice 23:28, 7 Feb 2005 (UTC)

So are those Afrocentric scholars who claim African discovery of America distinguished notably as "radical" ? And which branch of Afrocentrism believes in 'the superiority of one culture over another' ? El_C 11:14, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I know of no widely published (by a reputable publishing house) black historian who makes such claims of black superiority. If there are such people, kindly enlighten me with proof. deeceevoice 14:10, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Well, I don't know either, which is why I asked: because the article states this, and I reworded it, but we need to establish whether it is encyclopedic. Also, see my questions above, some of which remain outstanding. El_C 22:06, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)

npov tag

that's not really the definition of Afrocentrism. Almost every link I've read doesnt equate Eurocentrism with Afrocentrism. More generally Afrocentrism is myth taught as history, not a changing approach on Africa's "contribution to world history." This article is totally POV and factually incorrect. Somebody needs to look after it. Wareware 01:32, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)

When that somebody proves to be you, I will personally reinstate the tag. But we need more substantive evidence than the anectodal [a]lmost every link I've read and the non-comittal [s]omebody needs to look after it. El_C 01:50, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)
here, http://skepdic.com/afrocent.html first site that comes up from google search. Good enough for you? Wareware 02:01, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC) Wareware 02:01, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)
No, it isn't, not for me. I have already read it at any rate. Again, we need more substantive evidence (I suggest scholarly sources) other than the top link on google. Have you read any of the scholarly works cited in the references or external link section? They may prove of aid to you in desmontrating the factual verifiability of your position. Otherwise, it strikes me as a rather sophomoric attempt. A little more effort is warranted on your part. El_C 02:18, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Addendum: To be clear, I'm not necessarily disagreeing with you, I actually don't know that much on this topic. I may be an African historian, but Afrocentrism and its respective debats are not my field and I have very little familiarity with it as a construct and worldview. But, really, I expect you to approach this issue in a social-scientific way. You're a university student, so these sort of methodological expectations should not be surprising to you. As it stands, your side of the argument (which might be correct, I don't know), suffers because you are taking this article to task in a very superficial way, evidence-wise. El_C 02:28, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I just reread this talk page and a small correction to my comment above is due. When I said I am an African historian, I meant an historian who largely (but not only) specializes in studying African history (20th Century, Central and Southern Africa to be exact). It did not mean that I, myself, am of an African descent (nor does it mean that I am of a non-African descent). It was a grammatical error rather than a highly uncharactaristic revelation (those editors that know me, could attest as to how strictly I keep all my personal details: sex, age, ethnicity, etc., confidential). So, who aren't I remains topical! El_C 08:15, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)


Okay, I have reread the article and the source you provided (which, actually, I mistook for a different one – sorry about that) and I retract my comments. There are serious NPOV issue which I am in the midst of attending to. El_C 03:16, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)

NPOV changes

Okay, I have reviewed and made changes to the article to reflect the NPOV issues alluded to by Wareware. And this is perhaps a good a time as any for me to eat my own words by attempting to follow my own advice: reading more closely. Yikes. Wareware, if the you find the changes I made insufficient, please reinstate the tag and I will give it another shot. Thanks, and sorry. El_C 03:47, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)

are the Moors and Tamils in India considered "black" in the ethnic sense, as someone similar to sub-saharan Africa? I believe Moors are from North Africa more closely associated with the Arab world. Same thing with Tamils, aren't they Dravidians from India? What do they have to do with afrocentrism? Wareware 07:52, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Hmm. Good questions, I'm not really sure how they are classified in that sense (or, more specifically, what the classification means exactly). I would like to know the answer to these questions, too. El_C 08:15, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)
"Black Tamil" is simply the way they're known. In fact, "Tamil black" is a common color in some pigment manufacturing companies. They are among the blackest ethnic groups I've ever seen (photos only). Some have frizzy/nappy hair; most straight -- like Australian aborigines. Spencer Wells recently did some extensive DNA research into the origins of humankind. The San bushmen (now of the Kalahari) have the oldest DNA of any human beings on the planet. Wells traced their DNA directly to southern India, Tamil Province, and then on to Australia -- providing an irrefutable piece to the puzzle of human migration from (as "Afrocentrists" and others long have claimed) -- that the earliest significant out-migration of humans from Africa was along the coast of India and then to Australia (and then likely to the nearby islands -- Tazmania, Papua New Guinea, etc.). Some new East Indian scholars have adopted this view and consider themselves part of the "African diaspora." As a matter of fact, in speaking with my friends from Bangladesh and various Indians I have known, they consider themselves "black." Of course, much of India (notably, Hindu India) is negrophobic and has been perverted by white supremacist notions. They steer clear of black (African) people, bleach their skin, straighten their hair, seek light-skinned mates, etc., etc., etc. The caste system in India is something that resulted from the Persian incursions and the suppression of nonmiscegenated, indigenous Indians. The Tamils resisted/rejected the caste system and Hinduism, which is heavily syncretic. The farther north one goes in India, the lighter and more of an Afro-Asiatic phenotype the people become; the farther south, the blacker they become. E.g., I'm unmistakeably African-American (with Cherokee/Cado/Irish) -- but my Bangladeshi friends told me that when they first saw me, they thought I was one of them. deeceevoice 10:20, 12 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Since all humans came from Africa it is meaningless to speak of the earliest of such groups as part of the African diaspora. By definition they have been out of Africa longer than others, so more recent groups should more logically be considered to be African daisporic, whatever their skin pigmentation. As far as I know there is indeed good evidence that Australian aboriginals are from an early out-migration. Though for the reasons given above that does not make them any more or less Afican than anyone else. Your argument is really based on old-fashioned race models defined by skin pigment, nose-shape etc. Skin pigment is an evolutionary adaptation that can happen quite quickly. In other words two 'black' people may be far more genetically distinct from one another than a 'black' and a 'white' person. I don't know Wells arguments re Tamils, though I do know that other studies stress the skin-pigment difference tells us little about deep ancestry. I suppose by 'Persian incursions' you are referring to the so-called Aryan Invasion Theory. Well, maybe. That's another topic. It has certainly been important to defining Tamil/Dravidian identity and relating it to notions of oppressed Dalit caste-identity. This is a hugely complicated issue in the cultural and national history of India. But I don't think it's really appropriate here. Perhaps it should be discussed in the article Dravidian race.
btw, 'Tamil black' is a font for writing the Tamil script. Like 'Ariel black' it's called that because it has a heavy bold look. I've never heard of any pigment called Tamil black. Paul B 18:14, 13 Feb 2005 (UTC)

more POV from Afrocentrism vs. Eurocentrism

should we include eurocentrism vs afrocentrism in the first section? I think El C's version is pretty npov and does not go into semantics and wordplay, which is very clean and helpful. In addition, quoting Ivan van Sertima seems to be pushing the Afrocentrist POV even more. If I remember correctly, this is the guy who wrote a book on the purported African visits of the Americas, way before the Vikings and Columbus. Is mentioning this guy in this section NPOV at all? I think it's okay to say that Afrocentrism is 1). worldview focusing on Africa and/or 2). pseudo-history focusing on Africa. No need to get into arguing about semantics, subjectivity objectivity schlobjectivity and more POVs. Wareware 10:06, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)

We can mention him, of course, but we'll need to qualify how his theories are being percieved by his peers. El_C 10:52, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)
That section is problematic, though. We should iron it here in talk. I am restoring my version, for now. El_C 10:55, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Before we do that, perhaps it would be best to go over some of the basics. I am feeling somewhat disoriented with this topic due to lack of familiarity with it. I posed a few questions in the first section of this talk page. Any help in answering these will be appreciated. El_C 11:14, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)

European appropriation of black culture

Passage reads:

An obvious example of European appropriation of black African culture is the common classification of obelisks, porticoes and columns as "Greek" architecture when, they are clearly Egyptian in origin. In fact, fluted columns are key architectural elements of the Step Pyramid at Sakkara, built approximately 2,400 years before the Greek conquest of Egypt.

To my knowledge no-one has ever said that obelisks are Greek. They are Egyptian. No one claims that 'columns' are Greek either. But they aren't Egyptian either. They can be found all over the world, as can porticos. The classical orders of columns are Greek (Doric, Ionic, Corinthian) in origin, as is the classical form of the portico. Paul B 05:32, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)


I deleted it, but it dosen't mean it can't be included in the historical Afrocentrism section (but it is out of place in the criticism one). But I did not reinsert it there, and would like to establish consensus on how professional scholars in the field view the above. Is it accepted as an approriation of African culture? That is has African origins? I have no idea. I would like to see some references that would place the premise into 'conventional' context. I'm reinserting this. Maybe I'll tweak it a little. (I'll see once I decide where to put it.) Anyone who's studied architecture or taken a basic world history course in the West has "learned" that columns, porticos, etc., are elements of "classical Greek architecture." You want a photo of the temple? http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/dsteppyramid1.htm The temple is located in Memphis, of the old (and indisputably black African) empire. These are the earliest examples of columns in architecture. Example of other columns -- palmiform, lotus, and so-called "Corinthian" (the name given to the style is itself evidence of appropriation) columns are at Luxor in the Ramesseum, in Nubia. With regard to the dates, if memory serves Alexander the Great conquered Egypt aroud 300 BCE. Sakkarah was built beginning around 2400 BCE. deeceevoice 12:39, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)

"Corinthian" (the name given to the style is itself evidence of appropriation)" What are you on about? Corinth is a town in Greece. This column style did not originate in Egypt. Paul B 05:37, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Well I haven't studied architecture nor have I ever taken a "world history course in the West," none are key to my field as a 20th Century historian anyway. But, all of that is an aside to my question about the prevailing thoughts in the critical scholarship as to whether it is widely thought to constitute such an appropriation (again, I don't know), but if it is proven to be the case, I still challenge that this should go in the historical Afrocentric section rather than the criticism one. El_C 14:18, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Okay, okay. For those in denial or otherwise challenged:

EGYPT THE BIRTHPLACE OF GREEK DECORATIVE ART.

