Afrocentric View Distorts History and Achievements by Blacks
Mona Charen Copyright Creators Syndicate Inc., St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)
Was Cleopatra black? A significant number of American children are being taught as much. Does it matter? Well, in one sense, it shouldn't, and that gets us, in honor of Black History Month, into the controversy over "Afrocentric" education.
The Afrocentric movement has backed a curriculum for primary and secondary education that is designed to enhance the self-esteem of black students by familiarizing them with the greatness of Africa's history.
A study by the Manhattan Institute reveals a few problems: (1) There is no empirical evidence that teaching about African civilization improves the academic performance, personal situations or life chances of black students. (2) The content of the major Afrocentric curricula is often racist and frequently in error. (3) There are better and more honest ways to teach about African history.
It is true that for many years America's textbooks gave only glancing attention to the history of black Americans outside of slavery, and there is no question that for accuracy's sake, if not to build self-esteem in black students, that had to be corrected.
But the introduction of Afrocentrism only replaced one implicit lie - that blacks played a small part in American history - with another.
Basic to the Afrocentric view is that Africa is the true source of the Western intellectual tradition. The seminal book on the subject, "Stolen Legacy," argues that the ancient Greeks were not the authors of Greek philosophy but stole the ideas from the ancient Egyptians, who were black.
Scholars of the ancient world contradict both assertions. There is no evidence that the Egyptians originated the ideas of the Greeks. Nor is it accurate to say that ancient Egyptians were black. The best archaeological evidence suggests that they were a number of different hues, ranging from fair in the north, to quite dark in the south along the Nubian border.
Afrocentrists claim that the civilization of Europe is corrupt, aggressive and inhumane - inferior in every way to African civilization, which is visualized as a paradise of communitarianism, cooperation and spirituality. …