Civilizational strivings and Humanitas Africana.
Africa is at the beginning of many African American intellectual ideas regarding the past. The idea of an ancient Egyptian Africa connected to a notion of transplanted Africans in America has persisted throughout the writings of nineteenth-century African American intellectuals. Much has been written about the importance of the perception of Africa when conceiving the nationalization of a select group of people who have been an integral part of the evolution of the United States. The "African American" term itself is symbolic of an African people persisting in the United States and thus for this self-named group its term incorporates two geographical regions and their connectivity. An African American identity has been defined in two mutually exclusive (i.e. opposing) ways: (1) as a North American people derived from peoples who first stepped foot in North America in 1619 CE and who have been forcibly isolated from their African roots, and (2) as a people who have maintained a sense of historical continuity with the Africa-homeland (both ancient and contemporary cultures). In this article I argue that there was an established historiographical tradition to disprove African invisibility in world civilization.
Unlike the vast majority of other early arriving immigrants to North America, African people had been forcibly removed from their homeland and brought to North America for European, and by extension European-American, exploitative use of their labor. (1) African American intellectual endeavors in various literary forms worked at building a variant understanding of their civilizational continuity that made use of a biblical and secular past. In response to these circumstances, African American intellectuals have used ancient African Egyptian civilization as proof of not only the resilience of African people to meet various historical challenges but also as an affirmation of African contributions to world civilization. Thus, the humanitas Africana effort recognized African parity chiefly at the cultural, historical, and intellectual levels. Writers engaged in the humanitas Africana struggle corrected harmful notions of non-African association with civilization. The African is an all-encompassing human that at times has been plagued with establishing epistemically their contributive tendencies to world civilization.
The title "African American" for a people signifies two geographically based entities that are joined together to represent a perception of an American with a past. There is this connectivity between them nonetheless where African American maintains a certain gift as Du Bois contended long ago, i.e., the cultural gift of second sight which yields insight into European-American actions. (2) David Walker for example included perceptions of ancient Egyptians as well as George Washington Williams who identified an African ancient Egyptian civilization as proof of not only the persistency of a people to meet various historical challenges but also affirmation of African American civilizational proficiency. (3)
This essay extends the back-to-Africa theme to the utilitarian conception of African antiquity and presents it as an African American intellectualized repatriation endeavor. African American intellectuals in a dominant European-derived America looked at their historical civilizational position from European-American presentations of civilization. Civilization had been construed as a European-derived occurrence. The ideal of being civilized and self sufficient and consequently humanitas epitomizes the Western and European prototype and/or supposedly "advanced" level of human and civilizational artistic practice. The Roman model as professed by Julius Caesar and Marcus Tullius Cicero (and in a similar vein the Greek paideia) maintained this idea of civilizational advancement forward.
The humanism of the Italian Renaissance harkened back to classical antiquity and envisioned a connected positive past. The humanitates of the French and German Enlightenment held this same assessment of achieving leamedness (i.e. the present achieving the greatness of the past) and with it the belief of development and esteemed Kultur. (4) Certain African American writers like Delany and Douglass never disavowed their historical past and sensibilities about their place within a civilizational flux. (5) The "Negro" of the past was never separated from civilization no matter how disconnected or re-creative such socializing forces became, and there was an understanding that Africa was involved in civilization and by extension the Africans in America. The emancipation of America's Africans precipitated a trajectory of nomenclature that worked at destroying antebellum notions of "property." An oppressed group contended onwards and the "negro" changed to "Negro," i.e., a self-perceived and self-reliant cultural grouping. Also, a globalized grouping was certainly evolving. There were other terms like "Anglo-African", "Aframerican", "Colored", "Black", "Afro-American" and "African American" and finally "African American." (6) As a result, the trajectory of changing terms or the changing same ends with freedom from hyphenated bondage that drapes an equilibrium continuum. The loss of a hyphen alludes to the inevitable unoccupied and balanced space between worlds and represents a doubling, empowering, symbolic, and geographical equilibrium.
It is as if in order for the African American to be free, the remnant "Africa" must also be constructive because its use implies a linking to an antecedent past, i.e., the term "African American" accordingly is both historical and geographical. "Africa" or "African" as it stands must be entirely separated and liberated from an oppressive America that did not allow for an African link. The term represents a self-determined name, place, and space. There is still this presence of Africans in America or Americans from an Africa long gone but yet still there to help qualify a historical occurrence. The idea that an "Africa" or the various representations of it must remain connected to a people ascribes not only to geographical extension (consequentially, a term that refers to a long past mercantilism) but also adheres to collective solidarity that helped a people persevere through harmful passage within a fragmenting America. In the 1800s, it mattered a great deal to certain intellectuals to point out this understanding of connectivity. They offered a link not only to an African physical locality but also more importantly to a constructive presence and ancient ancestral origin and involvement.
The conceptualization of "Africa" remains connected to a separated African people and encompasses not only the notion of geographical identity that necessarily maintains historical derivation. To certain African American intellectuals it became vitally important to address this connectivity not only to assess the rationalization of emigration to a geographical and continental African locality but also more importantly to affirm an ancestral ancient African origin and dissipate an ex nihilo ontology. In 1841, Reverend James W. C. Pennington wrote a primer that addressed the derivation of "colored people" titled Text Book of the Origin and History, &c. &c. of the Colored People. Pennington began his explanation of "who and whence are the colored people" because as he stated "we suffer much from the want of a collocation of historical facts so arranged as to present a just view of our origin." (7) Pennington, as other nineteenth-century African American intellectuals and some African American nationalists like David Walker, Maria Stewart, Robert Benjamin Lewis, John Brown Russwurm, and Hosea Easton wrote to dismantle the harmful biblical prophesized enslavement notion as construed by proslavery advocates from Genesis 9: 25-27. (8) Others felt there was a need to return to Africa since pragmatically there would be no other solution and/or convincing that African people were civilized like John Brown Russwurm. (9)
And yet, with Pennington I turn to an intellectualization that gleans an ideational return to an Africa in the past. Pennington offered a rationalism that concluded with an explanation and correction about African Americans and their historic connection to humanitas. The story of Ham, in of itself, although typically negative in that it referred to the consistent impropriety of solely one individual, i.e., a socially dysfunctional Ham, presents Ham as a participant member of civilization just the same as Japheth and Shem. Ultimately, Ham's descendant (solely one: Canaan) is plagued and serves to address the rationale for not only enslavement but also civilizational ineptitude. The Hamitic African is connected to the American African and by extension the humanitas Africana in a way that serves to negate their existences or rather deny acceptance as a capably "civilized" member. Thus, the Hamitic connection to African enslavement in America is a negative heritage that had been rejected by various African American intellectuals. (10)
Overall, any comprehension in the use of a term like "African American" encompasses a consummative identity of Africa and America and it construes an unequivocal sense of extension and the necessity of unity that unavoidably must acknowledge as primary an extant African heritage. Extended Africans, i.e., North and South American Africans, inevitably must conceive of an oppressive-free future that ultimately can only become reinforced by a positive explicative historic civilizational past. Thus, the ameliorating imperative of an altered identity and the re-envisioning of African history require this sense of positive heritage positioning that traces back to African origins established within an identified African antiquity.
