Black History and Black Identity: A Call for a New Historiography

By W. D. Wright | Go to book overview

Chapter 6

Blacks and the Retrospective African Identity

The discussion of the last chapter made it clear that the black people who came to North America, initially to the English colonies and then to America in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries, did not call themselves Africans and did not call their homeland Africa. That means, contrary to what many Black or other historians say, that they did not come to the English colonies and then to America knowing themselves to be and thinking of themselves as Africans, or as having an African consciousness or African ethnic identities, or with notions of Pan-Africanism, or Pan-Negroism, or black nationalism, or even with Africancentric and still less Afrocentric perspectives. These are identities, concepts, and ideologies that individuals have imposed on people and historical realities, in the case of most of these constructions in the twentieth century, with some of these constructions being the products of the 1960s and thereafter.

Some of the younger or more recent First-Wave Black historians and a number of Second-Wave Black historians like imposing virtually all of these constructions (Pan-Negroism being the exception) on Black history in America from the seventeenth century to the present day. There are white as well as other historians in

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