A SCHOLAR of no less distinction than the late Sir Richard Burton wrote the other day of Egypt as "the inventor of the alphabet, the cradle of letters, the preacher of animism and metempsychosis, and, generally, the source of all human civilization." This is a broad statement; but it is literally true. Hence the irresistible fascination of Egyptology–a fascination which is quite unintelligible to those who are ignorant of the subject. I have sometimes been asked, for instance, how it happens that I–erewhile a novelist, and therefore a professed student of men and manners as they are–can take so lively an interest in the men and manners of five or six thousand years ago. But it is precisely because these men of five or six thousand years ago had manners, a written language, a literature, a school of art, and a settled government that we find them so interesting. Ourselves the creatures of a day, we delight in studies which help us to realize that we stand between the eternity of the past and the eternity of the future. Hence the charm of those sciences which unfold to us, page by page, the unwritten records of the world we live in. Hence the eagerness with which we listen to the Story of Creation as told by the geologist and the paleontologist. [Page 159]

From "Chapter 5: Egypt the Birthplace of Greek Decorative Art." by Amelia Ann Blanford Edwards (1831-1892). Publication: Pharaohs Fellahs and Explorers. by Amelia Edwards. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1891. (First edition.) pp. 158-192. http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/edwards/pharaohs/pharaohs-5.html

And from a college (Aquinas College somewhere in Michigan) course overview online on the globalization of world culture, written by a Dan Brooks, Ph.D. and head of the college's Humanities Program this bit of very, very (nowadays) well known (but, apparently not well known enough!) information:

While the art and architecture of Greece and Rome are often linked because of the deliberate imitation of Greek techniques in the Roman world, the connection of the roots of this tradition to Egypt has been established historically, but is not often emphasized. As we saw in Chapter Four, the inspiration for Greek monumental sculpture and architecture came as a direct result of Greeks living in Egypt (when Greek mercenaries were allowed to settle in the Nile Delta in the seventh century BCE)1. This kind of foreign settlement in Egypt was rarely allowed throughout much of its ancient history, and the Greeks' exposure to Egyptian culture was a revelation that they brought back with them to Greece.

Brooks now can say it's "not often emphasized," but ten, 20, 30 years ago, it was downright freakin' buried -- as evidenced by the rampant ignorance on the subject in many quarters, still, today. deeceevoice 17:58, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Another web entry:

Architectural Styles of Classical Columns The column is a fundamental architectural element and one of the defining characteristics of Classical architecture.

The Greeks borrowed the column from the Egyptians and synthesized it into an architectural style that was characteristically their own. The first fluted columns date back to Egypt's Middle Kingdom (2040 - 1640 BC). The principle architectural ornamentation used by the Greeks was also derived from Eastern predecessors.

http://www.bobvila.com/ArticleLibrary/Location/Entryway/ColumnStyles.html deeceevoice 18:05, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)

And: http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/columns.htm

I've searched but cannot find photographs of columns w/triangulated capitals that are clearly direct precursors of the Corinthian-style column, with acanthus-like leaves, sometimes lotus-form, sometimes palmiform. But they exist. Clearly, columns as a feature of Greek and Roman architecture were taken directly from ancient, black Egyptian architecture. Not even THAT has been disputed by the likes of Lefkowitz who does at least claim that Egyptian art and architecture heavily influenced Greco-Roman culture. (Have you read her?) I have. deeceevoice 18:14, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Well I see you have trawled the web and come up with quotations, including one written in the 1890s, some webpages, and the statement that Greeks took the column from the Egyptians and that they borrowed some ornamental material from 'Eastern' sources. I guess that means Persia or Mesopotamia, but is unlikely to mean Egypt. Well the fact is that you have provided no evidence to support your assertion that anyone ever claimed obelisks to be Greek in origin or your assertion that the Corinthian column (because of its name!) is derived from Egypt. What you do show is what no-one has ever denied: that Egyptian columns predate Greek ones. Whether the style of Greek columns was derived from Egyptian ones is still a matter of debate. That columns - like pyramids - developed independently elewhere in the world is not. Classical Greek art and architecture has traditionally beeen thought to represent a model of aesthetic perfection, one to be imitated by later cultures. That is a judgement of taste. It is not affected by how these designs came into being or by the fact that they were influenced, at earlier stages of their development, by other cultures. However, as a judgement of taste it does affect the perception of non-Greek architecture. That includes other European styles ('barbaric' Viking, or Gothic designs for example) as well as non-European styles. I feel that you are so fixated by the Africa/Europe opposition that you seem to miss other vast areas of culture and of designs in Europe itself, and in Asia, that have been considered inferior to Greek art. By creating a Manichean Europe/Africa opposition I think you simplify history to the point of confusion. Paul B 16.46 13 Feb 2005 (UTC)


Before I adress you comments I would like to make certain thing perfectly clear. You must —stop— from continuing to make exclalmations such as For those in denial or otherwise challenged and many others. I have already asked you to cease from these, and it is not fair that I would have to reiterate that a second time (!) It is tautological and mildly insulting. No, I don't little about any of these things – this is the point though, you should expect the reader to be unfamilliar with it, too (that's the point of an encyclopedia). I have not read Lefkowitz (my accoutn of her is based on book reviews, etc. from reputable sources), I am not familliar with any of the scholars cited above, but it is important that we understand how their theories are generally viewed by academia as a whole, again, regadless what we oursleves think of academia. El_C 22:06, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Reoccuring issue

I wish to recapsulate much of what I said above eversince I've been made aware of some of the problematic components this article exhibits. One issue that I find reoccures and needs to be better addressed systemically, is that the reader is often faced with claims made by Afrocentric scholars, but these are not consistently enough offset by what a consensus of (if such exists, if not we qualify that) and how critical scholars respond to these. We already established that Afrocentric theories are, in that sense, 'disputed,' so we do need to know how each specific claim —not each-and-every one necessarily, but as a general rule— is countered (or if a claim isn't countered, we qualify it as such; again, as a rule, we can allow for exceptions), otherwise our claim for NPOV becomes tenuous. I am confident that by following these steps we can arrive at an article that is accepted by all parties as NPOV. Thanks. El_C 11:37, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Afrocentrism vs. Eurocentrism

The argument against presenting both sides, both views of Afrocentrism is simply bull. They are competing concepts, and each deserves to be heard. I insist on balance in this piece! The pro and con is reinstated. deeceevoice 11:58, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Please refrain from heated exclamations that go towards hindering a collegial editorial collaboration. Are you maintaining that the manner in which the critical scholarship regards historical Afrocentrism is Eurocentrism? Because I don't think that can be passed for encyclopedic. We need to explain how Afrocentrics outline their theories, yes, but this needs to be placed within the context of how the critical scholarship views historical Afrocentrism. We need to have the current social-scientific consensus as a basis, regardless of whether we agree. We cannot, therefore, indirectly obfuscate the fact that Afrocentrism has –vastly– more critics than adherents. The article needs to reflect that more than simply in passing (as was the case prior to today's edits). El_C 12:27, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)

In some regards, yes. Funny. I don't recall anyone calling (Scandinavian) Thor Hyerdahl "afrocentric" when in the 1970s (after Kon Tiki) he sailed the Ra I and Ra II from Egypt to the New World to and wrote about it. I don't recall anyone calling (white) New Zealand archaeologist, linguist and Harvard historian Barry Fell "afrocentric" when he published Saga America in 1979. Or Dr. Andrzej Wiercinski of the University of Warsaw "afrocentrist" when his 1972 study of Olmec skeletal remains revealed distinctly Africanoid characteristics. (Wanna read it yourself? http://www.geocities.com/Tokyo/Bay/7051/content.html ; wanna see an Olmec head? http://www.mesoweb.com/features/jpl/01.html )

Oh, my bad! "Afrocentric" -- that title applies only to black folks with the effrontery to challenge white/Eurocentric scholarship, doesn't it?!! Ivan van Sertima's just some delusional half-wit -- never mind his many honors and his recognition by UNESCO (mentioned in the article and edited out simply because Wareware wrote of his claims that Africans actually could have sailed to the New World before Columbus). You see, only crazed, white-race-hating, revisionist black folks trying to compensate, to find a "therapeutic" remedy for feelings of inherent inferiority can be afrocentric. No credible white historian could possibly believe such claptrap! Could they? Oh, of course not! (Downright pathetic.) deeceevoice 15:37, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)

That dosen't aswer the question, but it does add emotional intensity that is both uneccessary and a hindrence towards an NPOV solution. I, myself, don't know about who these scholars cited above are (again, nor will the average reader), or their respective skin shades. I am only concerned at this point with how the critical scholarship tends to view the claims made by Afrocentric scholars, the specific arguments. Again, you must (must) aim at more emotionally detached explanations. El_C 22:06, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Further, with regard to "radical Afrocentrism"

I intend to remove the section of "radical Afrocentrism" entirely. I think passing reference can be made to it in the pro and con section. Afrocentrist historical theory has credibility -- which is why it has been debated and continues to be debated. It cannot be merely debunked outright. Forty years ago, conventional wisdom had it that the ancient Egyptians were white. When I raised the issue of the blackness of ancient Egyptians with my fourth-grade teacher in the late 1950's I was told I was incorrect. Two years later, the Aswan Dam was built and much of Nubia flooded. But the Temple of Thebes was sawed into pieces, dismantled and then reassembled. I recall in sixth-grade social studies class seeing full-color spreads in "Jr. Scholastic" of huge stone renderings of clearly black African pharaohs seated before the temple. I had been vindicated. (I never brought up the matter with my fourth-grade teacher, who was still at the school -- but he must have been mortified.) :-p