Pointing to an ancient civilizational Africa, as contributor to world history, is just one aspect of a corrective analysis that works at dismantling misinformed European-American understanding (specifically in this analysis of late nineteenth and early twentieth century) about African American civilizational propensity. Ultimately, if one argues for a geographically based center then consequentially one argues for worldly civilizational understanding and a humanitas Africana. Furthermore, considering the branching out of populations, African American reconstruction of African civilizational history adheres to an extension beyond its North American shores. African and European dispersals set in their dueling American region with their ramifications engage an undeniable knowledge between two distinct civilizational origins and their trajectories.
Thus, perceptions about African antiquity were useful. There were already various other writers on ancient Egypt who regarded it as a primary civilization that involved cultural convergence where intercultural mixture of ideas and patterns occurred. (11) An understanding of a diffusive ideational tendency being consistently at work was used to explain various historical developments and in the case of what has been described as civilizational antiquity the interconnectivity of ancient Egypt with Asia as well as with Greece and Italy was early on a scholarly consideration. Along with this notion on African cultural diffusion, there is also the idea that Africa is larger than what any European-designed Mercator map had supplied since 1569 CE. The ancient African civilization as perceived by in particular European-American writings about an ancient Egyptian setting was predominantly considered to be comprised of non African people. (12) African people remained secondary in the understanding of this ancient civilization. An agentic ancient African consideration helps to support an extended African ideal, i.e., African American identification with African historical civilizational participation strengthened African American societal proficiency in the present civilization specifically in the nineteenth century.
Moreover, the contention for some intellectuals of African descent was that the African in African American had always been civilization-inclusive and ancient Egyptian Africanness served to support such a notion whether perceived as mixed race or not or as an oppressive American analogue. (13) Historically, a major pattern of select African American intellectuals included a visible and connected African past that invigorated an understanding of an anchored heritage. For some intellectuals of African descent, the notion of Africa meant something very different from what was traditionally being presented by most European and European-American historians. (14) Africa was civilized just as much as African Americans were civilized and further civilizing. African American intellectuals essentially ascribed to two options when it came to ancient Egypt: (1) that there was such a thing as ancient African humanitas via an African Egypt and (2) that there was no African ancient Egypt but in the past there was African barbarianism with its good raw moral stock that will inevitably rise up to a profound civilization and not just rendered to being subsistence farmers. (15)
African barbarianism was not restricted to social degeneracy it was attributed beneficial characteristics. In 1882, Alexander Crummell who did return to Africa, for example, wrote the following, "[f]rom my early childhood my mind was filled with facts and thoughts about Africa and my imagination literally glowed with visions of its people, its scenery, and its native life. In my boyhood I read the 'Arabian Nights Tales' and all you who have read them know how [it] stimulate[s] the youthful mind. It was just thus with me with regard to Africa." (16) Although we find that some African American perceptions were relegated to exotic tales about Africa and its people, for some an African indigenous adoration stems from familial considerations as with Crummell whose father once informed him as a young influential mind about the glories of his righteous African ancestry.
Nevertheless, it soon happened, particularly in the nineteenth century, that an ancient Africa as perceived and linked to an ancient Egypt and connected to a contemporary African American traditionally functions to dismantle the European tradition of ancient Egyptian non-Africanness and thus non-civilizational African tendencies. (17) Certain nineteenth century African American writings consider a new participant where African people throughout a spatial time-continuum are considered primary and civilizational. Some African American intellectuals construct an antiquity that includes an ancient African Egypt as an inclusion of Africans in civilization. Moreover, this ancient civilizational notion asserts inextricable ties to African American renewal and through it an African American share in the development of the Western societal process. An analysis of intellectual works presents perspectives and utilizations of the past that refuted notions of African civilizational exclusion and inferiority. In addition, a literary analysis points to the implications of the intellectual use of a civilizational past that incorporates the ideal that Africans in America strove to make American civilization better for its entire people.
The European impression of civilization had early on excluded any civilizational capabilities for African peoples. There was this need to make known certain civilizational tendencies that excluded the potential for the cultural transformation of peoples outside of Europe or various non-European peoples to have the capacity to not only create it but also maintain it.
It is European-centered thinking in that it stems from the scholarly production of knowledge that primarily involved the French, German, and English, or in the case of nineteenth century thought as presented by the American scholar William Z. Ripley where the "European type or white race" was solely restricted to the "Teutonic, Celtic Alpine, and Mediterranean" and had solely been the ones to have maintained its advanced industrialized state. (18) However, Ripley's work could be said to have worked in the midst of what can be referred to as a raceological process. Some would contend that racialization excelled with the Frenchman Comte Joseph-Arthur de Gobineau and such contending intellectual process helped to lead to not only the notion of European centrality that lends itself to the racialized construction of "the Other" but also the dominating centrality is a vehicle that serves to maintain a bound Europeanism and by extension understanding of civilization that in the nineteenth century had a scholarly tradition of African exclusion. (19)
Hans-Georg Gadamer's literary theory that writings have meaning that thrive beyond its own contemporaneous moment, i.e. outside the writing and writers of the past which presents an interconnectivity, i.e. that "meaning of a text may transcend the original author's conscious intention, expressing the author's unconscious desires and testifying to social and cultural situations the author may not in the least be aware of, but which a reader from a later period may grasp." (20) The meaning behind the African American intellectual writing about their perceived humanitas Africana via an interpretable explanation of the connection to ancient African Egypt had purpose and should be construed as back-to-Africa expression through an intellectual social movement. (21) Some African-Americans physically went back to Africa and some African American intellectually went back to Africa with their positive writings about African antiquity and such intellectualization should be interpreted as a movement to change futurity. And such rational activity has not only creative dimensions in artistic productive form but also such writings served as a means of defense against European-American biblical and scientific (secular) writings that worked at nhuegatively racializing and degrading a group as inferior and as incapable of partaking in civilization. The American writings concerning the "Negro" traditionally presented as factual the "Negro" uncivilizational tendency, i.e. a non-humanitas Africana existentialism.
Beyond a simple race-writing textual review, there is the African American political endeavor to identify with a civilizational past as back-to-Africa thought via an acknowledged African antiquity, i.e. humanitas Africana. African American writings resound throughout the nineteenth century with a defense of their civilizational potentiality. Without a self-determined sense of the collective past of a global and participatory Africana people, African American acquire a suspended heritage, thus any people proceeding without understanding of a capacity of civilizational origin or stability with recognition of their place in antiquity are merely floating in a present origination or recent derivation devoid of connectivity to referential early beginning and thus they inevitably are left with an intellect and proclivity for a desolate futurity.
The manifest significance about African American knowledge of a people's civilizational past as a means of building recognition of humanitas Africana is that it has a central history that requires self-identification based in Africa because it informs any people (particularly the African diasporic people in this analysis) about their cultural motifs and aesthetic that consequentially implicates the substance of an African social origination and heritage. An African perspective of that legacy otherwise would dissipate from posterity if it were not for the African and African American intellectuals who have established a specified African continuum and genealogy.
There was a corrective need to reveal positively and identify an African antiquity. Inevitably, recognition of a civilizational African Egypt helped in the struggle to prove full human and logically whole citizenry capabilities and acknowledgement. The humanitas Africana root cause involved an intellectual strategy that particularly linked African Americans to civilizational participation pre-1619. We must bear in mind that a linked misanthropic heritage was already in play and such vilification differs from what African American thinkers like Walker, Steward, Douglass and others in the nineteenth century and Du Bois, Houston, Woodson, Drake and others in the twentieth century offered.
