Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Life, Actions & Writings of Brother Asa Hilliard

Video pays tribute to the late Dr. Asa Hilliard:



Dr. Asa Grant Hilliard, III

Dr. Asa G. Hilliard III is the Fuller E. Callaway Professor of Urban Education at Georgia State University, with joint appointments in the Department of Educational Policy Studies and the Department of Educational Psychology and Special Education. A teacher, psychologist, and historian, he began his career in the Denver Public Schools. He earned a B.A. in Educational Psychology, M.A. in Counseling, and Ed.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Denver, where he also taught in the College of Education and in the Philosophy colloquium of the Centennial Scholars Honors Program.

Dr. Hilliard served on the faculty at San Francisco State University for eighteen years. During that time he was a Department Chair for two years, Dean of Education for eight years, and was consultant to the Peace Corps and Superintendent of Schools in Monrovia, Liberia for two years.

He has participated in the development of several national assessment systems, such as proficiency assessment for professional educators, and developmental assessments of young children and infants. He has been active in forensic psychology, serving as an expert witness on the winning side in several landmark federal cases on test validity and bias.

Dr. Hilliard is a founding member of the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations and serves as its first Vice President. He is the co-developer of a popular educational television series, Free Your Mind, Return To The Source: African Origins, as well as having produced videotapes and educational materials on African History through his production company, Waset Education Productions.

Dr. Hilliard has written numerous technical papers, articles, and books on testing, Ancient African History, teaching strategies, public policy, cultural styles, and child growth and development. In addition, he has consulted with many of the leading school districts, universities, government agencies, and private corporations on valid assessment, curriculum equity and teacher training. Several of his programs in pluralistic curriculum, assessment, and valid teaching have become national models. He has also been the recipient of numerous honors and awards.


The Education of African People:
Contemporary Imperatives

by Asa G. Hilliard III Ed.D and Luisa Martin

... In my music, my plays, my films, I want to carry always this central idea: to be African. Multitudes of men have died for less worthy ideals: it is even more eminently worth living for.

Paul Robeson, 1934

... There can be no greater tragedy than to forget one's origin and finish despised and hated by the people among whom one grew up. To have that happen would be the sort of thing to make me rise up from my grave.

Paul Robeson, 1938

(From I want to be African: Paul Robeson and the Ends of Nationalist Theory and Practice 1919–1945 by Sterling Stuckey)1

"What do I mean? I mean this: that while Booker T. Washington seeks to promote the material advancement of the black man in the United States, and W. E. Burghart Du Bois his social enfranchisement amid surroundings and in the atmosphere uncongenial to racial development, Edward Wilmont Blyden has sought for more that a quarter of a century to reveal everywhere the African unto himself; to fix his attention upon original ideas and conceptions as to his place in the economy of the world; to point out to him his work as a race among the races of men; lastly, and most important of all, to lead him back unto self-respect. ... Here, then is work for cultured West Africans to start a reform which will be world-wide in its effects among Ethiopians, remembering as a basis that we, as people, have our own statutes, the customs and institutions of our fore-fathers, which we cannot neglect and live. ...Now, if the soul that is in the Ethiopian, even in the United States, remains Ethiopian, which it does, to judge from me coon songs which have enriched the sentiment of making by their pathos, then, I say, the foregoing words, true as everyone must admit they are, point distinctly to the impossibility of departing from nature's way any hope of lasting good to African nationality."2

African people all over the world are in a life and death struggle for survival, but many are not conscious of it. The education and socialization processes to which we are exposed rarely help us to gain a holistic perspective of what is happening to us. We do not know who we are. We do not know from whence we have come. We do not know where we are going.

For thousands of years, African on the continent of Africa and in its diaspora have operated independently to create sophisticated educational socialization systems, some of which became the envy of the world.3 Most of us are ignorant of this valuable heritage. Much of it is as meaningful to us today as it was for centuries, and even millennia.4

It is no accident that we are alienated from and ignorant of our cultural heritage, its vitality, and its utility for us now. Our alienation and ignorance is the product of calculating oppressors who enslaved, colonized, segregated, and created ideologies of white supremacy.5, 6 These system's and practices have their remnants in the world today. The calculated strategy of suppressing and falsifying our history, suppressing and stigmatizing our identity (ethnic cleansing), and propagandizing us with teaching of white supremacy, is something that continues today in both overt and covert forms.7 The primary purpose of all of these forms of oppression was to divide, and therefore dominate us. Even today, there are powerful people who intend to see that we are disintegrated as a people. The labels "liberal" and "conservative" have no meaning here. The end goal of both ends of the political spectrum, and in the middle, in the "mainstream" Western world is the same. In both cases, Africans as a group are seen by Europeans as "the problem."