Is "radical Afrocentrism" encyclopedically notable as such though, remaisn the outstanding question. Again, I don't know about any of these things, it certainly is prudent to outline how views have changed on that front, but also, the current consensus within the critical scholarship needs to remain as a basis. I have no strong opinion on this one way or the other. El_C 22:06, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Now it is common for history projects developed by the mainstream media, such as The History Channel and Discovery to readily acknowledge the black Africanness of ancient dynastic Egypt. Forensic reconstruction of royal Egyptian mummies has borne out the black African ethnicity of ancient dynastic Egypt again and again. The wigs, architectural and monumental artifacts bear this out. So, things change. But not quickly enough. People are still abysmally ignorant, still straitjacketed into the old lies and half-truths. In the face of this continued ignorance it is far too easy for individuals to find extreme proponents of one idea or another and then use them as strawmen to paint the entire Afrocentric paradigm as somehow crackpot. Every discipline has its extremists, its eccentrics, even its fools. But this is what Dr. Molefi Asante of Temple University has to say about scholarly Afrocentrist thought (from his scathing review of Lefkowitz's Not Out of Africa):

Professor Lefkowitz has three main axes to grind in her book. The first is that a student told her that she believed Socrates was black. The second is that the Greek gods came from Africa which she attributes to Martin Bernal, the author of Black Athena, and to Cheikh Anta Diop, the author of The African Origin of Civilization. The third is that freemasonry is the source of George James' claim in his book Stolen Legacy that the Greeks got many of their major ideas from the Egyptians

The main point made by Afrocentrists is that Greece owes a substantial debt to Egypt and that Egypt was anterior to Greece and should be considered a major contributor to our current knowledge. I think I can say without a doubt that Afrocentrists do not spend time arguing that either Socrates or Cleopatra were black. I have never seen these ideas written by an Afrocentrist nor have I heard them discussed in any Afrocentric intellectual forums. Professor Lefkowitz provides us with a hearsay incident which she probably reports accurately. It is not an Afrocentric argument....

Professor Lefkowitz makes a statement on page 1 of her book that "In American universities today not everyone knows what extreme Afrocentists are doing in their classrooms. Or even if they do know, they choose not to ask questions." We are off to a bad start. Who are these extreme Afrocentrists? She does not provide us with one example of something that an extreme Afrocentrist is teaching in a classroom. Not one. But already the reader is inclined to believe that something exists where nothing exists. No matter how passionate, assertion is not evidence. What Afrocentrists do teach is that you cannot begin the discussion of world history with the Greeks. Creating clouds of suspicion about scholarly colleagues in order to support a racial mythology developed over the past centuries to accompany European enslavement of Africans, imperialism, and exploitation will not dissipate the fact of Greece's debt to Africa.

<What are the substantial arguments advance by Afrocentrists, not the hearsay comments of a student or some rhetorical repartee between public debaters? What Afrocentrists articulate (see Asante, Kemet, Afrocentricity and Knowledge. Trenton: Africa World Press, 1990; Theophile Obenga, A Lost Tradition: African Philosophy in World History, Philadelphia: Source, 1995) is that the Greeks were students of the Egyptians. Readers should see the works of Yosef Ben-Jochannon and George G. M. James for themselves rather than rely on the misinterpretations and distortions of others.

Near the end of his essay, Asante states very clearly (not block indented; it's too much trouble, but word for word): ---

"On these facts we [Afrocentrist scholars] stand:

  • Ancient Egyptians were black people.
  • Egyptian civilization precedes Greece by several thousand years
  • The pyramids are completed (2500 BC) long before Homer appears (800 BC)
  • Philosophy originates in Africa and the first Greek philosophers (Thales, Isocrates) studied in Egypt
  • A discussion of the wise, wisdom, (sb) appears on tomb of Antef in 2052 BC
  • Thales of Miletus is not a philosopher until 600 BC

"Among Greek historians and others who wrote about what the Greeks learned from Egypt are Homer, Herodotus, Iamblicus, Aetius, Diodorous Siculus, Diogenes Laertius, Plutarch, and Plato. Who were some of the Greek students of Africans, according to the ancient records? They were Plato, Solon, Lycurgus, Democritus, Anaxamander, Anaxagoras, Herodotus, Homer, Thales, Pythagoras, Eudoxus, and Isocrates and many others. Some of these students even wrote of their studies in Egypt as well."

Those wishing to read the entire essay may do so by clicking the link provided in the article. deeceevoice 18:55, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I don't object to the removal of the "radical Afrocentrism" section. I don't think it belongs there. Perhaps toward the end we need a "criticisms of Afrocentrism" section, which can include brief mention of Afrocentric rebuttals. However, I would please like be given a link to something indicating that it is a generally accepted fact among scholars in the field that ancient Egyptians were black. I hope they were! That'd be neat to know! But I'd like to see it, please. Babajobu
Well again, we're back to the question as to its encyclopedic notability. I find the above excerpts from the essay quite interesting, and in general, I really did not know much about these debates before I encountered this article (I still don't know much, but I know more than I did before). But what is again crucial for the NPOV nature of the article is how the majority of critical scholars respond to Asante's points, what sort of arguments do they use to 'debunk' these. Whether these arguments (or coutner-arguments) make sense is not an issue and is for the reader to decide. What is key is that we outline the respective views fairly, and at the same time, representatively. El_C 22:06, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Big Changes

I changed the organization of the article, including removing "radical Afrocentrism" altogether and trying to incorporate that into criticism/rebuttal sections toward the end of the article. I also added a section on specific areas of disagreement in the historical record between Afrocentrists and traditional historians. I'm sure you all will find things that need to be corrected or reverted, but I think most of what I did is sound.

I also tried to get rid of what seemed to be to a "hot" tone in much of the article, some of it needlessly denigrating Afrocentrists and some of it needlessly denigrating those scholars who have disagreed with Afrocentric scholarship. No matter how hot-under-the-collar some participants in the historical debate may get, and no matter what sinister motives they may attribute to those with whom they disagree, we really should just ignore the overwrought emotions that some of the participants may have and concentrate on figuring out what the scholarly consensus is. Babajobu 20:50, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Well, based on a very cursory glance, your revisions do not appear to sufficiently highlight how the ideas and claims made by Afrocentric shcolars are generally viewed in the critical scholarship. Without establishing this, the article cannot be NPOV. Perhaps I should forward this dispute to other channels: I really don't know enough about it and I think we can benefit from the paricipation of additonal editors who possess some familiarity with the subject. El_C 22:06, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)
That's fine...I'd be interested in getting an assessment on the scholarly consensus here. I certainly am not the one to offer it. However, my understanding is that the predominance of Afrocentric scholarship is not devoted to advancing crackpot claims of the cognitive advantages of people possessing more Melanin, or whatever. I think that's only the fringe of Afrocentric scholarship. I think it would be a shame to have a Wikipedia article on "Afrocentrism" that attacked a strawman caricature of that term. Efforts to fill lacunae in the historical record by restoring the African component of human history to a more approporiate level...I think that also is classified as "Afrocentrism." Because we are talking about a historical profession that for centuries almost exclusively comprised white men. The fact that they produced work that disproportionately emphasized the contributions of white men like themselves doesn't mean they were bad people, it means they were human and typical of historians in most parts of the world. Do you think the historians of Ming China put Africans or Europeans at the heart of their histories? Of course not. They put Chinese men there. But it's a new world now, and we need to produce a universal human history, and I think Afrocentric historical work is part of that. Anyway, if we can get more informed opinion, I'm all for it. Babajobu 22:26, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)
I am not making –nor have I ever made– any moral value judgmants here. Sure, everyone is for an objective account of (world and otherwise) history. I submitted a content dispute RfC which reads: Need help in establishing how the critical scholarship tends to view claims made by Afrocentric scholars. Few participants are familliar with this topic, except for one editor who is markedly on the Afrocentric side. I believe it is a fair enough assessment that all parties can agree to. Again, I have no strong opinion either way, I am simply unfamilliar with the subject, but it should be evident, I think, that this issue especially is key one, and that it remains outstanding. El_C 22:36, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Yeah, I agree with you. The RfC's a good idea. I wasn't trying to say that you had done anything wrong, I was just giving my own rationale for the edits I made. Babajobu 22:42, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Good, obviously I have a problem with the underrepresentation of Africa in academia – it is a very real (and acute) problem of which I am all too aware (though in other, and I argue more pressing ways, than ancient history), first hand. I would not have authored the Great empires and their impact section otherwise (which is largely outside of my expertise, too, though not so much as ancient history). But, again, I cannot make out how social-scientific consensus regards Afrocentric ancient historical claims. We could certainly use all the help we can get on this front. El_C 23:46, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)
while not deleting anything, I restord several important items regarding Afrocentrism. This is because, by and large, Afrocentrism is generally not taken seriously as a scholarly endeavor. Sure, some are concerned with "paradigm shift," but the majority cast doubt on their method of inquiry and the conclusions they arrive at. These criticisms need to be there to reflect that. Also, I deleted the various "Dr." titles from Afrocentrists, as they are extraneous. You don't see that List of historians for example, so why add the titles here? Is this an attempt to make them seem more credible? Wareware 04:20, 11 Feb 2005 (UTC)

After skimming, some overall comments

I still haven't really read the section that treats Songhay, Mali, etc. (I guess because it still really galls me that subject matter I studied routinely 30 years ago is still largely ignored.) But, frankly, I don't see why it's included. This is not, after all, an article on African history. It seems to me, though important in an overall sense, superfluous to this discussion -- at lesat in such detail. Further, it needs to be cleaned up. One of the first things I notice is a subject-verb disagreement. deeceevoice