African American thinkers and writers presented and researched what has been construed as traditional mythopoeia on the African impact on civilization. This article emphasizes that the humanitas Africana undertaking is a manifestation of back-to-Africa intellectualism. What I mention here in this appraisal is contemplation and subsequent spiritual movement influenced by African American writers as thinkers about the past. The writers deconstruct and not only signify production of knowledge about Africa with its ancestry and its descendants but also note that they render an "at home" cognition. The primary stance taken in this review is to point out the African American plight against the omission of positive African connectivity to grand scale civilization. Civilization that stems from an African ancient Egypt which ultimately aided in strengthening African American civilizational dimensions. Du Bois recognized the need for this effort in The Souls of Black Folk (1903) where he harkens to a maligning past and identified the tertium quid idea of African sub-humanity. Du Bois understood the imperative need for epistemic rupture in the early twentieth century and affirmed African participation and in particular while editor of The Crisis Magazine intentionally exposes a visibly "Black King" (See Figure 1).
Humanitas as Race Marker
Continental civilizational distinctions and similarities manufactured throughout the nineteenth century by writers on the civilizational past were racially marked. (22) Such writings on civilization were not only tied to racialized constructions and what could also be construed as similar and dissimilar cultures but also served to demarcate an identified otherness. American monographs concerning perceptions about social human existence in the past lend themselves to the race-construction theme and the question that always seems to emerge is can a blank-slate nonracialized civilizational past ever exist despite variance in environments. (23) The ideal "standard" vision of the defined Western civilizational past remains fallacious because any kind of singular-group grounding becomes inextricably tied to nationalized regionalization and ultimately sets out to displace an assigned outside-group (other) as it identifies itself as an inside-group (self). Thus, the inside-group (self) specifies itself as key proponent and agent that created civilization and subsequently that either had diffused or diffuses and migrates through a historical time trajectory. (24) Writings that review the past offer an understanding about either a monogenesis or a polygenesis portrayal of humanity (biblical or scientific: either one being interchangeable) and thus there is this sense of singularity or multiplicity in origins that works to maintain an elevated civilization for a self-determining group of people.
Nationalization usually requires common ideas and shared meanings about where a people come from. (25) We find that a people go on to present their own origin as a singular event that only secondarily may occur with another group or interacted with another group. There is this vision of legacy that makes use of origin and inevitably affects the present and the future. In the case of European-American societal development and civilizational understanding, we find that European Americans have a grand conception of the Western, and metaphorically this idea inevitably converts to an empire sense of self, which remains geographically dependent. Nineteenth century portrayals of American civilization signified this traditional awareness that culminated into a hierarchy of civilizations where there were certain people designated as savage people (uncivilized and uncivilizable) and placed at the bottom extreme of a worldview. This American bounded grouping of self stems from the perception of a self-progressing and an ongoing technologically adaptive Europeanized America. The civilized are favored and are designated to the top as the highly complex system of social and machinery existence continued forward and by the early twentieth century America achieves foreordained industrialization. (26)
The ideal civilizational tendency and thought maintained incorporates a racialized American boundary with its nineteenth- and early twentieth-century understanding that considered Western intellect development as the ultimate telos that inevitably leads to further advanced civilization and thus an estimable cosmopolitanism. The greatness that becomes America is founded on the understanding that long ago European Americans faced challenges that otherwise would have concluded with a diminished American people. If nationalization manifests itself through a sense of pride and a discernment of cultural betterment over others then this natural inclination to move forward as a social group is measurable, but in the case of African American social movement away from deficient-nationalization we find that some have construed such actions as strictly ultranationalization.
The appearance of contemporary cosmopolitanism or "ultranationalism" as presented in Paul Gilroy's Against Race argues that the idea of racial difference works despite any established biological terms. Gilroy considers the term culture equally as sinister as race. Any notion of culture lends itself to fascist culture or any cultural visionary endeavor is fascist because it works to promote "restorative revolutionary transformation of human history" and he adds that they work to present a "racially stratified humanity" all in the name of dominancy. (27) His contention joined what he considered "the authoritarian and proto-fascist formations of twentieth-century black political culture" that specifically had been "animated by an intense desire to recover the lost glories of the African past." (28) He views "the idea of an unsullied and original African civilization" as life giving "to a complex archaism," which Gilroy asserts is crucial because it considers itself overriding "capitalism while remaining utterly alien to democracy." (29) Gilroy offers this as an explanadum of the great Black Atlantic conundrum that seems to him to mostly weaken rather than strengthen a harmonious de-racialized ideal. However, the fine line of cultural understanding should not be limited to a fine line division between (1) African-European American supremacist similitude, and (2) what Gilroy considers as "raciology's victims" who struggle to be self-determined. The fine line distinction is more a fuzzy set theory that remains nuanced and helps to propel a complex villain that Gilroy strategically assesses and castigates in order to beat back the sobering intent of a people's sense of duration that centers Gilroy's own creation of a neo-Nazi analogue.
Gilroy, like so many other (assumed) racial realists, looks at the singular surface of interpretation of an African past and its African American connectivity; they have not read enough of the many writers that have worked at erasing the deformed portrayal of a misanthropic Africa. The earthly humanism of the twenty-first century requires understanding that is not intellectually fascist in negating a people's necessity to join together. Propagating against resurgences of reformulated Aryanism while critically victimizing any reparable victimology for the sake of upholding status quo does not compose the better worldly integral. The problem is that scholars, like Dinesh D'Souza and his editorial on The End of Racism or Paul Gilroy and his Against Race thesis, hastily integrates the viewpoint of what they consider as an abominable act of what they mark as "race pride" and "race chauvinism" or "fascist culture" and "Black Nazism." The diatribe seems to work always at generating the same-old orchestration of criticism that interminably toils to erase any understanding and specified notions of a people's counteraction and opposition to the disapproved Europeanist tendency that all roads lead to the sole empowerment of a European America. The problem is the obsessive negation of works presented by African American intellectuals that have made use of an imperative nexus to civilization and by extension have taken part in nation building that only ventures to sustain a people. In its true intent, it has nothing to do with dominancy or capitalistic gain in the traditional ruse of a tilted democracy that indulges some, and overlooks and undermines the rest. (30)
Many have referred to the African American intellectual contention to counter European-American perceptions of African civilizational inferiority as old scrapper, vindicationist, contributionist, and even misunderstood foundationalist, but they ought to be noted as defenders of African civilizational inclusivity. (31) The problem is that traditional European American scholarship had considered the African American historical and visionary link to an African civilizational past as preposterous. African American intellectuals early on made use of ideas about an ancient Africa that had taken part in civilization and such a maintained notion was inherently part of the struggle for libratory understanding in a present civilization that considered it as an outsider. A major complaint retained by Gilroy and D'Souza, critics on the race topic, is to consider that such African American designs about the African past do not mesh with the African present or does not help the present at any one instance both in the continental and diasporic settings. There is a sublime acceptance that the majority of African Americans has been and is downtrodden; they have been oppressed throughout a time-span that has been fixated on a 1619 CE historical point.
