The first African-American Studies (AAS) department in the United States was established in 1969 at San Francisco State University. Today there are hundreds of such departments on campuses nationwide. Most of the courses they offer, Manhattan Institute scholar John McWhorter observes, teach students that America is an irredeemably racist country, and that “racism and disadvantage are the most important things to note and study about being black.”
Many AAS programs heavily promote the tenets of Afrocentrism, which maintains that Africa was the scene of humanity’s seminal achievements in philosophy, mathematics, science, architecture, and literature – and that its people’s accomplishments in those fields were later “stolen” by white Europeans.
The individual most credited with bringing Afrocentrism into both the public sphere and the classroom is the Temple University professor and self-described “African-American liberationist” Molefi Asante. Regarding his introductory course in Afrikan American Studies, Asante says: “We are building Afrikan communities … [T]he reading materials are our map, and Afrikan consciousness is our guide. Let us continue the process of Afrikan liberation!” By its own account, Temple’s AAS department is devoted to promulgating Afrocentric theory and credentialing the next generation of professors to spread its cult to other schools.
Author Bruce Bawer explains that AAS programs fall under the umbrella of “identity studies,” which he describes as “an increasingly long list of disciplines (including, for example, Fat Studies) of which Women’s Studies and Black Studies are the oldest, largest, and most sacrosanct.” “By any serious academic measure,” says Bawer, “… these ‘studies’ aren’t really studies at all, because the ‘conclusions’ of the ‘research’ carried out by the ‘scholars’ in these fields are almost invariably foreordained. In the case of Women’s Studies, all roads lead to patriarchy; in Black Studies, all roads lead to racism.” Bawer notes, moreover, that this has emphasis on grievance and victimization has been a relatively recent development:
“For generations, the historically black colleges taught serious, academically respectable courses in ‘Negro history,’ ‘Negro music,’ and the like. But when the Black Power movement came along, its leaders mocked those sober curricula as ‘bourgeois.’ They wanted a different kind of discipline – one rooted in rage and obsessed with racism, and victimhood. And they got just what they wanted. At one university after another, within a brief period around 1970, radicals terrorized administrators into instituting Black Studies programs on campuses across America.”
Black Studies As Cultural Reparations
By Jason D. Hill
What African-American Studies Could Be
By John McWhorter
September 30, 2009
Black Studies and the Totalitarian Mind
By Bruce Bawer
May 17, 2012
Critics: African-American Studies Have Leftist Slant
By Fox News
February 2, 2004
The Awful Truth
By Roger Kimball
The Most Persuasive Case for Eliminating Black Studies? Just Read the Dissertations.
By Naomi Schaefer Riley
April 30, 2012
Black Studies 101
By Robert VerBruggen
June 25, 2012