Colleges Seek More African Students: The Value of Studying the African Experience
Nomura, Takehiko, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
Molefi Kete Asante is chairman of the department of African-American studies at Temple University in Philadelphia. He spoke by telephone with reporter Takehiko Nomura.
Question: Should African-American studies be taught more at universities?
A: African-American studies should be taught because African-Americans represent a full version of the African experience in the Americas and a full version of the American experience. In effect, the African-American was interwoven into the very fabric of American society even before there was a government. To understand various aspects of American society it is essential that one has some competence in the African-American experience.
For example, if a person declares competency in music and has never studied the music of Duke Ellington or the spirituals, then the person's competence should be questioned - particularly if the person is declaring that he or she knows music in the larger context. So African-American studies is vital. It is remarkably intertwined with cultural, social, political and economic experiences of the American society.
Q: What aspect of African studies need to be taught more? What kind of benefit is the program to those who study it?
A: There are probably three principal areas that ought to be looked at. One would be the cultural and aesthetic impact of the African presence in America. The second probably would be the social and behavioral component of the Africans' experience here. Third would be something related to ethics and policy.
These are the fundamental areas of the African-Americans' experience. These ought to be taught because they provide other Americans as well as African-Americans with some statement, philosophical statement, of the meaning of the African-Ameri- cans' ethic in this land. …