Before the problem of what to do about the education of African people can be approached, a fundamental decision must be made. It is a decision about ethnicity, rather than "race" or class, both of which tend to be obvious, though not central. Quite simple, if our ethnicity does not matter, then there is no need for this essay nor for us to try to do anything as a group. But if it does matter, then we must be clear about the fact that we belong to an ethnic family with all of the responsibilities that come with that decision. That culture is not "tribal," it is African.

"The final gift of African 'tribalism' in the nineteenth century was its life as a lingering memory in he minds of American slaves. That memory enabled them to go back to the sense of community in the traditional African setting and to include all Africans in their common experience of oppression in North America. It is greatly ironic, therefore, that African ethnicity, an obstacle to African nationalism in the twentieth century, was in this way the principal avenue to black unity in ante-bellum America. Whether free black or slave, whither in the North or in the South, the ultimate impact of that development was profound. During the process of their becoming a single people, Yoruba, Akans, Ibos, Angolans, and others were present on slave ships to America and experienced a common horror—unearthly moans and piercing shrieks, the smell of filth and the stench of death, all during the violent rhythms and quiet coursings of ships at sea. As such, slave ships were the first real incubators of slave unity across cultural lines, cruelly revealing irreducible links from one ethnic group to the other, fostering resistance thousands of miles before the shores of the new land appeared on the horizon—before there was mention of rights in North America..."8

(Europeans) know the role that ethnicity plays in the geopolitical scheme of things, and that it is of extreme importance. That is why the historical culture war on Africans was waged, to prevent any re-emergence of ethnic consciousness among us, to prevent the unity that will lead to effective mobilization of our efforts as a group and to effective resistance to oppression.

But now, games are being played. Many Europeans know full well what rules are in the world. They know the role that ethnicity plays in the geopolitical scheme of things, and that it is of extreme importance. That is why the historical culture war on Africans was waged, to prevent any re-emergence of ethnic consciousness among us, to prevent the unity that will lead to effective mobilization of our efforts as a group and to effective resistance to oppression. From the dust cover of Joel Kotkin's book, Tribes, we see the following.9

"In this original examination of business, history and ethnicity, Joel Kotkin shows how "global tribes" have been at the center of the world's economy for hundreds of years—and how they will dominate commerce in the twenty-first century. Though the world's economy is becoming increasingly interdependent, Kotkin shows that as national borders dissolve, the impact of "tribalism" has never been stronger. And he offers some intriguing predictions on how certain "tribes" will adapt to coming economic changes."

Among the "tribes" featured in the book by Kotkin are:

"The Jews: The oldest of global tribes, the Jews figured prominently in the origins of modern transnational business. Although small in numbers, and in the face of their millennia-old dispersion, they have produced more Nobel Prize winners—and billionaires— than most European and East Asian countries.

"The British: Although no longer as dominant as they once were, the British and their progeny in North America remain the most important ethnic grouping in the world economy, controlling by far the world's largest corporations.

"The Japanese: The first Asian group to form a truly global ethnic economic network, the Japanese are second in size and scope only to the Anglo-Americans. Their 'diaspora by design' now constitutes a one-world city stretching from Bangkok to London and linked by banks, trading companies and media as well as hundreds of special schools that educate thousands of youngsters in the essentials of 'the Japanese spirit.'

"The Chinese: The fifty-five million overseas Chinese are the fastest-growing economic force in the world, controlling an empire that included the booming regions of coastal China, the high tech centers of California's Silicon Valley and the most vibrant sections of Manhattan. The three major financial centers of the Chinese—Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong—possess combined foreign reserves twice as large as those of Japan, Germany or the United States.

"The Indians: The more than twenty million overseas Indians today represent one of the best educated, affluent groupings in the world, with strong presences in Britain, North America and East Asia. The Indians may prove to be the next diaspora to emerge as a great economic force."

An original vision of the past and the future of world business, Tribes is guaranteed to provide discussion and controversy.

Kotkin names other ethnic "tribes" who are poised to cross the threshold to gain a niche in the global marketplace. He also acknowledges the struggles of African-Americans, but does not foresee that we are on the verge of becoming one of the successful "tribes," that is, a successful global people.