The idea that they have taken part in any "advancing" form of civilization would be an anomaly given the condition that they find themselves in today. The present condition serves as civilizational representative and the African American place is formulated by how European-derived America determines it. This fatalistic perspective, i.e., the reality of never being civilizational in the European arrangement, is where we find that African American must be relegated by. Only working through civilization (read European-American established process) with the little that they have and uplifting themselves after they have been released from bondage becomes the solution. Impelling into their minds any import of preAmerican history (and thus ideas of an African continuum and civilizational contribution) is not going to make any difference in their immediate impoverished lives. Nineteenth-century European American writers construed that African Americans were incurable of their civilizational deprivation since they have never had the intellectual capability and must learn from the already long-experienced European American. They must work hard and attempt to scale the mountain of civilization from the very bottom position that they have been allotted since the very beginning of their existence, i.e., 1619 CE. African American intellectuals from the nineteenth century understood that a key ingredient in remediating America is to show that the African in America did not just pop up out of a nihil existence. They had a historical precedence that went beyond an ancillary position.
The objective is to show that the humanitas Africana model presents useful understanding of the African American intellectual struggle to defend African civilizational capacity via an identification with a civilizational past. The dialogics between African and European Americans beginning in the nineteenth century is critical for addressing the African American civilizational conundrum. In this analysis, several African American intellectuals who consistently perceived African civilizational parity are not perceived as fanciful. African American back-to-Africa cogitations are essential and served to point out the multiplicity of civilization. The African American civilizationist stance that served to reconfigure notions held about a noncivilizational Africa is consistent with a back-to-Africa position. There is consistency of selected knowledge that pointed to the sensibility of African continuity specifically linked to the perception of ancient African Egyptian heritage and Africans in America. This analysis also argues against divisive taxonomy on humanity, which has attended to over-ride an egalitarian humanness that is Africa-derived and overall humanist in intent. There should never be an explaining away or intentional disregard for the multicultural notion of the past.
The salient motive is to point out that the African American understanding of civilization itself is something other than a demarcated based term that included the African and by extension the African American in very important ways. This examination considers it something other than what traditionally has been assumed, i.e., that of an advanced or best way of social existence restricted only to civilizations in Europe, or Nordic, Teutonic or Aryan diffusive peoples. The universalization of civilization then begins to end the problem of distinctions and of human social divisions. Alexander Crummell in 1897, as president of the American Negro Academy, in a speech argued for the "primal need" for civilization. He presumed civilization in the form of "high art" and he construed it as moving one-dimensional. Africa was in dire need of it. He fought for what he considered to be the exemplar of a literate and textual learned civilization which should also be understood as not antithetical to the African way of being. And yet, he saw no civilizational discontinuity with American Africans.
Henry Louis Gates' analysis of CrummelTs endeavor to enter civilization from "high" literary emersion via ancient Greek learnedness is very revealing. Gates in Loose Canons contends that going through Greek syntax to get to Cambridge was Crummellian ideology and thus was the thoroughly and highly civilized pattern that nineteenth-century intellectuals thought. (32) The "high art" is not the problem but rather the problem is misrecognition of the ruminating African-American's endeavor that sought to validate full civilizational capability and establish a universalized mindset. (33) Thus, Alexander Crummell's endeavor inextricably argues for the positive and striving African soul's innovative fashion of intellectual immortality via text and this implied persevering over and transcending singular and constrained meaning. The humanitas Africana interpretive turns to geopolitical repositioning in order to denote not only holism of mind but also perpetuity of intellect, this is what the Crummellian way of envisioning "back to Africa" really sought out to prove. It was an endeavoring back to an African apotheosis. The acceptance of an African past and its African American continuity via a participatory African civilization is keenly insightful if we are to understand the multiplicity of communicative and re-interpretative history and its limitlessness in meanings.
Select African American thinkers who throughout various American oppressive historical periods such as, enslavement, reconstruction, post-reconstruction, and the early twentieth century worked at attesting African civilization and its transhistorical and transgeographical implications. Nineteenth-century works of several thinkers went on to present a perception antithetical to the racist Zeitgeist of European America. For example, two books, Joseph E. Hayne's The Black Man: or, The Natural History of Hametic Race (1849) and Robert B. Lewis and his Light and Truth: collected from the Bible and ancient and modern history: containing the universal history of the colored and the Indian race, from the creation of the world to the present time (1849) worked at establishing a sense of humanism concerning ancient African civilization. The objective is to indicate that the interminable intellectual pursuit to insist on humanitas Africana (as perceived about the past in particular those opposing ideas African American intellectuals produced) is an urgent knowledge that was swiftly recognized as unsound. The back-to-African thematic inclusion makes a case of the idea that African American intellectual connection to an African civilizational past was equitable and contributory to all other perceptions maintained as it countered European-American intellectuals who advocated for stratified humanism and an exclusion of the Africans in America as they were deemed incapable of being full-fledged participants in civilization.
The pursuit of authenticating African American civilizationist proficiency remained consistent throughout various productions of knowledge. Henry Louis Gates' African American literature anthology endeavor in the late 1980s is yet another civilizationist effort since up until that time there has not been a Norton version publication. Gates and other scholars sailed (just as Crummell) to their own metaphorical forms of Cambridge to reveal humanitas Africana and its pinnacle humanism. The template that Gates sought with the task of completing W. W. Norton publication of a Norton Anthology of Afro-American Literature can be viewed as yet another accomplishment at presenting testimony to the civilizationist capabilities as previously proscribed in Crummellian humanitas.
Another task in the early part of the twenty-first century produced an Africana Encyclopedia and other various African American-themed encyclopedias by several scholars, which furthered the civilizationist itinerary. Anthology and encyclopedia projects confirm the high-end or rather "high-art" civilizationist achievement. Advancing an African civilizational past does include an analysis of recurrent raciological expansion of phylogenetic reconstructive undertaking. To suppose that there can be no project or to rule out the humanitas Africana or to cluster all the extreme ends of one single centrality while proselytizing one's own kind of visioning or any kind of singular visioning into the past and into one domain cannot assist in rightfully building a holism that will work for a multi-peopled society.
Kelly Miller in a paper written for the American Negro Academy and an African American member of the American Negro Academy and a mathematician at Howard University at the time refuted similar kinds of human disparity impulses held in 1896. Miller disputed against "bell-curve" data in a work entitled Race Traits and Tendencies of the American Negro. Frederick L. Hoffman a German immigrant and Prudential Insurance statistician wrote Race Traits, which can be considered a race-constructive work that was written for the American Economic Association to "validate" high insurance rates being offered to an inferior and supposedly "dying race" of people. In the twentieth century, just over one hundred years later, Hermstein and Murray point out a similar hierarchical and raciological structure presented with their statistical scale that went from "very bright," "bright," "normal," "dull," to "very dull" and which made an assessment of tripartite grouping of African American, Latino, and White. The African American preference for humanitas Africana was a means to end such abusive and always falsifiable "race" measurements with their intent on excluding African Americans from American civilization and back-to-Africa intellectualization was intent ending heretical categorizations.
