The Origin, Development, and Purpose of
Africana Studies as an Academic Discipline
African American Studies is a change agent for the ideology of Black Americans. Black studies as an academic discipline serves to reorient the perspective of African Americans in an effort to regain a sense of pride and cultural identity stolen by white society.
Ever since the Europeans forcefully brought Africans west, black people have struggled with a loss of their true culture and identity. The vulnerability of a displaced and victimized race subjected them to view conformity and assimilation as a panacea for racism, discrimination, and oppression. It wasn't until the 1960s that students began to realize and protest the traditional methods of higher learning where the curriculum was taught through the White perspective without the acknowledgment of contributions black people have made to society. Through rallies and organizations, it was made clear that something had to be done about the stolen ideologies of African Americans being replaced with an outlook from the European perspective. African American Studies is a change agent for the ideology of Black Americans. Black studies as an academic discipline serves to reorient the perspective of African Americans in an effort to regain a sense of pride and cultural identity stolen by white society.
Critical Review of Scholarship
I will be referring to multiple articles and in-class discussions to explain the origin, development and purpose of African American/Black/Africana Studies. The names for the courses and departments: African American Studies, Black Studies, and Africana Studies, will be used interchangeably. James Stewart’s and Talmadge Anderson’s article, “Introduction to African American Studies: Transdisciplinary Approaches and Implications” will aid me in talking about the history and development of Black Studies while also providing the definition of “Black Power.” I will also be referring to the article, “Dr. Nathan Hare” from blackthinktank.com to discuss Dr. Nathan Hare’s role in Africana Studies. From in-class discussions, I will pull a couple points from the videos of Dr. Julia Hare and Stokely Carmichael to add more value to Africana Studies and the meaning of Black Power. Discussion
In order to understand the purpose of reorienting the perspective of African Americans and the origin of Black Studies, it must first be clear why the current orientation is wrong. Upon arriving in America, Blacks were forced to conform to the ways of western colonialism. “Americanization” for Blacks meant (and unfortunately still means) to “subscribe to and adopt White Western Anglo-Saxon history and culture… (It) requires their social and cultural adaptation to White middle-class norms and European values.”1 Curriculum in learning institutions did not include the benefactions of Africans on society. After many generations of learning everything about what it is to be White, African American people lost hold of what it means to be Black. Their minds were unknowingly disoriented from being taught to view the world from a White man’s perspective; and what a White man’s perspective was, was that it was bad to be black. To be knowledgeable was to know White history; to be cultured was to know White art; to be American was to know Whiteness. Black people began to believe they themselves were inferior, reaching for the Whiteness placed on a pedestal in front of them. Their sense of pride was lost. What would have been the point of seeking a connection with your ancestral ideology if everything one learned says it is undesirable? Black was not beautiful; it was ugly. This discernment was accepted until the 1960s – a time “marked by the emergence of student power.”2
African American students (and enlightened White students) conceived that the traditional ways of American education was not at all in the interest of black people. The realization of the absence...
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