The naming of the "tribes" is far less interesting for our purpose than Kotkin's theory of why they are so successful. Compare what he says about the successful "tribes" with what he says about those who are successful, or those individuals who belong to no ethnic group.

"In defining global tribalism, I have set up to examine five principal groups—the Jews, British, Japanese, Chinese and Indians—all of who powerfully illustrate this phenomenon. Although each of these five tribes possesses a vastly different history, they all share the following three critical characteristics:

1. A strong ethnic identity and sense of mutual dependence that helps the group adjust to changes in the global economic and political order without losing its essential unity.

2. A global network based on mutual trust that allows the tribe to function collectively beyond the confines of national or regional borders.

3. A passion for technical and other knowledge from all possible sources, combined with an essential open-mindedness that fosters rapid cultural and scientific development critical for success in the late-twentieth-century world economy." (pp. 4-5)

Finally, Kotkin summarizes the essence of his thesis in another way. He merges two powerful notions.

"The power of global tribes derives from their successful coalescing of two principles, that, in classic liberal thought, have been separated: an intrinsic "tribal" sense of a unique historical and ethnic identity and the ability to adapt to a cosmopolitan global economy." (p. 16)

"Whitening the African"

When we were brought to these shores enslaved, we knew who we were. We were Africans. We often put the name African in the names of our independent organizations as late as the latter part of the 1800's and early 1900's. For example, we formed the Free African Society in 1787, following by the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1794 and shortly by the African Methodist Episcopal Zion and The Abyssinian Church (another name associated with Ethiopia, or Africa). The first Baptist church founded by Africans, were called the African Baptist or "Bluestone" Church in 1758.10 It was followed by other African Baptist churches in1800 and 1805 and an Abyssinian Baptist church in 1808. There were African Free Schools in New York. The Africans who formed a Masonic lodge, the Prince Hall Lodge, first called it the African Lodge.

Clearly, there was a solid ethnic family identity based upon shared continental cultural heritage. It will be of great importance to research the question of how Africans began to refer to themselves as "negroes," "colored," "blacks," "minorities," "disadvantaged," and "at-risk."

Clearly, there was a solid ethnic family identity based upon a shared continental cultural heritage. It will be of great importance to research the question of how Africans began to refer to themselves as "negroes," "colored," "blacks," "minorities," "disadvantaged," and "at-risk."11 Were these names derived from Africans? Were the changes the result of the efforts of outsiders to deny and to suppress the cultural heritage and the unity of Africans? What is crystal clear is that using such names to refer to a group of people effectively removes them from time and space. It takes them out of the human historical process. They become a people without a tradition, without a homeland, without an interest. They became spectators and "cultural welfare" recipients. Moreover, what we received as "cultural welfare," "mainstream culture," has been described by one social scientist as the "culture of narcissism."12

Actually, we have a great deal of documentation on this question. We see from history that these changes were due to ruling class while supremacists who knew exactly what they were doing. They were following a policy that they invented and called "whitening." To understand this policy, its depth and pervasiveness, and its strategic and calculated intent, we must look at the record.

The white elite in the United States and in Brazil faced the same problem at the end of the 19th century. Both had a large African population as slavery ended. They worried about what to do with these Africans. The two elites created two different approaches to their "problem." The United States chose to get rid of the "negro problems" by segregation, overt segregation. Brazil (and other "Latin" American countries) chose absorption or assimilation of the African into the European population, with certain limits. Neither could conceive of the notion of cultural or ethnic democracy. Neither recognized or respected African people of African culture as legitimate.

In 1914, Theodore Roosevelt wrote an article in a popular magazine describing what he had seen and heard in Brazil. He was told the following by one observer, "Of course the presence of the Negro is the real problem, and a very serious problem, both in your country, the United States, and in mine, Brazil. Slavery was an intolerable method of solving the problem, and had to be abolished. But the problem itself remained, in the presence of the Negro...

"Now come the necessity to devise some method of dealing with it. You of the United States are keeping the blacks as an entirely separate element, and you are not treating them in a way that fosters their self-respect. They will remain a menacing element in your civilization, permanent, and perhaps even after a while a growing element. With us the question tends to disappear and become absorbed."13

By absorption, Roosevelt referred to the white Brazilian elite's whitening policy of both cultural and genetic absorption, or put another way, cultural and physical genocide. His observation on the physical absorption is interesting.

"In Brazil ... the idea looked forward to is the disappearance of the Negro question through the disappearance of the Negro himself—that is through his gradual absorption into the white race.