Let me get this straight: you skimmed it?(!) But we are supposed to read your much lengthier diatribes here? And based on that skimming you don't think it's topical? Well, some minor defintional details: Afrocentrism does not seem to be limited to ancient history, regardless whether 'you' have studied it or not. It is defined as [c]entered or focused on Africa or African peoples, especially in relation to historical or cultural influence, period. And the section I authored is very much in tune with that historically broader meaning of the term. And it is phrased in far less propagandist terms than much of the remaining article. Furthermore, if you see grammatical errors whilst skimming, why don't you correct them. I may have erred in skimming, too, in this article, but I still did not call to attention the grammatical errors I encountered, I just cleaned it. Lastly, we will see what editors end up deciding is superfleous. What an irony it is that more recent contributions by Africans are discarded in the name of one branch of Afrocentrism to highlight more ancient history. It truly blows my mind. Please don't skim this comment. El_C 09:48, 11 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Because there's no point in reworking something that's poorly worded if I don't think it should be included in the first place. That's why! Hopefully, it'll either be paired down or deleted. My, my. Defensive aren't we *chuckling*. But by calling attention to the grammatical error -- and the entire section could use some work, syntax-wise -- those who do think it of merit will, perhaps, take the cue and make it a little more serviceable. I merely mentioned ancient Egypt and didn't go into gold and slaves, etc., etc., etc. And that is my point here. This is not an article on African history, but a specific approach to its study and elucidation. Sorry your mind is so easily, uh ... "blown." deeceevoice 11:17, 11 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Because there's no point in reworking something that's poorly worded if I don't think it should be included in the first place.
Of course, you, I think that is more than self-evident at this point. With great humility, grace, and good manners, as always. No, this is an article about Afrocentrism: the term, not just the historical Afrocentric scholarship. It might me be of benefit for you to pick up a dictionary and look it up (you don't need to, I already cited it above -- perhaps you only skimmed it). Secondly, there is nothing wrong with providing context to what has been neglected in academia with regards to African civilizations' history. If it's so poorly worded, why don't you clean it. If it's totally irrelavent, why have'nt you deleted it (yes, I know, skimming). Keep on *chuckling* keep on with the sarcasm and the insults, we'll see how far it will get you. And continue to be 'defensive' of your own version of the article which treats Afrocentrism as a term too narrowly, by only addressing how it has been treated by Afrocentric scholars viz. ancient history. As if Afrocentrism is –only– limited to the scholars you are (outright) espousing and their study of ancient history and nothing else. El_C 13:07, 11 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Second, it seems to me the section on specific criticisms of Afrocentrism simply restates in a wordier manner the last paragraph (if I recall correectly) of the section on criticism -- which it seems to me should be nenamed to reflect the fact that it presents the views of Afrocentrists and their supporters, as well as their detractors. deeceevoice

If the theories are generally disputed the article is going to reflect that. It will not be a battle of wits with each side trying to make their half superceed the other. In the first place, it is an irony that a person such as myself would unwittingly be forced into the other, non-Afrocentric side (when in fact I have no strong opinion either way), only because your edits are so unbalanced in supprot of one side. And, fruthermore, I argue that you use your expertise in this field to skew the article in favour of Afrocentrics without attempting to offset it by its considerably more sizable opponents. Reading your original revision of the article, the reader may well think that the critical scholarship views Afrocentric scholars and their critics as equally plausible, which clearly does not seem to be the case. If it is the case, that is one of the items I asked to be provided here, repeatedly. Please don't skim this comment. El_C 09:48, 11 Feb 2005 (UTC)

My earlier edits were an attempt to impartially and reasonably intelligent state what Afrocentrism is and to characterize the viewpoint of its proponents without the constant sniping and some downright silly assertions of some of the earlier versions and then let the rest of the article deal with the criticisms of it. As it was, there WAS no sensible definition of the term -- what with all that vague, amorphous nonsense about "addressing the concerns" of this and that. The definition of it was damning in and of itself, because it placed the paradigm in a kind of emotional/subjective context right off the bat -- which was/is completely unacceptable. deeceevoice 11:17, 11 Feb 2005 (UTC)

They were not impartial, some of us here challenge. And, no, you seem to be preventing a 'sensible' definition of the term (as a social and not just that scholarly-specific phenomenon), and highlighting the merits of Afrocentric scholars to a far greater extent than their critics. What has been —and remains— unacceptable is the demeaning and condescending way in which you express yourself to other editors. You want to persist with innuendo, that's your preogrative. El_C 13:07, 11 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Finally (at least for purposes of this post:-p), the statement is made that "radical afrocentrists charge racism" or something of the sort. That is funny. Reputable historians (indeed, anyone pretty much with any common sense) of all ethnicities, across specialties widely acknowledge the role of racism in the Eurocentric skewing of history. That's certainly not a criticism that has been levelled by only "radical afrocentrists," or afrocentrists, or blacks, or "minorities." It's an accepted fact. Hell, the racism is evident in the writings of historians in statements made, judgments reached, in the selectivity and veracity of information presented. The very fact that European "scholars" looked at the black, monumental (literally) evidence of Nubia, Memphis, Karnak and then deliberately chose to portray Egyptian civilization as white or, at its darkest, some sort of Eurasian-Semitic mix is nothing but racism. Brit Basil Davidson scoffed disdainfully at European notions that Timbuktu had been built by some "wandering tribe" of Europeans, when there was absolutely no evidence of it -- merely the racist assumption that black Africans were too inherently backward and utterly incapable of doing so. I mean these m.f.'s actually wrote that kind of crap in their treatises! And then there's the fact that for centuries, world history courses (including the one I took when in school) began with Greece and Rome -- when the Egyptian imprint on Greco-Roman history is indelible (try as racist scholars might to expunge it). Eurocentric history is riddled with such blatant, purposeful omissions, obfuscations and outright lies. deeceevoice

Whether that is the case or not, we have to use the consensus in the critical scholarship as a basis, because we are writing an encyclopedia. I write on and accord due weight to a consensus in the critical scholarship that I find dead-wrong, and totally lacking in scientific merit. Qualifying it is fine, but there is a point where the qualifications turn into propaganda – even if I think that propaganda (in a positive sense) is more in par with the truth than the respective scholarly consensus, I am —and you have to be, too— bound by purpose of this project: an international encyclopedia. Please don't skim this comment. El_C 09:48, 11 Feb 2005 (UTC)

And there is a general consensus that traditional, Western historicism was blatantly racist. To write in a manner that implies only Afrocentrists have a problem with racist accounts of history -- as though they have some axe to grind about a problem that no one else sees is simply downright disingenuous. deeceevoice 11:17, 11 Feb 2005 (UTC)

It certainly would be (!). El_C 13:07, 11 Feb 2005 (UTC)

And the hilarious, amazingly absurd thing is that someone in this discussion feels somehow compelled to insert some thoroughly silly comment about how they weren't "bad people"! *chuckling* (Only a white guy!) WTF? (They were nice people, and their criticis are "overwrought." ROTFLMBAO.) deeceevoice

The pronouncedly unhilarious thing is that you would so grossly distort those comments which compare parochialism by white Europeans to other cultures such as the Chinese, etc., as somehow inherently racist. Your response above is out of proprtion to the comment made, it makes insulting insinuations, and it clearly goes beyond the realm of civility. I —again— urge you, nay, I demand that you cease immediately from making comments which violate Wikipedia's no personal attacks policy. By continuing to violate this policy you risk consequences which are as unpleasent as they are uneccessary. For someone who obviously is an educated person, your conduct on that front –that you don't see it defeats your own points– never ceases to baffle me. But I, and the other editors will not remain baffled indefinitely. That is not a threat, incidentally, its a final plea which reflects the exhaustion that I, and undoubtedly the other editors here feel towards such incivility. Please don't skim this comment. El_C 09:48, 11 Feb 2005 (UTC)
ROTFLMAO. "Nay, [you] DEMAND"!!! Thanks, El_C. Really. I can't remember when I've had such a good laugh whilst online. The fact of the matter is "parochialism" is far different from a pattern of blatant lies frontin' like "scholarship" in the service of white supremacy and imperialism. That's not an "oops, my bad" kinda thing. You want me bite my tongue and play nice? No, I won't. I have no more patience; it's been used up dealing with ignorance, arrogance, racism and some people's embattled sense of entitlement.
"Nay, [you] "demand." Day-um! *shakin' my head* That's part of the problem. *x* deeceevoice 11:17, 11 Feb 2005 (UTC)
I demand, as a condition of our discourse, which has now been terminated. As if Deeceevoice's obsesssion with proving the 'blackness' of ancient civilizations (true or not) is somehow at the heart of progressive anti-imperialist struggle(!). An utterly absurd, reactionary, and elitist notion, in my opinion. Somehow, s/he is the one who is entitled to lose patience, though, while attempting to single-handedly chart the direction of the article, with all its (crucially) nuanced emphases. All of that –regardless– if s/he is correct with his or her explicit claims in defence of ancient history-centred Afrocentric shcolarship. S/he has performed very poorly in explaining him or herself, with much bravado, lengthy copying of text (rather than more condensed, key exceprts) which could be linked and greatly clutters this talk page, chatroom exclamations that detracts rather than add to any colegial atmosphere, and with a great deal of intolerence towards, what in the worse of cases is mild prejudice that could be overcome with patience and mutual respect. Needless to say, highly lacking here throughout. El_C 13:07, 11 Feb 2005 (UTC)