Emigration to a Black Past
In a perceived humanitas Africana context, a people's composition about her or his civilizational past does not need to defeat another people's idea of it. In defense of neohumanist knowledge, this theoretical analysis differs from prior scholarly conceptions of the African-American intellectual endeavor to defend their civilizational potentiality and involvement. This reading of back-to-Africa intellectualization does not support purist and race-thinking, ultra-national ideology and does not project hate knowledge at any geographical region or group of people in order to evangelize a model of lineal cultural superiority. Humanitas Africana explication strips off singular meaning to get at the evolution of morphic terms as they may apply to a people or a perception of a people to reveal the wide spectrum of civilization. The etymological delving serves to get at an initial intent and to glean the multiplicity of meaning thereafter.
Perceptions held about the past have traditionally included uncovered, embedded, rooted, and expressed racial and geopolitical meaning. Transformative racialized meanings of civilization throughout time are processed as they recur via postcolonial (and even neo-imperial) hermeneutics that still control through reformulated semantics, posture, and influence. The use of humanitas Africana implied revealing an epistemology of African civilization and thus it is not relegated to any single description of physical and/or biological and pejorative Africanity. The humanitas Africana account (and by manifestation back-to-Africa thinking) tends towards an Africa, i.e., a place different from that initially perceived by a European Roman imperinm.
The climatological and ideological propensity of a region and its continental and contrastive semantics of a communal-tending people becomes the foundation for an assigned racialization. If we are to define civilization in terms of uniformed laity then there would be no need for disparate terminology, and yet the stripping away of barbarism or savagery (as proffered by Diopian invective) adds variant recognition of an idealized human civilizational persistence. (34) Reading knowledge from the humanitas Africana perspective (e.g. Diopian deconstruction) then becomes a regionally placed analysis that tends to excise the European American casing, which customarily remains inert in a raciological and socio-hierarchical framework.
The back-to-Africa rationalized model versus the European-American civilizationist model has been reduced to a demarcation that inevitably displays contentious junctures of varying historicist meaning. One counter-argument held is that any humanitas Africana theory can simply be considered eurocentrism in blackface. Any form of humanitas can be distinguished as a contemptuous format that must be dismantled in order to uphold the proper common humanism that does not negate any other for the sake of its own central existence. Multi-central humanism becomes the goal as we reread and distinguish the African humanitas pastiche from the European-American epistemological landscape. The emphasis is on European-American civilizational demarcations that have necessarily functioned to encompass a marginal civilizational position of African Americans. The question of polar opposition between savage and civilized becomes a paradigmatic one.
The European American model emphasizes a base savagery that inevitably will be directed towards advanced cosmopolitanism, which is construed as being inherently part of the universal process of what it deems as the ideal civilizational progression. The perceived savage's societal existence garners starting-point zero in a scale that peaks off at the maximum point of European American civilization. Scales, in the many anthropologized analyses of the human civilizational past matter a great deal. Enlarged encephalizational levels in cubic centimeters must increase; prognathism must move towards orthognathism (brachycephalic racialization), conceptions of intelligence from Scholastic Aptitude Test scores must move above one thousand points, and finally the historical teleology must move from prehistory (Ethiopian) to history (ancient Egyptian). All display a European placement on expressed forms of human civilizational hierarchy. (35)
The European significance of a recognized societal being requires writing and it must also obtain a name. Returning to Africa mentally and finding worldly inclusion displays a proclivity to contribute. The process of naming of a people becomes critical. Nomenclature matters in the sense that every region or locality refers to itself as something. America, a geographic region in the Western Hemisphere, is named after the Italian voyager and navigator, Amerigo Vespucci, who believed that the New World was not part of Asia. (36) It was a German clergyman and cosmographer Martin Waldseemuller (Hylacomilus) who loved to make up names even his own (putting together the words "wood," "lake," and "mill," hence "Waldseemiiller") and who worked on a more up-to-date map (a revision of the prior Ptolemaic one) that came to honor Vespucci with creating and adding Vespucci's name to the newly discovered portion of the Mundus Novus. The term "America" is a Latinized version of Amerigo, i.e., America. (37) Europe obtains its name from Greek myth. Zeus seduced the young Europa while disguised as a white bull and he takes her to the island of Crete. Europa ultimately marries the King of Crete and one of her sons named Minos becomes the successor. Thus, the author of any textualization (and use of term) is located to a place and so too are the ideas created about a place and going back to origins serves as critical identity reconfiguration. Anything with a fixed appellation is representative of language usage and accrues meaning.
This theoretical application on the integrative civilizational stance taken by the African-American intellectuals and their positioning a humanitas Africana like the ideas proffered by Paul Cuffe, Martin Delany, Frederick Douglass (at one point), and Du Bois and others serves as not only commentary on Europeanist-knowledge and dividedness of the civilizational past but also serves to make the better whole. Their work made use of a human science (e.g., archaeological anthropology) in a way that worked at ending civilizational parameters and restrictive meaning. The humanitas Africana task compares the question of meaning of the civilizational past and assumes an all-inclusive platform and not just human relativist theoretical framework but serves to go beyond parallel locations. Africa, Europe, civilization, West and the rest of racialized markers are disrobed. The problem of envisioning an Africa in an ancillary position in the singularity of civilization has always been a contention for African-American intellectuals.
In this article I noted African American thinkers who contended with a negated African historical universalism that quite readily excluded the African as it put forward a European foundational perception on a singular trajectory of civilization. Traditional historicity has had a deleterious effect and only worked to perpetuate dominancy via an acknowledged and unacknowledged European supremacy. The specified thinkers offered in this article engaged in humanitas Africana and as noted not only manifest a back to Africa consciousness but also intentionally grappled with alternative forms of the divisive-thinking strictures of Europeanism. This review on the humanitas Africana effort accentuated select instances of their intent on repositioning African antiquity, i.e. they look back to properly move forward. The question of civilizational identity politics and the need to build a nurturing "home" was inherent in this analysis. The goal was to show occurrences of civilizational strivings for and significance of the African past.
(1) Berry, Mary Frances, and John W. Blassingame. Long Memory: The Black Experience in America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1982. Berry and Blassingame's preface points out that "[t]he black American was hewn from the massive rock of African civilization and sculpted into new shapes by the forces unleashed in the attempt to forge the first new nation on the continent of North America. From the black perspective, America has, throughout its history, been a country living in permanent contradiction between its ideal and its practices. Still, the oppression and exploitation the blacks endured made them the quintessential Americans" (ix). It should be noted that this African-American historical difference has not been properly addressed; this "black perspective" rightly drives important understanding about what it means to be an American.
(2) Du Bois, W. E. B. "The Souls of Black Folk." Writings. Ed. Nathan Huggins. New York, N.Y.: The Library of America, 1986, pp. 357-547.
(3) Walker, David. Article I, Our Wretchedness in Consequence of Slavery (1829) noted that the Pharaoh's were a "gang of devils" (Walker's italics Gates Key Debates p. 28). The Egyptians treated "Lord's people" as bad as "Christian Americans" treated enslaved African Americans (Gates Key Debates, 28). Walker goes on to argue that "I would only mention that the Egyptians, were Africans or coloured people, such as we are--some of them yellow and others dark--a mixture of Ethiopians and the natives of Egypt--about the same as you see coloured people of the United States at the present day (p. 28). He goes on to reference the biblical story of Joseph. He continually states "the condition of the Israelites was better under the Egyptians than ours is under the whites" and this is repeatedly with allusions to the fact intermarriage between Israelites and Egyptians was allowed and it would have been abominable in nineteenth century United States (p. 29). He continues to state, "[w]e will notice the sufferings of Israel some further, under heathen Pharaoh, compared with ours under the enlightened Christians of America" (all italics are Walker's p. 29). This comparative analysis like analysis made by Olaudah Equiano with continental Africans and Great Britain and United States' system of governance serves to make a case for civilizational similitude or in the case of Walker dissimilitude. Walker extends his presentation in his Appeal to debunk African subhumanity and tribal links to monkeys and orang-outangs as well as Jefferson's claims on African inferiority. He slightly alludes to the Africanness of Egypt but sides with Biblical assertions of enslaving Pharaoh's Egypt. In the case of Williams, see George Washington Williams, A History of the Negro Troops in the War of the Rebellion, 18611865: Preceded by A Review of the Military Services of Negroes in Ancient and Modern Times, (New York: Harper, 1888). In his analysis he included ancient Egyptians as "Negroes."
