Social Theory: The Multicultural and Classic Readings

By Charles Lemert | Go to book overview

cannot be dismissed as simply false or misguided. In consequence, the oppressed groups must struggle for their own understandings which will represent achievements requiring both theorizing and the education which grows from political struggle.

Fifth, as an engaged vision, the understanding of the oppressed exposes the relations among people as inhuman and thus contains a call to political action. That is, a theory of power for women, for the oppressed, is not one that leads to a turning away from engagement but rather one that is a call for change and participation in altering power relations.

The critical steps are, first, using what we know about our lives as a basis for critique of the dominant culture and, second, creating alternatives. When the various "minority" experiences have been described and when the significance of these experiences as a ground for critique of the dominant institutions and ideologies of society is better recognized, we will have at least the tools to begin to construct an account of the world sensitive to the realities of race and gender as well as class. To paraphrase Marx, the point is to change the world, not simply to redescribe ourselves or reinterpret the world yet again.❖

Molefi Kete Asante ( 1942-) is professor and, until 1996, chair of the Department of African-American studies at Temple University, which is considered the foremost center for graduate training in the Afrocentric perspective. Asante is an influential speaker, editor, columnist, and author. His many books include Afrocentricity ( 1988) and The Afrocentric Idea ( 1987), from which the selection is taken.


The Afrocentric Idea

Molefi Kete Asante ( 1987)

The critic's chief problem is finding a place to stand--so to speak--in relation to Western standards, imposed as interpretative measures on other cultures. I have familiarized myself with the leading proponents of the logic of scientific discovery, only to find their reductionist views of the world incapable of adequately dealing with African cultural data. In fact, it is questionable whether they are able to examine any data that are dynamic and transformational. Since the time-space domain is not stationary, and has not been considered to be so since the Newtonian view was shattered by the quantum theory's evidence of particle-wave behavior, there needs to be an accommodating, flexible frame of reference that permits the dynamic. . . .

While the contributions of the Eurocentric philosophers and scientists have been important and valuable, they have not been fully expressive of the extent or power of human ways of knowing. The arguments that have been advanced for the Western formulation of science are not convincing. . . . Afrocentricity expands the repertoire of human perspectives on knowledge.

____________________
Excerpt from The Afrocentric Idea ( Philadelphia, Pa.: Temple University Press, 1987), pp. 11-17, 59-60, 78-80.

-504-

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