"This does not mean the Brazilians are or will become the "mongrel" people that they have been asserted to be by certain writers, not only French and English, but American. The Brazilians are a white people, belonging to the Mediterranean race, and differing from the northern stocks only as such great and civilized old races as the Spaniards and Italians, with their splendid historic past, differ from those northern stocks. The evident Indian admixture has added a good, and not a bad, element. The very large European immigration of itself ends, decade by decade, to make the Negro build a smaller element of the blood of the whole community. The Brazilian of the future will be in blood more European than in the past, and he will differ in culture only as the Americans of the North differ."14

These were unilaterally decreed solutions. No African was consulted. As Skidmore shows in Black Into White, the strategy is rooted in an ideology of white supremacy. In the case of Brazil and many other Latin American countries, the white supremacy is masked by a propaganda of a "raceless" society.15 The "color blind" societies produced "invisible white supremacy." In some, the final solution was complete.

"Negroes in Buenos Aires no Hay'—there are no blacks in Buenos Aries so the natives of the city, the Portenos, tell their visitors, and so it appears. ... The process of vanishing was rather abrupt one, not really starting to take effect until the 1950's."16

Andrews in The Afro-Argentines of Buenos Aires, goes on to show that in the one hundred year period, the African population of Buenos Aires declined from nearly 30% to virtually zero. The story of this decline is instructive, given the current elite thinking about what to do with the Africa.

So we can see, that the liberals (Latin American assimilationist/integrationists) and the conservatives (segregation/apartheid thinkers) were both in agreement. The African had to go. Both liberal and conservative elitists were white supremacists and were cultural totalitarians. African culture, and African people as an ethnic group were not recognized or respected then. The same is true today.

The new census categories of "mixed" and "other" have already started some Africans to reframe their identities, identities based solely on their pigment, or "races."

These matters are important to any discussion about the education of the African, especially since there has been a relatively recent shift in the U. S. positions, a "melting pot" shift. Still, certain powerful segments of the white elite are still determined that the African has to go. The new census categories of "mixed" and "other" have already started some Africans to reframe their identities, identities based solely on their pigment, or "race." Aside from the fact that this is buying into the fabricated European category of "race," there is another issue. It is absurd to conceive of "mixed" "races" when there are no pure ones to start. For example, Africans and others have been mixing with Europeans in Europe for hundreds of years, starting before the Greeks and continuing through the Moorish conquest of parts of Europe. Therefore it does not make sense to build a new identity on the European racial construction, or on a reaction to it.17 Where is the pure unmixed "white" person, even in Europe?

These issues are contemporary matters, and not merely matter of a distant past. For example, we may consider the goals of some elite white private schools. "In this study we examine an extraordinary program: young blacks from economically impoverished backgrounds entered the elite world of the upper-class prep schools, a world permeated by overt and covert, blatant and subtle forms of discrimination. Yet in spite of their families' poverty, in spite of the discrimination they face, they competed successfully with the scions of the most privileged families in America. These black youngsters not only endured a very difficult experience, they flourished. In this book, then, we are dealing not with the assimilation of a few wealthy black families but with the creation of new elite individuals through a special education program. And as a result of their education, these individuals may move from the lower class black ghetto to the upper-class elite in just a few years, possibly leaving behind friends and families, perhaps even the black sub-culture as a whole. Thus this unusual program provides a rare opportunity to investigate how quickly and thoroughly an upper-class style and identity can be acquired."18

The analysis here is limited to race and class. No cultural or ethnic recognition or respect of African people is shown. No recognition or respect of African leadership and its opinions on these matters is shown.

Whitening as Virtual Reality: the Latin American Example

In Latin America and the Cape Verdean Islands, the battle against assimilation has been a constant struggle for people of African ancestry. Although on the surface these nations appear to have no racial conflicts, and although most propagandized to the effect that racial oppression is absent, such is not the case when one examines closely the languages, with dozens of terms used to describe African physical characteristics, and the treatment of people who move closer to the black end of the color spectrum, the findings reveal conflicting problems that work against those who would attempt to hold on to their African heritage and who are obviously of African descent phenotypically. In the following discussion, examples of anti-African sentiments and attempts to eliminate all vestiges that identify these nations with Africa will be given.