(4) Gay, Peter. The Enlightenment: An Interpretation: The Rise of Modern
Paganism (Vol. 1), 1966.
(5) Delany, Martin Robison. "The Condition, Elevation, Emigration, and Destiny of the Colored People of the United States (1852)." Ed. Howard Brotz, 1999., pp. 37-101. Delany argued that "[f]rom the earliest period of the history of nations, the African race had been known as an industrious people, cultivators of the soil. The grain fields of Ethiopia and Egypt were the themes of the poet, and their gamers, the subject of the historian (p.58). Also, Douglass, Frederick. "The Claims of the Negro Ethnologically Considered." African-American Social and Political Thought, 1850-1920. Ed. Howard Brotz. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 1999. 226-44. Douglass noted that "[t]he fact that Egypt was one of the earliest abodes of learning and civilization, is as firmly established as are the everlasting hills, defying, with a calm front the boasted mechanical and architectural skill of nineteenth century... Greece and Rome--and through them Europe and America have received their civilization from the ancient Egyptians. This fact is not denied by anybody. But Egypt is in Africa. Pity that it had not been in Europe, or in Asia, or better still in America!" (p.233).
(6) Martin, Ben L. "From Negro to Black to African American: The Power of Names and Naming" in Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 106, No. 1 (Spring, 1991), pp. 83-107. Also, Fairchild, Halford H. Black, "Negro, or Afro-American?: The Differences Are Crucial!" in Journal of Black Studies, Vol. 16, No. 1 (Sep., 1985), pp. 47-55.
(7) Crummell, Alexander, and Wilson Jeremiah Moses. Destiny and Race: Selected Writings, 1840-1898. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1992, (p.5).
(8) Bay, Mia. The White Image in the Black Mind: African-American Ideas About White People, 1830-1925, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999). All the mentioned intellectuals range in the nineteenth century. Mia Bay refers to this defensive African-American intellectualism notion as a "redeemer race" endeavor (pp.38-53).
(9) Stanley Cornish and John Brown Russwurm were conscientious advocates of the anti-slavery movement. The back-to-Africa American zeitgeist unfortunately divided many African Americans. In 1829 Cornish resigned from the paper that he helped start and Freedom Journal was suspended for a time. John Brown Russwurm was the first to get a college degree from Bowdoin College in Maine and he went as far as to move to Liberia and stand by his words. Stanley Cornish adamantly opposed moving to Liberia because people like him thought it was unhealthy and truly a strange place. People like Cornish believed the voluntary colonization model advocated by the American Colonization Society was a contrivance by pro-slavery advocates resolved on transforming the United States into an African-American enslaved-only America. Also to convert Liberia into an American analogue with state replication.
(10) See Alexander Crummell's article published in 1862 titled "The Negro Race not under a Curse: An Examination of Genesis ix.25" in The Future of Africa (pp.327-354). Crummell defends African-American intellect with a refutation that only Canaan was cursed and not Ham or any of his other children. Consequentially, the defense endeavored to erase the legitimacy of African enslavement and the perception of African-American inferiority. Thus, Ham is construed by Pennington as well as Crummell and others as a participant in civilization and intellectually as capable as all the other brothers are.
(11) The perception of ideational convergence was a maintained idea, nineteenth-century archaeology, for example, made use of the idea of diffusion to support the evolutionary idea of change and the advancement of Western civilization, see Bruce Trigger, A History of Archaeological Thought (p.79), and Marvin Harris, The Rise of Anthropological Theory (p. 174).
(12) Trevor-Roper, Hugh. The Rise of Christian Europe. New York: Harcourt, Brace, and World, 1965. Tonybee, Arnold. War and Civilization. New York: Oxford University Press, 1950. Trevor-Roper assesses that Africa has contributed "nothing but the unrewarding gyrations of barbarous tribes." Toynbee, maintained that Africa did "not contributed positively to any civilization." This sentiment continued with pro-Southern analyses of American Reconstruction by historian William A. Dunning and political scientist John W. Burgess two former Columbia University professors. See Dunning's work Reconstruction: Political & Economic, 1865-1877 (1905) and Burgess's Reconstruction and the Constitution 1866-1876 (1902). Nott, Josiah Clark and George R. Gliddon in Types of Mankind (1854), Chapter II, certainly position ancient Egypt as the start and used ancient Egypt to prove not only that it predated the Garden of Eden but also that the civilized ancient Egyptians themselves practiced the separation of "Negroes" and Caucaasians. Nott and Gliddon used ancient Egypt to construe two separate species, i.e. the African as inferior and the Caucasian as superior. Ancient Egypt represented civilization but yet non-African. Also, see Crania Egyptica (1844) in particular.
(13) Delany, Martin Robison. "Principia of Ethnology: The Origin of Races and Color, with an Archeological Compendium of Ethiopian and Egyptian Civilization, from Years of Careful Examination and Enquiry." Martin R. Delany: A Documentary Reader. Edited by Robert S. Levine. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003 (pp.468-83).
(14) Stewart, Maria argued for recognition of a civilizational Africa in an eloquent speech she starts out with "[y]es, poor despised Africa was once the resort of sages and legislators of other nations, was esteemed the school for learning, and the most illustrious men in Greece flocked thither for instruction." "An Address Delivered at the African Masonic Hall" (1833) excerpt from Gates' Key Debates on page 62. In the twentieth century Du Bois expended three extensive monographs which are representative of the humanitas Africana effort and included an African Egypt. Du Bois' work can be construed as a trilogy that persistently continued the offer a civilizational Africa. See, The Negro (1915), Black Folk: Then and Now; an Essay in the History and Sociology of the Negro Race (1939), and The World and Africa; an Inquiry into the Part Which Africa Has Played in World History (1947). Lastly, St. Clair Drake delved further and mentions in the preface to Black Folk Here and There (1987) Center for AfroAmerican Studies: UCLA Publication, '[wjhile Dr. Du Bois chose to develop a connected narrative portraying the broad sweep of the history of Negroes in African and the New world diaspora over five millennia, I have selected several problems for analysis and examined them through time in a number of localized situations... This treatment of the data constitutes the 'here and there' dimension, in contrast to Dr. Du Bois's 'then and now" (xxiii).
(15) See Moses' Afrotopia (79-81) reading of Douglass, Delany, Crummell, and Blyden on ancient Egypt as African civilization. On the civilizational capability there was either no link to Egypt because such a link would only add credence to the decadence of civilization and the validity of the Hamitic (and by extension African American) curse or there was separation from an enslaving European-like ancient Egyptian civilization and thus identification with Jewish enslavement and thus anti-ancient Egyptian sentiment.
