Academic journal article The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)

Deconstructing Pseudo-Scientific Anthropology: Anténor Firmin and the Reconceptualization of African Humanity

Academic journal article The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)

Deconstructing Pseudo-Scientific Anthropology: Anténor Firmin and the Reconceptualization of African Humanity

Article excerpt

"The science of inequality is emphatically a science of White people. It is they who have invented it, and set it going, who have maintained, cherished and propagated it, thanks to their observations and their deductions." -Jean Finot-Race Prejudice (1907)

"A preponderance of (fossil) and genetic evidence has revealed, virtually beyond a doubt, that the same Europeans who created the idea of race and White supremacy are the genetic progeny of the very Africans they devalued." - Salim Muwakkil - Chicago Tribune


In studying the post 1492 Western intellectual heritage and tradition, one can easily discern the centrality of White racial superiority, operating as a collective core value in Euro-American life and culture. This clearly manifested reality of Caucasian de-spirituality and psychic imbalance is well documented in articles, essays and textbooks authored by both the oppressor and the colonized oppressed.

From the leaders of early slave resistance and revolts in the Caribbean, Brazil, and the United States to David Walker, Frederick Douglass, Dubois, Woodson, Garvey, Malcolm and Fanon, they have all been correct in stating that "the key to the White man's impact has been in his influence on other people's minds." The aforementioned writers have been eloquent in documenting the subversion of their people's minds and lives. The premise of so-called third world authors says that the most devastating impact of the White man was fundamentally psychological. (Gladwin and Saidin 1980, introduction) As author Toni Morrison has so succinctly stated, "A good deal of time and intelligence has been invested in the exposure of racism and the horrific results on its objects...That well established study should be joined with another, equally important one: the impact of racism on those who perpetuate it...The scholarship that looks into the mind, imagination, and behavior of slaves is valuable. But equally valuable is a serious intellectual effort to see what racial ideology does to the mind, imagination, and behavior of masters." (Morrison 1992: 11-12)

As though she was instinctively anticipating the intellectual recommendation of Morrison, anthropologist and author Marimba Ani has written one of the most comprehensive and elucidating African centered studies of Euro-American consciousness and worldview. Her text is titled, Yurugu: An African-Centered Critique of European Cultural Thought and Behavior (1994). From the introduction written by the late Professor John Henrik Clarke, we extract the following: "...In their conquest of the minds of most of mankind, they have been able to convince themselves and others that they were indispensable to civilization and without them, it would not have existed...In the 15th and 16th centuries Europeans not only colonized most of the world, they colonized information about the world. They developed monopoly control over concepts and images. The hallmark of their colonization in this regard was the colonization of the image of God."

In Yurugu, Ani attempts to uncover the roots of anti-Africanism and European imperialistic consciousness in the discipline of anthropology. In her introduction to the text she writes, "The secret Europeans discovered early in their history is that culture carries rules for thinking, and that if you could impose your culture on your victims, you could limit the creativity of their vision, destroying their ability to act with will and intent and in their own best interest...This book discusses the evolution of that process of imposition as well as the characteristics of cultural beings who find it necessary to impose their will on others. It is not a simple process to explain since the tools we need in order to dissect it have been taken from us through colonial mis-education." (Ani 1994; 1-3)

The Kenyan writer, Ngugi wa Thiongo has articulated that the European 'cultural bomb' dropped on African descended peoples, has been more dangerous and destructive than political, economic or military weapons. …

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