But, frankly, who gives a damn, anyway? It is quite clear to any serious student of history that many of them simply -- and knowingly -- twisted "history" in the service of a white supremacist weltanschauung. You cannot tell us that those Europeans who looked upon the faces of King Menes and Tutankamun and Queen Tiye (nappy afro and all), who saw the wooly, braided, afro and dreadlocked wigs of Egyptian royalty; their pronounced, forward-slanting profiles; their full lips and broad cheekbones; their BLACK countenances, saw "Eurasian Semites." 1 deeceevoice

I don't know what they saw, because I never studied it (and frankly, in the scope of what I do study and write on with respect to 20th Century African history and current events –a subject utterly dominated by unfathomable, unimaginable tragedies, privations, and misery– I don't find it that important). You want passion, I have passion, too. About the genocide of six million people who died in the DRoC and the Sudan that has been taking place for the last half a decade. About how life expectancy in Mozambique had fallen from 58 yrs to 31 yrs from 1991-2003. So, again, I have just about had it with your "every serious history student" and the "[f]or those in denial or otherwise challenged." We each have our priorities, and our emphases. We need a more calm dialogue, more thoughtful and condensed generalizations, more context, and curcially, more intellectual honesty and less innuendo. That intellectual dishonesty should be combatted in kind is the real absurdity. And, honestly, this is how you are coming across here. I have tried to give you ample benefit of the doubt and goodfaith, and I am still willing to, but, again, not indefinitely. Please don't skim this comment. El_C 09:48, 11 Feb 2005 (UTC)
If you don't know, if you haven't read it, then put your ego and seemingly overblown sense of indignation aside and listen when someone says the way a piece is written gives an impression that is incorrect and prejudicial. The language about "radical Afrocentrists" charging racism -- like no one else ever has or does; that they do so because they're "radical" (unreasonable or ... fanatical) is garbage. It needs to be changed or deleted altogether. The charge of white supremacy and the paradigm being skewed toward Europe has already been made. deeceevoice 11:17, 11 Feb 2005 (UTC)
I have done nothing but tried to listen to deeceevoice, painstaikingly. No, s/he has no right, no right to speak an "ego and seemingly overblown sense of indignation," I have asked him/her for some frame of reference repeatedly, but have been provided instead largely with very limited, one-sided overview, which I find grossly insufficient. I have already addressed the problematic nature of "radical" viz. racism, perhaps deeceevoice overlooked it whilst skimming, but I actually largely agreed with him/her (which is why I hitherto asked whether such a claim has merit of notability, s/he said no, and that was good enough for me). Instead, we go around in circles, without a consistent (nor colegial) method. But I have tried a goodfaith approach, and the most cursory glance into this talk page demonstrates that clearly, I argue. El_C 13:07, 11 Feb 2005 (UTC)

But that is what they "recorded." Gee, (*thinking hard*) I don't know if they were "bad people" or not. And I couldn't give a flying f***. It is of absolutely no import. After all, they're long dead and long ago rotted to dust -- and they're certainly not coming to my place for a tête-a-tête; it ain't like we're gonna have tea. But what I do know is that they were a bunch of racist, lying bastards. And that's the point. deeceevoice 05:46, 11 Feb 2005 (UTC)

[Insreted after Wareware had written his comment bellow] I'm sorry, there comes a time when one needs to be firm. Please review closely the following policies:Wikipedia:No personal attacks, Wikipedia:Civility, Wikipedia:Wikipedia is not a soapbox, Wikipedia:Ownership of articles, Wikipedia:Assume good faith, Wikipedia:Writers rules of engagement, Wikipedia:Profanity, Wikipedia:Wikiquette, Wikipedia:Neutral point of view. El_C 09:48, 11 Feb 2005 (UTC)
These arguments go on and on and never end, http://www.geocities.com/enbp/ . So what's your point? You're the epitome of this whole afrocentric thinking, one focusing on the myth of ancient egypt. Also, I think it's perfectly fine to include the Mali and other African civilizations here, because they're no doubt African and often overlooked when talking about wolrd history. If you want to list some real African civilizations, then I don' know what's a better example than these. Also, this is from the book Afrocentrism by Stephen Howe, "European Egyptology, over a long period, accepted that the Egyptians were a mixed but largely African population...only a minority view insisted on their being 'white'". I don't get what's with your eurocentric/racist accusations. It seems that you're the one who's brainwashed. Wareware 06:04, 11 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Wareware, you're the epitome of opinionated ignorance. You already know full well I have no intention of engaging you in dialogue. I have nothing to say to the likes of you -- for reasons already stated in another discussion thread. deeceevoice 11:17, 11 Feb 2005 (UTC)
I think the value of the section on ancient empires (and I didn't write it) is that it indicates specific contributions that Afrocentrists have made to the historical record. This is also why I was interested in looking for confirmation of a scholarly consensus that ancient Egyptians were phenotypically "black." I was in Egypt for a few weeks and was given some tours by a local (Arab) Egyptologist, and the assumption he left me with was that ancient Egyptians were part of what basically amounted to an ethnic "Berber belt" from Egypt all the way across North Africa to the Canary Islands. And as I said, I think this is a common assumption. If it's false, and ancient Egyptians looked more "Nubian" than "Berber," we should get that in there as another example of a matter on which Afrocentrists have made scholarly contributions. I disagree with the revert to the quotation about Afrocentrism being "essentially therapeutic." This is degrading to Afrocentrists, and, I think, to people of African ancestry generally. Babajobu 08:21, 11 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Perhaps I missed it, but it seemded to me the paragraph dealt with the already very well covered civilizations of Mali, Dahomey(?), Songhay, the Ile-Ife and Nok cultures, etc. Basil Davidson and scholars of his time actually did an excellent job of illuminating those areas of African history. Much of what I know of them I read in the 1960s -- before the time of the scholars currently under discussion. Afrocentric scholars who have written of these civilizations/cultures have added to the body of knowledge, but not overturned (to my knowledge) any fundamentally incorrect "scholarship" on the subject. (And, no, I do not -- and have never claimed -- to have "expertise" in this field. I simply know more than the average person. And that, apparently, isn't a whole hell of a lot.)
And, yes, I've skimmed. I've got work to do. deeceevoice 11:17, 11 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Very well covered(!?) With a great measure of irony: it is –not– very well covered time/space-wise in this encylopedia, actually. Much, much less so than European issues, for example (a 'Eurocentrism' which I am astonished Deeceevoice overlooks so lightly). Still, I have no problem with deleting it (just to prove that I am not 'attached' to it, as Deeceevoice suggests), but I will not concede my more fundamental point in this regard (that this should not be an ancient history-specific article). So I am deleting it. If Deeceevoice feel it has merit, s/he can reinstate it, and make whatever modifications to it s/he sees fit. El_C 13:07, 11 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Deceevoice, that's fine that you think that non-Afrocentrist historians are "racist, lying bastards." I'm not even disagreeing with you. My own interest is transplant nephrology, and I think mainstream transplant nephrologists are duplicitous, avaricious barbarians. But the wikipedia entry on nephrology cannot reflect my view, because my view does not reflect the scholarly nephrological consensus. In twenty years, when the consensus is that non-Afrocentrist historians were all racist liars and that traditional transplant nephrologists were charlatans, then you and I will have our day. Until then, we must deal with the fact that Wikipedia, as an encyclopedia, reflects mainstream knowledge rather than our own, more refined understanding. Babajobu 08:45, 11 Feb 2005 (UTC)
We don't need to agree or disagree with it. It is one of the criticisms made by scholars against the approach. El_C 09:48, 11 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Clearly, many historians question the motivation of Afrocentrists, and disagree with their conclusions. But there are lots of ways to state this. I think the quote that describes Afrocentrism as "essentially therapeutic" expresses an aggressiveness that is not an essential part of the scholarly objections to Afrocentrism. Babajobu 11:06, 11 Feb 2005 (UTC)
The structural changes I made no longer make sense with the reverted content. If we're going to keep the section titled "Criticisms of Afrocentrism," then the content of that section should be general criticisms rather than criticisms and rebuttals. The rebuttals should be entered in the section of that title. More specific, factual disagreements should be entered in the section of that title. But right now we have a "criticsms" section, a "rebuttals" section and a "specific areas of disagreement" section, but each section contains a hodgepodge of content. Babajobu 09:07, 11 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Yes, the sectional structure is a mess, but as my lengthy comments above illustrate, it is a product of more fundamental problems. El_C 09:48, 11 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Added an external link to a fascinating abstract at the National Library of Medicine. Was surprised to see Afrocentricity discussed in a peer-reviewed medical journal! Babajobu 15:16, 11 Feb 2005 (UTC)

The Importance of Taking a Chill Pill

Deeceevoice, I implore you to take a chill pill. I haven't been around Wikipedia very long, and its protocol is just as unnatural to me as it also still seems to be to you. I'm contrary and argumentative by nature, and never happier than when casting aspersions at the motivation and character of people who disagree with me. But unfortunately for both of us that is not how encyclopedias are made. If you keep up the dinner-table ranting and mocking of your collaborators on this article, the talkpage will be more fun to read, but the Afrocentrism article will be a piece of crap. So please, in the interests of bringing a knowledge of Afrocentrism to the benighted masses who have so little appreciation of Afrocentric contributions, take that chill pill. Wikipedia:No personal attacks, Wikipedia:Civility, Wikipedia:Wikipedia is not a soapbox, Wikipedia:Ownership of articles, Wikipedia:Assume good faith, Wikipedia:Writers rules of engagement, Wikipedia:Profanity, Wikipedia:Wikiquette, Wikipedia:Neutral point of view Babajobu 11:43, 11 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Ethiopia

Is the omission of Ethiopia from the lists of Arican polities at the beginning of this article an oversight? Or are there reasons why this nation & its history is not included as one of the subjects studied? -- llywrch 18:47, 11 Feb 2005 (UTC)