To some Africans, the fusion of "European blood" with Africans was viewed as a form of cultural rape. Others welcomed the push to amalgamate, and especially "whiten," the race. The dictum, "advanzar la raza" (advancing the race), was coined to mean to decrease what is viewed as the "inferior black blood" by mixing it with the more desired "European or white blood" through intermarriage. Since black blood was and is looked upon as a mark of degradation, it is the responsibility of its bearers to improve the race by mating with someone of a fairer complexion.19

In her commentary on the experiences of Puerto Rican women of African ancestry, Angela Jorge posits, "When she begins to seek companionship with others who look like her (that is, black Americans), with those who will not reject her, she will hear !Conesa no juengues? (Literally, "Don't play with that one!") but it conveys a meaning of not getting involved... She quickly understands that any intimacy with a black American male is absolutely taboo, and that to engage in such a relationship is to be forced to assimilate socially into that group, essentially giving up her identity as a Puerto Rican."20

The pressure to assimilate through intermarriage is not unique to Latin America. In the Cape Verdean Islands, when one gives birth to a white man's child, it is often said that she is "fixing up the race."21 However, the opposite is often said of a light skinned woman who has a child with a darker man. The term used in Cape Verde to describe this union is "mixing up the race."

In her study of race relations in Cape Verde, Meintel demonstrates how light skinned Cape Verde girls avoid intimacy with darker skinned boys. According to Meintel, "when the boys from the clubs deemed 'just anybody' arrived, they are met with pleas of fatigue and headaches (as to excuses not to dance), and they are made to make an early exit. Once the 'better' clubs arrived, they were persuaded to stay well past the usual time limit, blocking the entrance of less desirable groups."22

Similar demands were placed upon Antillean girls to marry white were revealed by Franz Fanon in Black Skin White Mask. While away at college, Antillean women were encouraged to seek to marry white or someone very light in order to gain family approval. When asked as to whether they would consider marrying a person of African ancestry, these women strongly state their refusal to consider a black man as a possible suitor by stating, "get out of that and then deliberately go back to it? Thank you, no besides," they added, "it is not that we deny that blacks have any good qualities, but you know it is so much better to be white."23 Extreme examples of the pathological effects on the minds of a racially insecure people, are demonstrated is a play entitled, Mascara Puertoriqueno, by Francisco Arrivi.

The experiences are familiar to many African-Americans from both the past and the present. Film maker Spike Lee opens up the topic for a wider audience in his film, School Daze.

The discussion of the whitening process is a natural lead into the discussion of the nature of African education. Ultimately, the issue that must be faced is the right of an ethnic group to exist. Any environment within which one may find one's self; this must be based on one's true heritage and not on that of others. Any design of education must start at this point.

Any group, in the struggles for this existence, must draw upon its past and upon its way of life as a cultural stream in its history on the earth. Beginning thousands of years ago, Africans created culture. The evolution of Africa's cultural creativity can be documented and studied. It not only exists, it reflects a way of life that is positive, beyond the mere material. African metaphysics is spiritually centered, all over the continent.

In order for African education and civilization to proceed, systematic study of the history and culture of African people worldwide is a fundamental requirement. Within the history and culture, we will find purposes of education.24 Philosophy and theory are both explicit and implicit in the history and culture of African people. Many of these ideas have been well recorded from ancient times to the present.

In addition, strategies and structures (methods and curricula) for achieving a group's purpose though the education process are well attested in the African experience. Records of teaching and learning, the literature of African curriculum, physical structures of schools, biographies of heroic teachers are available for education in the present. Of course, contemporary and changing conditions require modifications of any models, but it is unnecessary and undesirable to begin the process of the design of African education as if there were no past. The oldest textbook in human history is the Teachings of Ptahhotep, a sage of the fifth Kemetic dynasty in Ancient Kemet (Egypt) circa 2,350 B. C. This book contains wisdom teaching of a great sage. The sage himself claimed these teachings to be ideas inherited from the ancestors who received them from the gods. The oldest physical structure for a university on earth to day still stands at Waset (Luxor) in Kemet (Egypt). Its ancient name was Ipet Isut; its contemporary name is the Karnak and Luxor temple complex.

Abundant literature survives to raise the curtain on this ancient higher educational tradition, the understanding of which implies what existed in primary and secondary levels of schooling. There are also surviving today many other African "secret" societies, or simply, African formal, traditional schools. The less modern and more traditional these schools are, the greater the independent genius of Africans in the designs of educational systems becomes apparent. Aim, method, and content of traditional African educational systems, can be studied and in some cases can even be observed at the present time.25 Do not people of African descent deserve an education and socialization process that bears some meaningful relationship to our cultural antecedents?

Of course, any wise person takes into account the contemporary environment. That wise person will view contemporary related and competing system with a critical eye and will modify as appropriate.