(16) Crummell, Destiny and Race, page 61. Also, see Crummell's essay titled "A Defence of the Negro Race America from the Assaults and Charges of Rev. J. L. Tucker, D.D. of Jackson, Mississippi" published in 1891 where he counter-argued the wrong assumptions held about continental Africans, and he states, "I am speaking of the native Negro, (a) All along the West Coast of Africa the family tie and the marriage bond are as strong as among any other primitive people. The very words in which Cicero and Tacitus describe the homes and families of the Germanic tribes can as truly be ascribed to the people of the West Coast of Africa" (p.87) (italics presented by Crummell). Crummell compares nineteenth-century Africans with ancient Germanic people not only to correct the fixated morality trait that has been wrongly assessed by Rev. Tucker but also to proffer the civilizational propensity that is to come from the African overall.
(17) For Edward Wilmot Blyden, who was secretary of state of Liberia in the 1860s and writing about his experiences, African indigenous tendency for socialism was admired, i.e., especially the importance of the collective over the individual which was considered an African distinctive trait that was unEuropean (African Life and Customs, p.30). Blyden in African Life and Customs first published in 1908 considered the derivation of the Egyptian pyramid of Cheops as an African creation that came from collective termite emulation, and by extension he offers veneration to all Africans of the past within an understanding of African civilizational potentiality (p.30).
(18) This comes from Ripley's seminal work The Races of Europe (p.546), which was cited in Ivan Hannaford's Race: The History of an Idea in the West (p.329).
(19) Hannaford notes that David Hume (Scottish philosopher 1711-1776) believed that Negroes were "naturally" inferior because they never created a civilization or because they never had one individual who ever became renown in the arts and sciences (p.216). There is also the work of Comte Joseph-Arthur de Gobineau (French philosopher 1816-1882) who as Hannaford considered was "pessimistic about the capacity of the Negro and Cherokees to be brought to civilization by governmental institutions of the kind set up by the framers of the United States Constitution. He clearly regarded these North American peoples as brutes occupying the lower strata of society and asserted that their enslavement exemplified his principle of natural inequality" (p.267). There is also the work of Josiah Clark Nott and George R. Gliddon Types of Mankind where Gliddon who was a co-writer of this infamous raceological book and who wrote a reply to Samuel George Morton's solicitation for help in his craniometric endeavor in November of 1837. At the very beginning of their association together Gliddon states that "[w]ith regard to your projected work, (Crania Aegyptica) I will, with every deference, frankly state a few evanescent impressions, which, were I with you, could be more fully developed. 1 am hostile to the opinion of the African origin of the Egyptians" (p.xxxvi). Gliddon had been part of a tradition (call it ethnological, biblical, scientific, egyptological and primarily European-American) that by 1837 had already been established in maintaining the anti-African civilizational notion.
(20) See Keto, C. Tsehloane. Vision and Time: Historical Perspective of an Africa-Centered Paradigm. Lanham, Md.; Oxford: University Press of America, 2001. Keto (p.25) cites Bulhof (p. 19). See also, Bulhof, Ilse N. "Imagination and Interpretation in History." Literature and History. Eds. Leonard Schulze and Walter D. Wetzels. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1983, pp. 3-25.
(21) James Forten in a 1817 meeting at the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church in Philadelphia helped to solidify over 3,000 attendees who unanimously rejected African colonization and emphasized connection with those who would remain enslaved. See William Loren Katz, ed., Eyewitness: The Negro in American History, New York: Pitman, 1967 pp. 146-14. Also, Forten wrote a letter to Paul Cuffee excerpted in Gates and Burton's Key Debates on pages 53-54. Garvey in 1921 noted that immediately after World War I the Council of the League of Nations (actually Supreme Council of Allies) decided that the territories taken from Germany in West Africa would be divided by France and England without ever discussing it with "civilized Negroes of the world" (p.280). Garvey indicated the "downfall of civilization" would inevitably occur. He also warned that such oppression and exploitation would "mean the ultimate destruction of the present civilization, and the building up of a new civilization founded upon mercy, justice and equality" (p.280). The Address to the Second UNIA Convention (which was intentionally held right before Du Bois' Second Pan-African Congress which subsequently occurred at London, Brussels and Paris) was published in The Negro World on September 10, 1921 and it is excerpted in Gates and Burton's Key Debates pages 278-282. For Garvey, "Africa has been slumbering; but she was slumbering for a purpose. Africa still possesses her hidden mysteries; Africa has unused talents, and we are unearthening them now for the coming conflict... Ah, history teaches us of the rise and fall of nations, races and empires. Rome fell in her majesty; Greece fell in her triumph; Babylon, Assyria, Carthage, Prussia, the German Empire--all fell in their pomp and power; the French Empire fell from the sway of the great Napoleon, from the dominion of the indomitable Corsican soldier. As they fell in the past, so will nations fall in the present age, and so will they fall in the future ages to come, the result of their unrighteousness" (p.281). Back-to-Africa thinking in the early twentieth century as with nineteenth century humanitas endeavoring offered global amelioration and futurity.
(22) Blaut presents a study on Eurocentric history and he notes that solely one of the eight, Max Weber, made claims of European inherited civilizational superiority based on race, the rest made use of environment and culture (p.200). Blaut does not elaborate on how he is construing culture or rather how culture is different from racialized constructions. Blaut noted however that Weber's history was "tunnel history" which meant that European intellectualism maintained a sense of "a tunnel of time" which includes the perception that all societies outside of Europe were traditionally and, in dissimilar levels, "irrational" (p.20).
(23) Moreover, certain paleoprimatological research should not resolutely explain away variant perceptions; early twentieth-century, Western and scientific intelligentsia intent on validating superiority produced anthropometric interpretation on anatomical remains which became quite useful to support skewed and racializing comparative assessments. In the nineteenth century Haitian anthropologist Antenor Firmin argued against the misuse of anthropology. See his work titled The Equality of the Human Races (Positivist Anthropology). New York and London, Garland Publishing, Inc. (2000). Firmin's book long ago critiqued racist anthropology, it was a book primarily written as a response to Gobineau's intensely racist anthropological work that had been written back in 1853 through 1855. In the early twentieth century Madison Grant and Lothrop Stoddard's beliefs particularly their presentation on differing typology proposed human retrograding propensity away from "advanced" existence and they make use of Africa-first entities to build on prior race thinking and geoprehistories which of course plague human parity. See Nordic theory presented Madison Grant in his 1916 work titled The Passing of the Great Race. Also, see Theodore Lothrop Stoddard a eugencist and American historian who wrote the alarmist text on the demise of "white" civilization titled The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy in 1920.
(24) This would be the explanation presented by imperialist archaeology that begins as nationalist archaeology (Trigger, A History of Archaeological Thought, p.79-80). Trigger notes that a world-systemic idea of "greatness" (imperialist archaeological idea) can transpose itself back towards a nationalist and even a colonial thought.