If Ethiopia is a topic studied by Afrocentrists, then put it in, Llywrch. -- Babajobu 19:25, 11 Feb 2005 (UTC)
I honestly don't know whether it is or not; it would be strange if it wasn't. That's why I asked. -- llywrch 22:41, 11 Feb 2005 (UTC)
I don't know, either, Llywrch. But I agree with you that it seems like it would be. Babajobu 08:43, 12 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Afrocentric shcolarship: let's try this again

Hopefuly the following list of works will get us one step closer towards getting an historiographically balanced article with respects to Afroecentric scholarship; and hopefuly these will also prove useful to address the two opposite concerns — the argument against Afrocentric scholarship's vilification posed by DC, and the argument against its overrepresentation as and/or vs. scholarly consensus, as posed by WW. [I am not familliar with the contents of any of these. List's order is random as per the search querry - sadly, few were linkable at the source]:

  • Molefi Kete Asante, "In search of an Afrocentric historiography," Congress International d'estudis Africans, Barcelona, Jan 12-15, 2004. PDF
  • Walker, Clarence E. We Can't Go Home Again: An Argument about Afrocentrism(Oxford University Press, 2000)
  • Marry R. Lefkowitz, "Teaching Ancient History Through Controversy," The Occasional Papers of the American Philological Association's Committee on Ancient History 1 (2002) 14–26 PDF
  • W. C. Banks. "The theoretical and methodological crisis of Afrocentric conception," Journal of Negro Education, 61 (3), 1992, 262-272.
  • Kwame Appiah, "Europe Upside Down: Fallacies of the New Afrocentrism," repreinted in Times Literary Supplement, 1993.
  • Collins, P. H. Black feminist thought: Knowledge, consciousness and the politics of empowerment. (Unwin Hyman, Boston, 1990)
  • Molefi Kete Asante, The Afrocentric Idea Revised and Expanded Edition overview
  • J. S. D. Dei, "Knowledge and politics of social change: the implication of anti-racism." British Journal of Sociology of Education, 20 (3), 395-409.
  • Giddings, G. J., "Infusion of Afrocentric content into the school curriculum," Journal of Black Studies, 31 (4), 2001, 462-482.
  • C. D. Lee, K. Lomotey and M. Shujaa, "How shall we sing our sacred song in a strange land? The dilemma of double consciousness and the complexities of an african-centred pedagogy." Journal of Education, 172 (2), 2001, 45-60.
  • Asante, M. K. Afrocentricity: The theory of social change. (Amulefi, NY, 1980).
  • Milam, J. H. The emerging paradigm of Afrocentric research methods. (Association for the Study of Higher Education, 1992).
  • Ruth Reviere Rethinking Open and distance Education Practices: Barriers to Learning PDF
  • Nobles, W. W. African psychology: Toward its reclamation, reascension and revitalization. (Institute for the Advanced Study of Black Family Life and Culture, Oakland, CA, 1986).
  • E. Oliver, "An Afrocentric approach to literature: Putting the pieces back together," English Journal, 77 (5), 1988, 49-53.
  • Ruth Reviere, "Towards an Afrocentric research methodology." Journal of Black Studies, 31 (6), 2001, 709-728.
  • Myers, Linda James. Understanding an Afrocentric world view : introduction to an optimal psychology (Kendall/Hunt Pub. Co., 1993)
  • Richard M. Huber, "Contending Viewpoints: Rethinking American Cultural Studies," Journal of American & Comparative Cultures, Vol. 24 Isssue 3-4, 2001, 37-
  • Asante, Molefi K. Afrocentricity (Africa World Press, 1988)
  • Mills, Charles W. Blackness visible : essays on philosophy and race (Cornell University Press, 1998).

El_C 06:40, 12 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I'm reading Not out of Africa by Mary Leftkowitz and Afrocentrism by Stephen Howe right now. Leftkowitz's book is relatively narrow as it mainly focuses on debunking various claims of Afrocentrism, namely, how the greeks stole their knowledge from the mythicl egypt. Howe's book is more encompassing as it describes the origin, pscyhology, profiles on almost every afrocentrist, and why it persists. Both books don't really shine well on afrocentric scholarship. Wareware 07:28, 12 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Of course, though, Wareware, they are both notable critics of Afrocentric scholarship. Do you plan to read any of the works by the more notable Afrocentric scholars, such as Asante though? Don't you have mid-terms to attend to, anyway? ;) El_C 07:45, 12 Feb 2005 (UTC)
my midterms are done this week thx for asking:) But I still got lots to do but I'll try to contribute. I don't think I'm going to devote my time reading pro-afrocentric works, especially by Asante. I'll read about his positions and reasoning from criticial sources. I can't really trust Asante because he wrote that Aristotle studied at the Library of Alexandria and appropriated egyptian philosophy, while in reality the library was built after both Alexander's and Aristotle's death. Mary Leftkowitz challenged him in this point during a seminar at Wellsely and Asante refused to cite his sources or how he arrived at this conclusion and instead accused her of racist motives. That alone pretty much persuaded me not to read any afrocentric work. But the book by Howe is pretty valuable in that it presents the origin and reasoning, not just point-by-point refutation, so I'll read that and find something. Wareware 09:57, 12 Feb 2005 (UTC)

-- "Ancient Egypt’s Role in European History"

A link of possible interest: http://www.trinicenter.com/kwame/20010615c.htm

Note that Prof. Nantambu is a history professor at Kent State U. -- not some "radical" crackpot publishing vanity tracts using Publish-It in his basement. deeceevoice 10:36, 12 Feb 2005 (UTC)

It's already a given that Afrocentric scholars are scholars. Whether they are radical –in the positive or negative sense of the word– is not relevanet to the fact that they write scholarly works, publish articles in academic journals, hold professorial positions and instruct students; none of these things are being –nor had they come under– dispute here. El_C 10:58, 12 Feb 2005 (UTC)

And to say that is to say what? You asked for evidence of support for Afrocentric views among scholars. Presumably, the list of scholars and academicians provided in the article was insufficient. So, as I come across support for such views in mainstream academia (this is not a concerted/focused endeavor), I'm inserting that info in the discussion. I mention "radical," because this article -- unfortunately -- has lapsed back into the same vague language about "radical" Afrocentrism. (I have deleted references, when I saw them, to "black supremacy" and may do so again w/regard to the "radical" business.) Since this article discounts "radical" Afrocentrism outright without even defining it in any acceptable manner, I have no idea what "qualifies" someone to comment on, presumably, mainstream garden-variety Afrocentrism. I mention Nantambu's credentials because, presumably, the man has some credibility; he's on the faculty of a fairly mainstream U.S. university with a strong reputation -- which, to my way of thinking, means he's not some crackpot "radical" Afrocentrist. If, however, you would like to define the precepts of "radical Afrocentrism" in mainstream academia so as to provide some guidance to us regarding who does or doesn't have sufficient credibility to support or debunk the Afrocentric approach to the study of history, have at it. deeceevoice 05:59, 13 Feb 2005 (UTC)

No, not merely among scholars, but what is generally considered to be the –consensus– among them regarding Afrocentric scholarship (or notable currents therein). That is what I asked for, repeatedly. Regardless how well-respected they might be within academia, their views may still be marganalized within the mainstream scholarship, and in that case, the article needs to reflect that. I will get this point across even if ... I will get this point across. El_C 10:57, 13 Feb 2005 (UTC)
racist, white supremacist assumptions regarding the contributions of nonwhite peoples to world history. What's this, a strawman attack that makes all Western research "white supremacist"? You gotta be kidding me. Renaissance, the Enlightenment, nationalism and related ideas and philosophies are western ideas, so what's so "white supremacist" about it. I don't think any Chinese person that I've talked to regard history as white supremacist or Eurocentric at best. Saying so is rather vitriolic. Wareware 03:03, 13 Feb 2005 (UTC)

What's with the teeny, weeny print?

Why is the bibliography in a smaller font than the rest of the piece? (Am I suddenly in need of bifocals?) Is this Wiki style? deeceevoice 06:00, 13 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Many things; appearence; possibly; sure. El_C 07:43, 13 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Come on. Serious question. The bifocals thing was facetious, of course; I can read it fine. But why is the print a different size? IS it Wiki style? I haven't noticed it elsewhere. If not, it should be changed. deeceevoice 08:16, 13 Feb 2005 (UTC)

The Wiki is loose, so these sort of modifications are considered to be within the realm of editorial discretion (rather than a binding manual of style formula). I find using footnote-sized font for the references to be of some minor cosmetic benefit when these are lengthy reference lists, which tends to be the case for articles I am involved in. Since I was the one who created the references section and added all the scholarly works into it (i.e. with normal fonts it was disporportionately lengthy versus the body of the article), it reflects my preference on this front. El_C 10:45, 13 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Cool. This explanation was at least helpful. I've got no problem with it. In light of the other articles I've seen on Wiki, it just looked weird. deeceevoice 13:52, 13 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Deleted

Areas of study by Afrocentrists

Afrocentric history traces and emphasizes important contributions of blacks, beginning with the high civilizations of Africa, particularly Egypt and Kush. It also focuses on black, or Tamil, southern India before the Persian incursions, as well as on the black African participation in the Moorish domination of the Iberian peninsula during the Middle Ages— and, among others, on the sizable empires of Ghana, Mali, and Songhai.

