Afro-Centrism and African Philosophy
What are Afro-centrism and the African Diaspora?
In the United States, Afro-centrism begins with the premise that American slaves and, through inter-generational cultural inheritance—if not a now-untenable biological essentialism—their descendants, came from Africa. At the time when the original slave populations were kidnapped from Africa, Africa had fully developed religions, cultures, cities, and civilizations dating before ancient Western philosophy. The involuntary implantations of Africans, as slaves, in the Americas and Europe resulted in a forced scattering, or diaspora, from those African origins.
The reclamation of their African heritage on the part of African Americans results in a different perspective than the dominant white view that African slaves were forced immigrants without original cultures comparable to the cultures of those who enslaved them. Afro-centrism is thus a foundation for a new African-American pride, in both origins and contemporary identity, through cultural inheritance, for all groups and their members who are part of the African diaspora.
A new legitimate foundation of culture, complete with its own art, architecture, poetry, styles of clothing, food, and everyday habits, is therefore claimed. It needs to be emphasized that this is in contrast to the culture of slave cabins, slave field labor, or slave service in the homes of masters, complete with a loss of original names, on through the oppressively degrading conditions of segregation, disproportionate incarceration, ghetto living conditions, the destruction of traditional black nuclear families and neighborhoods, and a general sense of being both the cause and object of America’s unique “race problem.”
Afro-centrism is thereby a perspective of encouragement and racial uplift. Sources on Afro-centrism include Martin Bernal’s Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization (three volumes, 1987–2006), Lewis R. Gordon’s Her Majesty’s Other Children: Sketches of Racism from a Neocolonial Age (1997), and Molefi Asante’s The Afrocentric Idea (1987).