Join now to read essay Afrocentrism
Today, many people can identify with the term “Afrocentrism.” However, few people know what this term entails or what makes up the Afrocentric viewpoint. According to Asante, Afrocentrism has been incorrectly connotated and studied from a Eurocentric perspective. To be Eurocentric is to possess a desire for the material things in life and the struggle that goes along with obtaining such things. In addition, to be Eurocentric is to be focused around individual upward mobility and success. Asante argues that the concept of Afrocentrism cannot be fully understood from such a perspective.
His first major focus is on the way in which society is viewed from both the Eurocentric and Afrocentric perspectives. Eurocentrists, he argues, tend to take a linear view toward society with regard to its changes and advances. The Euro-linear view is based upon the ability to predict change and then to control it through the constructs of a given ideology or set of guidelines. On the other hand, the Afrocentric view is circular in nature–relying on the ability to interpret societal change and then to understand it.
To illustrate this more clearly, Asante makes note of the distinctions between the Western Eurocentric orators and Afrocentric orators. He states that when it comes to the discourse of Afrocentric language, whether written or spoken, many in the Western world commonly misconstrue its true meaning. In turn, many people find themselves unfamiliar with the culture and style of Afrocentric ideology. While the Eurocentric orators discourse is based upon a stimulus-response relationship he or she has with a given audience, the Afrocentric orators discourse is primarily concerned with rhetoric and structure meaning that the words, spoken or written are not necessarily meant to stimulate, but to educate and promote harmony among the masses. This is perhaps why most white leaders emerge from professional backgrounds and most black leaders ascend from behind the pulpit or podium.
Asante moves on to recognize this sense of harmony along with tradition as keys to Afrocentric ideology in that they stress the plight of the community rather than the individual. For example, the use of nicknames which are in direct relation to a persons distinctive characteristics or personality traits (i.e. “Slo-Mo”, “Toothless Terence”) has been a cultural universal in many African sub-cultures although most of the
African-American nicknames have no religious or super-natural spiritualistic connotations. With regard to harmony, Asante notes that without the presence of some form of unity within and among African cultures, there would be no Afrocentrism.
In summation, the first section of the book places emphasis on communication as being the single most important factor in defining the Afrocentric idea. Verbal, written, and symbolic messages are what comprise this communication; its universalities are what give meaning to Afrocentrism.
The second portion of the book attempts to analyze the African-American community according to this theory of Afrocentrism. Asante finds that the direction of African-American communication, although harmonious in nature, is different from the communication of other African cultures in that the myths generated by African-Americans through this system of communication are often used to serve as appeasement for the hardships they have experienced while in this country.
This can best be reflected in the discourse of prominent African American orators such as Malcom X, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Stokely Carmichael, Jesse Jackson, and Louis Farrakhan who, while the content of their messages may have been different, pushed for some sense of justification for this oppression and discrimination.
Because of slavery and the civil rights movement and the communication that was related to both, African-Americans began to develop a rhetoric geared more toward resistance than harmony. The language of African-Americans was filled with rebellion not only towards whites, but toward any race that seen as a threat