Afrocentric myths being taught as truth
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  1. #1
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    Afrocentric myths being taught as truth

    I stumbled across this earlier today, and it made me think about the African American studies classes I took in high school and college. Basically, the author, of the book being discussed here talks about how African American studies curricula across the country are passing of myths as fact in order to make people "feel better." Kinda reminds me of my high school Afro American studies teacher telling us that the first eight presidents of the United States were actually Black (of course, he didn't give any names). It wouldn't surprise me at all if Al and Jesse were somehow behind this.

    Not out of Africa: How Afrocentrism Became an Excuse to Teach Myth as History | Insight on the News | Find Articles at BNET

    Lefkowitz knows better. In Not Out of Africa: How Afrocentrism Became An Excuse to Teach Myth as History, she applies her knowledge of the ancient world and its languages to showing, as she puts it, that "virtually all the claims made by Afrocentrists can be shown to be without substance."

    Take the claim that Cleopatra of Egypt was black. To reach this conclusion, Lefkowitz points out, one must assume that the unlikely actually is probable: for example, that Cleopatra's grandmother, the only member of her family not identified precisely as a Macedonian Greek, was a black African. It is possible that this was the case, Letfkowitz points out; but surely if it had been, the Roman writers of the time, who hated Cleopatra, would have used her foreign ancestry against her.

    Because ancient sources that mention the matter identify Cleopatra as Macedonian Greek, Afrocentrists turn to more modern sources to buttress their case. One writer, Joel Rogers, has pointed out that in Antony and Cleopatra, Shakespeare describes Cleopatra as "tawny," which means, he says, that Shakespeare thought of her as a mulatto. Lefkowitz finds this unconvincing - just as she does the use of the bard's work on this occasion - "as if Shakespeare were an authority on Ptolemaic Egypt."

    But other Afrocentrist citations are even more bizarre. Rogers actually offers as evidence a passage from Ripley's Believe It or Not that claims that Cleopatra was "fat and black." John Henrik Clarke, professor emeritus of black and Puerto Rican studies at Hunter College in New York, writes that "in the Book of Acts, Cleopatra describes herself as `black.'" Clarke does not give the precise chapter and verse in Acts and for very good reason, says Lefkowitz. Cleopatra is not mentioned in Acts and, in fact, died some 60 years before this book of the New Testament was written.

    To illustrate the harm done by Afrocentric myths, Lefkowitz tells of the Wellesley student who objected to the showing of the film Cleopatra on the grounds that having Elizabeth Taylor in the starring role perpetuated the lie of "white supremacy." When a member of the classics department tried to discuss Cleopatra's genealogy with the student, it quickly became apparent that she wanted no part of such explanations. To her way of thinking, they were further examples of white racism.

    Afrocentrism is more than an exercise in esteem building; it is a way of nurturing racial resentment. When academics such as Lefkowitz are skeptical, it is seen as evidence that whites, simply because they are white, want to deny blacks, simply because they are black, the grand heritage of ancient Egypt. Before the 19th century, Afrocentrists say, scholars acknowledged the primacy of Egypt, but with the burgeoning of the slave trade, European scholars began to minimize the importance of all things African and to credit the Greeks with what were actually Egyptian achievements.

    Lefkowitz acknowledges that there was a shift, but it was not racism that caused it; rather, it was an increase in knowledge. Scholars learned how to read hieroglyphics "and once they were able to read real Egyptian texts," they "could disregard the fanciful interpretations of hieroglyphics that had been circulating since late antiquity." Afrocentrists return to these fanciful interpretations and report as truth such myths as Aristotle's having plagiarized his philosophy from the library at Alexandria - a clear impossibility, Lefkowitz observes, since the library was assembled only after Aristotle's death.

    Those concerned about fraudulent history being taught on campuses owe a debt of gratitude to Lefkowitz for this book, and so do those who are appalled by untruths being propagated in our schools. Concerned parents will find herein powerful ammunition in their battle to rid of Afrocentrist ideas the worldhistory curriculum their children are studying.

    But the battle likely is to be protracted. Afrocentrists themselves will not be impressed by the evidence that Lefkowitz has piled up because truth - which is the aim of gathering evidence - is not their concern. Their goal is a pride-building myth.

    Perhaps in the next stage of the debate over Afrocentrism it should be asked why myth is necessary, since the truth should be such an obvious source of pride. As presidential hopeful Alan Keyes has observed, "The survival of black people in America, through slavery, racist assaults and economic deprivation, is one of the greatest sagas of the human spirit the world has ever seen."

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    What does it mean to be "black" or "white" anyway? Is there some standard way people can measure this? Is there like a standard skin tone that's considered the barrier?

    The whole thing seems bizarre and confusing to me, and they're mostly just arbitrary groupings. If a "white" guy from South Africa moves here and gets citizenship, is he an African-American? What about Egyptians who aren't that dark? Are caucasian Russians Asian? Native Americans are definitely asians who walked over from China 10,000 years ago - and they look like it, too.

    Usually we accept whatever people say - like "hispanic" - based on self-identity. In other words, they are whatever they say they are. People can identify themselves as "white, non-hispanic" or "white and hispanic".

