Contentious Curricula: Afrocentrism and Creationism in American Public Schools

By Amy J. Binder | Go to book overview

Four
Cultural, Political, and Organizational
Factors Influencing Afrocentric Outcomes

ALTHOUGH INTERESTING from a historical standpoint, the foregoing chronology of the three Afrocentric cases leaves us with a deluge of data that will remain a mind-boggling puzzle unless treated to some form of systematic analysis. With analysis in mind, I have two goals for this chapter which, at first glance, may seem to be at cross purposes. The first is to demonstrate the similarities of cultural resources available to all Afrocentric advocates in their struggles with schools. Despite their locations in three separate school systems, Afrocentric challengers laid claim to remarkably similar arguments for why they had a right to make demands of schools, and why schools should respond favorably to those demands. Having established these cultural similarities, my second goal is to demonstrate the differences that also marked the three cases, particularly when it came to the political and organizational factors in place in each school system. What I hope to demonstrate convincingly in this second part of the chapter is that while Afrocentrists in all three cases may have been similarly culturally endowed, their access to political and organizational opportunities varied in their own systems, and these differences led to the disparate outcomes we have witnessed.

Once I have tackled these two tasks, and we understand the Afrocentric cases more thoroughly, it will be possible to take the next step—the central point of this book—and compare these three cases to the cases involving creationists. I will begin this “between-challenge” comparative work in chapter 5.


Resonant Cultural Resources

Cultural Resource 1: Resonance of Afrocentrists’
“Problem” and “Solution”

As evidenced in Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and New York State, Afrocentrists had access to an extremely powerful weapon in pressing their claims against the educational system: they argued that they were addressing a problem that was undeniable to all but the most conservative

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