The introductory definition mentions "black contributions." Listing these specific areas of interest, I think, gives the wrong impression; it is too limiting. There are Afrocentric scholars (in terms of the lens through which they interpret history) who focus on black contributions throughout history and across the globe -- and in the modern era, as well. I think it's best to simply leave this out. If there is a desire to mention these areas of focus (and I can see that it could be useful to do so), it should be included in the article in another fashion -- one that won't give the false impression that these are the only areas of study, or even the primary, areas of study/expertise of Afrocentric historians. That is simply not the case. deeceevoice 08:24, 13 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I have no objections to that change as such, but that section should exist with a more pertinent account regarding areas of studies (at least some of the more notable current therein – déjà vu). El_C 11:06, 13 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Objectivity

There are ways to cover this topic without collapsing into Deeceevoice's compulsive, Tourette's-ish need to pile on descriptions of omnipresent white racism (prejudicial evil racist white supremacist bigotry paradigms, and so forth), and also to avoid the sort of scoffing condescension of some of the rest of the article ("contempt" and "dismissiveness" toward a "therapeutic" ideology). The Encarta Africana article on Afrocentricity is written by Molefi Kete Asante and I think he provides an excellent descriptive account that people from most perspectives could agree upon. I think we should use that as a sort of guide. If you guys don't have access to it, I'll provide an excerpt here that I think is "fair use." This is the "Origins and Orientations" section of the article. Have a read. Babajobu 15:25, 13 Feb 2005 (UTC)

II ORIGINS AND ORIENTATIONS

"Afrocentricity is an intellectual perspective deriving its name from the centrality of African people and phenomena in the interpretation of data. Maulana Karenga, a major figure in the Afrocentric Movement, says, “It is a quality of thought that is rooted in the cultural image and human interest of African people.” The Afrocentric school was founded by Molefi Kete Asante in the late 20th century with the launching of the book, Afrocentricity, in which theory and practice were merged as necessary elements in a rise to consciousness. Among the early influences were Kariamu Welsh, Abu Abarry, C.T. Keto, Linda James Myers, J. A. Sofola, and others. Afrocentricity examined some of the same issues that confronted a group calling themselves the Black Psychologists, who argued along lines established by Bobby Wright, Amos Wilson, Na’im Akbar, Kobi Kambon, Wade Nobles, Patricia Newton, and several others. African American scholars trained in political science and sociology, such as Leonard Jeffries, Tony Martin, Vivian Gordon, Kwame Nantambu, Barbara Wheeler, James Turner, and Charshee McIntyre, were greatly influenced by the works of Yosef Ben-Jochannon and John Henrik Clarke and had already begun the process of seeking a non-European way to conceptualize the African experience prior to the development of Afrocentric theory.

"On the other hand, Afrocentricity finds its inspirational source in the Kawaida philosophy’s long-standing concern that the cultural crisis is a defining characteristic of 20th century African reality in the diaspora just as the nationality crisis is the principal issue on the African continent. (Developed by Karenga, professor and chair of the Department of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach, Kawaida is defined briefly as “an ongoing synthesis of the best of African thought and practice in constant exchange with the world.”) Afrocentricity sought to address these crises by repositioning the African person and African reality from the margins of European thought, attitude, and doctrines to a centered, therefore positively located, place within the realm of science and culture. Afrocentricity finds its grounding in the intellectual and activist precursors who first suggested culture as a critical corrective to a displaced agency among Africans. Recognizing that Africans in the diaspora had been deliberately deculturalized and made to accept the conqueror’s codes of conduct and modes of behavior, the Afrocentrist discovered that the interpretative and theoretical grounds had also been moved. Thus, synthesizing the best of Alexander Crummel, Martin Robison Delany, Edward Wilmot Blyden, Marcus Garvey, Paul Robeson, Anna Julia Cooper, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Larry Neal, Carter G. Woodson, Willie Abraham, Frantz Fanon, Malcolm X, Cheikh Anta Diop, and W. E. B. Du Bois in his later writings, Afrocentricity projects an innovation in criticism and interpretation. It is therefore in some sense a paradigm, a framework, and a dynamic. However, it is not a worldview and should not be confused with Africanity, which is essentially the way African people, any African people, live according to the customs, traditions, and mores of their society. One can be born in Africa, follow African styles and modes of living, and practice an African religion and not be Afrocentric. To be Afrocentric one has to have a self-conscious awareness of the need for centering. Thus, those individuals who live in Africa and recognize the decentering of their minds because of European colonization may self-consciously choose to be demonstratively in tune with their own agency. If so, this becomes a revolutionary act of will that cannot be achieved merely by wearing African clothes or having an African name."

Babajobu 15:25, 13 Feb 2005 (UTC)


I certainly do not think that Asante's account should form the basis of this article. For a start, its comments at the end about 'the need for centring' seem to correspond to the claims of those whio say that Afrocentrism is theraputic in character. Secondly it is entirely dogmatic in tone.
As a matter of fact it was me who created this page. I was surprised by the fact that it remained unassailed by Afrocentrist contributers for so long. Initially my account of Afrocentrism was more or less the same as the 'Skeptic Dictionary's. A later contributer then redefined this component as Radical Afrocentrism, adding the section on Historical Afrocentrism. I was not entirely happy about this, since it seemed to imply that anyone who studied African history was 'Afrocentrist'. That's as logical as saying that specialist in European history is automatically 'Eurocentrist', or a specialist in Chinese history is 'Sinocentrist'. However, it seemed proper to accept that scholarship looking at African history was an important corrective to over-emphasis of Europe. Then along came Mr deceevoice, and we've had an explosion of intemperate revisions over the last week. The result, I think, is that the page is in a bit of a mess with arguments becoming repetitive and confused. So for example we learn about Afrocentrists stressing the 'contributions' of African cultures, and then there is the claim that Afrocentrists consider all cultures to be 'equal'. Well, if that's the case, why concentrate on Africa, and why claim that special 'contributions' have been made?
I think we should bear in mind a simple fact. This is supposed to be an encyclopedia. The purpose of an Encyclopedia is to inform. If someone wants to know what the term 'Afrocentrism' means they should be able to come here, look it up and get a clear idea of its history and meaning. As a result they should be given a sense of what the term means in its various usages. So I will make a number of suggestions here about what I think should be in the article.
1. We need a clear definition of Afrocentrism as an approach to history that emphasises African contributions to culture. I think it would be useful to add a section that connects this to claims about black identity, pointing out that the concept of 'black' identity is sometimes used to include non-Africans, and sometimes excludes some Africans.
2. I think we need a clear discussion of the importance given to Egypt in much Afrocentrist writing. This is central to the debate, since much of it really concerns the question of what it means to say that Egyptians are or are not 'black'. We could discuss the issue of how justifiable it is to claim that Egyptians were 'black African', and what it means to equate Egypt with African rather than Mediterranean or Middle-Eastern cultural identity.
3. We need an account of the role of Afrocentrism in the thinking of people like Asante who associate it with racial politics in the USA and with issues of Black Identity and cultural consciousness.
4. We need an account of work that has stressed the history of African kingdoms and has looked at other indigenous African cultures, peerhaps contasting this with histories that see Africa as simply a 'space' into which Greek, Roman or Arabic history has expanded. Paul B 16:17, 13 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Sir, we really needed you here. Where have you been? I am very pleased to learn of your involvement and expertise with regards to Afrocentrism, and I think your participation will prove pivotal in offsetting bias and imporving the article on this and other (content, context, etc.) important areas. El_C 01:48, 14 Feb 2005 (UTC)

How Afrocentricism portrays itself and other isms

I think there a POV error underlying this article.

shift from a view of world history centered around European accomplishments and deeply racist assumptions about other peoples and cultures to one which emphasizes the black beginnings of humankind and black contributions to world history

I think the article should stress more clearly that this evaluation of Western scholarship is merely the point of view of Afrocentrism advocates - rather than hinting or stating that it is a fact.

Something like this ought to do it:

  • Afrocentrists view Western historical scholarship as overemphasizing the contributions of Greco-Roman civilization to the world at the expense of the contributions of black Africa and blacks generally.

Both Afrocentrists and anti-Afrocentrists could agree with the sentence above as being an accurate portrayal of how Afrocentric scholar view Western scholars. "Yep, that's how they see us." & "Yes, that's how they are."

I'd also like to see a bit about Western defenses of this criticism, for example the claim occasionally made that the West is somewhat aware of its own ethnocentrism and has taken pains to compensate for it - indeed, even to seek out and embrace aspects of non-Western cultures. One historion (Toynbee, I think) even claims this quest to find and cherish extra-cultural aspects as the crowning jewel of the Western ethos: the relentless, un-ending quest of Western Civilization to become "better" by seeking "the good".

Also, I'm not sure that the West portrays itself as the origin of all world civilization. The British historian Arnold Toynbee admittedly begins with England, but only as an example of a larger entity he calls "Western Christendom". He finds two dozen other similar units, separated in both space and time, and endeavors to trace how some (not all!) derive from others.

Toynbee traces only a couple of the existent world civilizations to ancient Greece and Rome, by the way. Only Western Christendom and the Eastern Orthodox cultural spheres, if I recalll correctly. The Islamic and Hindu cultural spheres owe nothing to the Hellenistic sphere; nor do the one or two East Asian cultural spheres.