    So in other words, I can pretty much tell people I'm whatever I want to be, and if I say it is, then it is. I have ancestors from Africa - a long time ago - so that makes me part African, as far as I'm concerned.
    Silent Running, by Mike and the Mechanics

  4. #3
    I have some Irish, English, Scottish, French blood in me. So am I Irish American, French American etc. I am not concerned really. I am American period.
    By faith Noah,being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear,prepared an ark to the saving of his house;by the which he condemned the world,and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith Heb.11:7

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    Quote Originally Posted by HK4U View Post
    I have some Irish, English, Scottish, French blood in me. So am I Irish American, French American etc. I am not concerned really. I am American period.
    Exactly. It doesn't matter because you can't take it with you when you die anyway.
    Silent Running, by Mike and the Mechanics

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    I'm an American and just that. I don't relate to any other heritage and that's the way it should be. If you were born here then you are like me...just an American. If you immigrated here legally then add your heritage, no problem. You tell the same lie and the same story long enough then it becomes the truth and history.
    USAF Retired, CATM, SC CWP, NH NR CWP, NRA Benefactor
    To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them... -- Richard Henry Lee, 1787

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    Everything you guys have said regarding race and identity is well taken, but that still doesn't justify these liberals in academia teaching this country's future leaders outright lies, such as the one I mentioned about the first seven presidents of the United States being Black.

  8. #7
    John Henrik Clarke, professor emeritus of black and Puerto Rican studies at Hunter College in New York, writes that "in the Book of Acts, Cleopatra describes herself as `black.'"

    Perhaps he should read the Bible before quoting it. Or could it be he just hopes he's readers don't.
    By faith Noah,being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear,prepared an ark to the saving of his house;by the which he condemned the world,and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith Heb.11:7

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    Black and White and all the colors in between!

    Quote Originally Posted by toreskha View Post
    What does it mean to be "black" or "white" anyway? Is there some standard way people can measure this? Is there like a standard skin tone that's considered the barrier?


    Ani's photo, she is too dark, lowering her status level in Thailand.



    I am prejudiced! I enjoy pretty women. But, that aside, there is some truth to that in a LOT of the world. My ex, Ani, is Thai. In Thailand there was sure a LOT of emphasis placed on how "light" your skin was. The darker your skin, the lower class you were treated. Much better to be lighter skinned in Thailand.
    I was aware of that from the year and a half I lived there during the Vietnam War.
    Ani had friends whom were from different countries, mostly China and Japan who were going to the local community college at the same time she was. We would visit with them, many times taking one or the other with us when we went to shoot photos.
    Listening to them talk, it was the same in China and Japan. Your skin lightness or darkness said, for the most part, where you fit in society.

    No standard way, but it IS there, in LOTS of countries. Even the USA. This from a black friend of mine, my age of 61, we talk a lot. His up bringing was a LOT different than mine was here in Oregon. He lived through the; "Hey, no niggers allowed in here." or "Niggers go around to the back." He said he ran into some of that right here in Salem when applying for a job to work for the City in the 1980s.

    Skin color DOES still cause LOTS of problems in the world today. Some places it is the opposite, being white/light skinned puts you at a disadvantage.

    The whole thing seems bizarre and confusing to me, and they're mostly just arbitrary groupings. If a "white" guy from South Africa moves here and gets citizenship, is he an African-American? What about Egyptians who aren't that dark? Are caucasian Russians Asian? Native Americans are definitely asians who walked over from China 10,000 years ago - and they look like it, too.
    I asked a guy that very question who was from South Africa. Asked him if he were African-American. He replied:"NO WAY."

    But, if we look at that word: African-American we see we are using a country. Thus, those like me, with my ancestors coming from Europe, would be European-Americans, since Europe is the COUNTY (like Africa) our ancestors came from.
    Usually we accept whatever people say - like "hispanic" - based on self-identity. In other words, they are whatever they say they are. People can identify themselves as "white, non-hispanic" or "white and hispanic".

    So in other words, I can pretty much tell people I'm whatever I want to be, and if I say it is, then it is. I have ancestors from Africa - a long time ago - so that makes me part African, as far as I'm concerned.

    And there again, it depends on how far back we go with our ancestors (we only go back to 1137 on Mom's side of the family. On Dad's side we only go back two generations, his Dad's Dad's family), we might find that we are ALL African-Something.

    YES, in 2008, racism against color is alive and well, however sad of a fact that is.


    Last edited by Oregon Vet; 11-04-2008 at 06:01 PM.

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    The definition of "Native" changes depending on who you are.

    Quote Originally Posted by HK4U View Post
    I have some Irish, English, Scottish, French blood in me. So am I Irish American, French American etc. I am not concerned really. I am American period.
    If you were born here like I was, then you are a Native of your state. I am a Native Oregonian, thus a Native American. That is a fact.

    But for some reason, (American) Indians really have a problem with that fact. They insist you have to be an (American) Indian to be a native. (of the USA)

    Like you, I am first and foremost: An American.

    Strange people, that we are!



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    Quote Originally Posted by tattedupboy View Post
    Everything you guys have said regarding race and identity is well taken, but that still doesn't justify these liberals in academia teaching this country's future leaders outright lies, such as the one I mentioned about the first seven presidents of the United States being Black.
    ...Kinda reminds me of my high school Afro American studies teacher telling us that the first eight presidents of the United States were actually Black ...


    Seven? or Eight? LOL None?



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