African American Culture and Heritage in Higher Education Research and Practice

By Kassie Freeman | Go to book overview

1
Black to Africa: Some Research Paradigms Reflecting a Black World View

Raymond A. Winbush

During the past few years, the discussion of Afrocentricity as a way of viewing the world has been unrelenting. Books, articles and television newsmagazines have been devoted to it. The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Time, Newsweek, and other printed media have devoted several column inches to decrying its presence at universities. Perhaps the most "systematic" critique of Afrocentricity has been voiced by Mary Lefkowitz, a classics professor at Wellesley College who has written several articles and one book ( 1996) and coedited another book ( Lefkowitz & Rogers , 1996) that provide frontal assaults on the paradigm. Lefkowitz argues that she is simply critiquing scholarship, particularly in the area of history. She joins Arthur Schelsinger ( 1992) and many others in attacking Afrocentricity--her argument being academic while his is supposedly "political." Both of these authors, along with others, would provide several "thumbs down" if asked whether or not Afrocentric paradigms could be used in research design in higher education.

The word "paradigm" is used deliberately since this is exactly what Afrocentricity is. Kuhn ( 1962) notion is that scientific advancement is not evolutionary, but rather a "series of peaceful interludes punctuated by intellectually violent revolutions," and in those revolutions "one conceptual world view is replaced by another" (n.p.). Science advances with notions of how epistemologies are to be confronted with ideas and discoveries that challenge them. Such is the case with Afrocentricity. The notion of an African world view rather than a European world view challenges the very foundation of Western intellectual thought.

Elsewhere I have written ( 1994) about why anxiety is a constant companion to many who criticize Afrocentricity. I am bothered, but not surprised, by how critics of Afrocentricity choose to view it as opposing Eurocentricity and, from this false premise, cite it as just a self-congratulatory way of thinking about history and science. Afrocentricity is "placing African ideals at the center of any analysis that

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