Ironically, Toynbee views ancient Egypt as having no predecessors or successors. I wonder how current Afrocentric thought reacts to that. Do today's afrocentrists believe that ancient Egpyt was the orgion of all civilization, or even had a major impact on any of the four or five civilizations in existence at the close of the 20th century? -- Uncle Ed (talk) 20:10, Feb 14, 2005 (UTC)

The problem here, I think, is the difficulty of defining such things as 'the West'. Traditionally, Egypt has been part of the story of the cultures we now define as 'the West'. It's central to the Bible. It's been part of the history of Roman Empire, of famous stories about Pharaohs, about Antony and Cleopatra, Rameses, and later about Hatshepsut and Akhenaton. But it just happens that its not in 'Europe' as such, and, as importantly, it has never been considered to be 'classical' - in culture, politics or religous ideology. Egypt is presented as a fascinating but also problematic place. Its religion is condemned in the Bible for its polytheism, and in Greek texts for its perverse deification of animals. In intellectual culture it's seen as the source of wisdom, but not of properly philosophical debate. In architecture its admired for impressive monuments, but for also for a lack of the refinement and clarity of Greek design. In art it's impressive for its decorative energy and variety, but not for its perfect articulation of the human body as in... those darn Greek geeks again. In other words, it's always been a kind of source, and something of a mystery, but also a problem in the models that have dominated the mythic history of 'the West'. The fact that this paradxical position has now come to be articulated in terms of uncertantis regarding 'racial' and 'continental' identity (Africa/Europe/Asia) simply complicates matters further. -- Paul B 21:29, Feb 14, 2005 (UTC)
But it won't be a fair article if it dosen't state the Afrocentric position as to the after-the-fact Westernization of Egypt. Also, the West was explcitly racist for many centuries. That is not an opinion, it is a matter of public record. The article needs to distinguish this fact from Afrocentric claims of it taking place after 1968, or whenever it was that the United States officially decided that Africans were equale to non-Africans. And to pretend that once this became formal, opinions changed instantly to reflect that, I maintain, is a disengenious implication which, for the purposes of NPOV and rationality, the article needs to either avoid or (preferably) very carfeuly and thoughtfuly qualify. El_C 08:13, 15 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Yes, that position should be stated. I'm working on a new version now, but it's important to state that Egypt was not in any clear sense 'Westernised' after the fact or 'appropriated' by some entity called the West. The 'West' is a cultural construct not a geographical position. For Ancient peoples Egypt was very clearly part of the civilised world, which circulated the Mediterranean. There was no strong division betwen 'Europe' and 'Africa', but rather a notion that the Med, as its name suggests, was the middle of the world and that cultures got less civilised the further they were from it. Race was not a significant concept. In this model Egyptian culture is considered eccentric, at least during the Roman empire, but important. I think after the fall of Rome and the rise of Islam you do get a Europe/Africa divide articulated in terms of religion not race, but also the beginnings of a racialisation of the enemy as 'dark' Moors.-- Paul B 09:35, Feb 15, 2005 (UTC)
True, I oversimplified that. You articulated that phenomenon in a very interesting and pointed way. I'm looking forward to reading your revision of the article. El_C 09:51, 15 Feb 2005 (UTC)
With the word "racist" so inflammatory, and even the Race article a subject of dispute at Wikipedia, I think we should take care to describe in what way Afrocentrists or others regard the history of Europe or "the West" as racist. For example, did Europeans state that being white was what made them better? Or that some aspect of European culture or Western civilization was superior? It might also be good to explore this dimension in relation to the possibility that other cultures may have expressed similar notions. Specifically, to what degree might we say that ALL cultures are racist? -- Uncle Ed (talk) 18:30, Feb 15, 2005 (UTC)

Definition of Beginnings

Intro paragraph includes this:

Afrocentric scholarship attempts to shift the study and evaluation of world history and civilization from a traditionally Western, Eurocentric paradigm — that is, one that treats primarily white or European contributions and positing Greco-Roman beginnings — to one that posits black Egyptian beginnings and treats primarily black Africa and black contributions.

I don't know what (a) "posits Greco-Roman beginnings" or (b) "posits black Egyptian beginnings" means. It looks like a claim that ALL CIVILIZATION began with (a) ancient Greece & Rome or (b) ancient Egypt. Is that what everyone else thinks this means?

If so, I'm not sure this is a fair representation of the conflict between Afrocentrists and others. But I must confess my ignorance: the only world history book I've ever made a serious attempt at reading was Toynbee's A Study of History, in which he traces Western Civilization (currently centering on Europe and the U.S.) to Greco-Roman beginnings. But apart from Eastern Orthodoxy he does not attribute any other extant civilization to Greece or Rome. In particular, he claims that the Islamic Sphere, the Hindu Sphere and the Far Eastern Sphere developed independently of the Graeco-Roman Empire (or Hellenic Sphere, as he terms it). -- Uncle Ed (talk) 19:04, Feb 15, 2005 (UTC)

I think we should definitely change it. Plus remove that quote by Rousseau. Is this guy an art historian? I don't think so. Picking quotes left and right (from credible figures) to make the argument more credible is really off the mark here. And yes, I have a problem with previous POV edits that treats eurocentrism with afrocentrism precisely for the reason that Tonybee claims the other "spheres" developed independently. In the opening paragraph it states it treat "world history" through Eurocentric lens, thus there is a shift toward Afrocentric ones. That just doesn't make much sense at all. Wareware 21:42, 15 Feb 2005 (UTC)
I don't know if Toynbee is representative of "Eurocentric" thought, but in his Study of History he self-identifies as Western; e.g., he calls Western Civilization as "our culture" (referring to him and the reader).
Toynbee provides charts and dates, etc., showing that ancient Egypt is the first civilization in recorded history. I take this to mean that "Western" historians have no argument with the claim that Egypt predates Greece.
I suppose Western historians think the "West" is important, so they emphasize it in history books. But I haven't heard of any Western historian claiming that civilization itself began with ancient Greece or Rome. Toynbee never breathes the slightest hint of this idea.
I'm not sure to what extent Toynbee or others credit ancient Egypt with having influenced ancient Greece. Toynbee doesn't describe Hellenic Civ. as deriving wholly from Egypt, but I don't recall him denying any contacts in space or time.
A lot of the interplay between Afrocentrists and, er, competing schools of thought is the complaint that African or black "firsts" have not gotten enough publicity. Ancient Egyptians built the world's tallest buildings and should get credit for this. Perhaps most significantly, they are the first civilization of which there is any written evidence.
A major point of disagreement is the "cradle of civilization" idea, sometimes put forth as the claim that all civilizations that have every existed derive from (or owe major credit for their existence to) ancient Egypt. Toynbee spends several pages demolishing this idea, so there's no common ground here (!).
I'll take a look in tomorrow, if I have time. Cheers! -- Uncle Ed (talk) 22:28, Feb 15, 2005 (UTC)
Beginnings is a tricky concept that needs to be qualified very carefuly. We, basically, know of four regions where civilizations are alleged to have began, following the great rivers: along the Nile delta, the Tigris-Euphrates, the Indus, and Huang He rivers. El_C 01:16, 16 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Toynbee would agree with these four. He also throws in Central America, where you have your Azteks and Incas. Of course, the four you mention are more interesting. The 2 ancient American civilizations died out, leaving no "successors". By the way, how are your meds these days? -- Uncle Ed (talk) 16:05, Feb 16, 2005 (UTC)

They are incredibly potent, Ed, and they take me, so to speak, from the heights of Paradiso to the depths of Inferno, and everything in between (read: much mood swinging). But I should be back to being boring and annoying (as opposed to borring, annoying, and unpredictable) in the very near future. I am developing an empathy to drug addicts, though! Thanks for your concern, I appreciate it. :)

I want to touch on your thoughts regarding American civilizations briefly. While Central and South American civilizations, much like the African ones (excluding Egypt), arose thousands of years after the four (Afro-?) Asiatic regions (including Egypt), what is noteworthy, I think, is that like (and arguably, even more so than) each of the four (Afro-?) Asiatic ones, these arose independently of one another. But what my note above failed to convey (due to a shortcoming by yours truly), was that I mentioned these four (in relation to the word begin) strictly in terms of periodization. Otherwise, it is, indeed, quite valid to add these (American and non-Egyptian, African ones) to 'the list,' since, again, not only did they merely 'begin' (as everything does, without exception) but theirs was an 'independent beginning,' too. So I place a certain weight on these qualifications; i.e. what began more-or-less 'first' viz. what began later, but nonetheless, (also) outside of one another. Hope that makes sense; brevis esse laboro, obscurus fio! ;) El_C 05:56, 17 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Nice Work

This article has been made infinitely better since the last time I dropped in. Well done. You better throw up a wall and dig a moat, Deeceevoice must be raising an army. Babajobu 11:32, 18 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Hear, hear! Well done! El_C 07:05, 20 Feb 2005 (UTC)


Just in case people come back

The significant changes made on 4.24.05 came from my hand (I registered after I made the changes). I deleted sections, and significantly altered the language. While the earlier version was well written, it was clear that the authors had not read any of the central texts that deal with Afrocentrism as a concept. The focus on the race of the Ancient Egyptians for example is not one discussed within scholarly circles. Still important though is the argument that Egypt was an African civilization--a stance that should be straightforward at this point. Whenever I could I tried to emphasize what the Ancients themselves noted, as well as the lack of significant research that shows a non-African origin for Egyptian culture. I felt too much emphasis was given to Lefkowitz' work, because Lefkowitz to my knowledge has not even published significant works in her own field much less that of African history. Furthermore it does not appear that Lefkowitz has read any of the actual books that Afrocentrists have written. This is a significant problem--no one for example cares what Cleopatra looks like except for Lefkowitz. For a much better critique, Dean Robinson's work on Black Nationalism is solid...because Dr. Robinson at least READ the works.

Toynbee was a white supremacist. Here I am not necessarily making a normative judgment, but rather describing a fact. To state that Africa was a backwards continent that created no civilizations of worth is empirically false. If this is "mainstream scholarship" then we're in trouble.

Given that the Ancients considered their own civilization to originate in Nubia, it makes a great deal of sense that the Ancients would sometimes depict themselves as Nubians. But, as Egypt was a multi-cultural civilization that found itself invaded by Southwest Asians it also makes sense that sometimes they would depict themselves as looking different from Nubians. So I made changes to reflect this.

The biggest problem now is the lack of a proper transition to the Rastafari section.