(25) Darren Davis and Ronald Brown point out that "nationalism is both a curse and a blessing" (p.239). Davis and Brown comment, "nationalism feeds into the intolerance and antipathy toward others" (p.239). Nationalism has an allusion understanding to help a people grapple within a society and more importantly, it has the characteristic of "self-determination" (p.240). In the case of African-American nationalism Davis and Brown's study present that their nationalist ideology is associated with more intense perceptions of racism and fairness in American society than a strong social identity attachment (p.251). It becomes more of a political and viable option that is made use of as African Americans remain on an American assimilationist track.
(26) Ralph Young notes that progress throughout the American Gilded Age (1877-1912) included this destined sense of industrialized growth all precipitating from the extrapolation of Darwinian ideology presented by Sumner. The "Rockefeller, Carnegie, Vanderbilt and Morgan" types who customarily took advantage of labor, were regarded as the fittiest of civilization who rightfully exploited the worker, and they were "scientifically justified" i.e., social Darwinian thought helped to merit this sense of civilizational advancement (p.28). There was also this sense that the civilized could help the uncivilized, "Theodore Roosevelt insisted that industrial 'civilized' nations had a duty to dominate the backward 'uncivilized' nations by bestowing on them the benefits of Western culture and Christianity" (p.28). Various groups had to confront such harmful societal beliefs.
(27) Paul Gilroy Against Race, p.332.
(28) Paul Gilroy Against Race, p.333.
(29) Paul Gilroy Against Race, p.333.
(30) Charles Mills argues that "[i]n the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson characterized native Americans as 'merciless Indian Savages,' and in the Constitution, blacks, of course, appear only obliquely, through the famous '60 percent solution" (p.28). Mills presents a case for deconstructing European governmental formations that adheres to what he tenns a "Racial Contract" where its use "creates a transnational white polity, a virtual community of people linked by their citizenship in Europe at home and abroad (Europe proper, the colonial greater Europe, and the 'fragments' of Euro-America, Euro-Australia, etc.), and constituted in opposition to their indigenous subjects" (p.29).
(31) Martin Bernal (p.436) offers a review on revisionist historians and he refers to Carruthers (Essays in Ancient Egyptan Studies, p.34), where it was noted that African-American scholars are divided into three groups by level of competences, and all are considered to be "old scrappers." Also, note that this is the only segment where Bernal mentions Diop, although his own work seems to present a similar argument concerning ancient Egyptian origins of Greek civilization. St. Clair Drake Black Folk Here and There (xvii) considered the endeavor of African-American intellectuals who considered themselves part of the "vindicationist tradition" that fought against the notion that "Negroes were an inferior animal-like breed of mankind unfit to be treated as equals by other people." Moses (Afrotopia, p.23) referenced Drake and also mentions Patterson's "Rethinking Black History" essay and Patterson's label of various African-American writers as "contributionist" because they were intellectuals who believed that "African peoples have made a contribution to the progress of mankind" (23). Carruthers insists that the nineteenth-century African-American dialogue involved what he termed the "White Question" how will African Americans relate or fit in with a European-derived America (Intellectual Warfare 168). The problem is that the nineteenth-century dialogue has passed on through to the twentieth century. Carruthers points out that "Afro-American" scholars have taken the foundational work of David Walker, Martin Delany, Edward Wilmot Blyden and Alexander Crummell as key intellectuals who have helped to set the institution of "African Nationalism in the United States" and who have been misrepresented, misquoted and quite rightly misunderstood (Intellectual Warfare, p. 168).
(32) Henry Louis Gates, Loose Canons: Notes on the Culture Wars. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992, (p.72-75).
(33) Crummell in the address that Gates refers to titled "The Attitude of The American Mind Toward the Negro Intellect" delivered on December 28, 1897, recites the story of learning ancient Greek. He refers to two lawyers from Boston, Smauel E. Sewell and David Lee Child, who dined with "the great John C. Calhoun" senator from South Carolina who then uttered "[t]hat if he could find a negro who knew the Greek syntax, he would then believe that the Negro was a human being and should be treated as a man" (p.11). Crummell notes that Calhoun himself went to Yale to study Greek Syntax and his son and grandson also went to Yale to study Greek Syntax. Crummell makes mention of this not just to present the "high learning" that was considered esteemed but to point out the contradiction that a learned man like Calhoun did not realize that "there was not a school, nor a college in which a black boy could learn his A.B.Cs" (p. 11). Crummell argued that "the great Calhoun" should have noticed that the "Southern States forbade Negro instruction under the severest penalties" (p. 11). What mattered more to Crummell than the privilege to attend a place like Yale and learn Greek Syntax was the lack of opportunities garnered to African-Americans for any kind of educational advancement overall.
(34) Virgil's Aeneas looks towards the Carthaginian Dido (Africa) and her people as an emulative civilization. One people become capable of extrapolating and transpositioning another people's societal way of existing. Diop emphasized the need for cultural unity in a federated modern Africa. He noted the continuum of a transposable civilization within Africa itself. The word "civilization" derives from the Latin word civis, and is translated as "citizen." The better meaning is that all of humanity or rather the entire world worked at citizenry in a variety of forms that made way for human social progress. The narrow view of civilization is a modern practice and its interpretation based on a restricted social continuum is what true holism, and multiplicity works to dismantle.
(35) Hermstein, Richard J., an American psychologist, and Charles Murray, an American political scientist, wrote The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life (1994) and argued that human intelligence is primarily influenced by inheritance and environment and is the best predictor of a variety of social issues particularly socioeconomic status and/or educational level. Also, on the case of phrenological critiques see Cheikh Anta Diop who is considered to be one of the greatest scholars to come out of the African world in the twentieth century. He has been described as being the founder of a "new concept" of African history. African Origins of Civilization (1974) is a one-volume English translation edition of the major sections of two other books titled nations negres et culture (1954) and anteriorite des civilisations negres (1967). Diop's work challenged and changed the directions of attitudes about the place of the African peoples in world history. His works initially date back to the 1950s which were translated into English in 1974. His ideas have been the prime catalyst for a total reconsideration of the role that African people have played in history and their impact on the development of early civilizations. Diopian strengths is its prophetic vision about what is at stake when dealing with the prehuman to human legacy specifically and includes the significance of African ubiquity in world civilization.
(36) Amerigo Vespucci, et al. Letters from a New World, where Garry Wills' forward points out that in Vespucci's second published letter (that written to Lorenzo di Pier Francesco de' Medici) "Vespucci treats the southern and northern parts of the area he and Columbus explored as a single continent that is not Asia" (p.xii, italics by Wills). In addition, if we read Letter V of Mundus Novus, the fifth published letter, Vespucci literarily states, "I have discovered a continent in those southern regions [South America] that is inhabited by more numerous peoples and animals than our Europe, or Asia or Africa..." (p.45). The precise distinction made was what attributed the naming of the land after Amerigo.
(37) Masini and Gori state that "Amerigo Vespucci-banker merchant, astronomer, writer, explorer-corrected Columbus's mistake" (p.vii). Also, Garry Wills' forward to Amerigo Vespucci et. al. Letters from a New World notes that there was a class disparity between Vespucci and Columbus; Columbus came from working class Genoese stock and had limited education unlike Vespucci who was part of the professional class of Florence and had ties to the Medici family. Vespucci also knew various languages and was considered learned in various other areas (pp.x-xi). Thus, America is named after an "esteemed" European Renaissance man and not after any pre-colonial inhabitants of the New World.
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|Publication:||Afro-Americans in New York Life and History|
|Date:||Jul 1, 2015|
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