We have much to learn from what West Africans call the "bush schools" (African traditional schools), but in looking at these experiences we must always remember that the schools do not stand alone. All education and socialization processes are situated within the broader societal context of economic, political, spiritual and artistic environments. African people cannot detach the education process from their own definition of their mission, which is to be fed by the study of cultural tradition and the geo-political realities of the world today. When this is done, specific articulation of curricula in the areas of the humanities, the sciences, health and physical education, politics, economics and above all spirituality, will be formulated.

The pragmatics of African education are easy to design, once the major issues are perceived and settled. Clearly, the education of the children is contingent upon the education of the adults in the African family. Given the centuries of miseducation, a massive mobilization for the reeducation of the African is an urgent necessity. However, this process can begin and its goals can be achieved, especially if we consider the many informal avenues for sharing information, especially the use of data processing and mass media technology.

The adults in any African community are part of the environment for children, providing support for community aim and for child development. Children cannot be educated in the African way in isolation from parents and community activities in education. Specific curriculum and organizational practices in education will be perennial problems, some of which have already been approached. These, as important as they are, are far less important than conceptual, theoretical, and philosophical clarity on what the problems for Africans are and what the resulting goals are.

The Portland, Oregon African-American Baseline Essays (Portland, Oregon Public Schools) provide a content schema for a limited number of academic areas that can be filled in. These essays constitute one attempt to demonstrate an approach to satisfying the need for a multi-disciplinary, longitudinal, world-geopolitical view of the African people: in short the story of African people in all facets of its culture from ancient times to the present everywhere.

The rapid growth and proliferation of "rites of passage" practices and theorizing is well underway and has already provided many models for thoughtful consideration.

Study groups of adults by the dozen are already demonstrating how a broad community of Africans can become informed, even though they may or may not be enrolled in formal educational institutions at this time. In fact, because the study groups are self-supporting , our agenda can be self determined.

The artist, musicians, and entertainers contain among their ranks some few conscious individual who understand the power of their medium and the need to serve their people. Some have begun to move beyond the selfish needs for material acquisition to a global understanding of our condition as a people, and to their major role as agents to help transform our people from dependence to independence.

There is no need to debate whether there should or should not be African centered education. For any African, the question can only be about the character of the education process. If any African would argue against an independent concept and vehicle for African education, that person will have made a defacto decision that African people ought not to exist, and this is where the line must be drawn.


We must recognize, respect and honor the principle for cultural pluralism, granting to all groups the right to exist and to be respected. We must also be educated beyond our parochial interest in order to understand others in the world. A "multiculturalism" that leads to cultural democracy is quite different from the multiculturalism that leads to ethnic cleansing, cultural genocide, or coerced assimilation to some as yet undefined or alien universal norm.

Confused Africans who see themselves as allied with no ethnic group are in an interesting but unenviable position. However, with cultural democracy, the choice is theirs.

The education of African people is an urgent necessity. It is a matter of life or death. We cannot abide another generation of children whose socialization has been neglected by us, who have been miseducated by others, who have been abandoned to invent their own systems, without the wise direction of ancient tradition and community elders.

Some European pretend not to understand the values of ethnic cultures, especially the African move to educate themselves. Geopolitical struggles lead to such "amnesia." However, Africans cannot afford the luxury of listening to the siren songs of those who do not recognize or respect us, while strengthening their own position, such as in Alan Bloom's book Closing of the American Mind and E. D. Hirsch's book, Cultural Literacy. We have had such prescriptions for nearly four centuries at least. Trusting in our own cultural heritage, ancient and modern, we are in the best position to solve our own problem. We would have it no other way. The economic, political, ethnic, and spiritual development cannot be created in a vacuum. African self-determination is the only possibility for our development and enhancement.

(This paper appeared in Black Child Journal)


Asa G. Hilliard Ed. D is Fuller E. Calloway Professor of Education, Georgia State University and a noted psychologist and historian. Luisa Martin is from Limon, Costa Rica and in her final candidacy for Ph. D in Political Science at Clark Atlanta University.


NOTE: You can click on "Back" to return to the footnote source or use the hot-link at the end of the footnote.

  1. Stuckey, Sterling (1976) "I want to be African": Paul Robeson and the Ends of Nationalist Theory and Practice. 1919–1945. Los Angeles: Center for Afro-American Studies, University of California. Return
  2. Hayford, J. E. Casely (1969) Ethiopian Unbound: Studies in Race Emancipation London: Frank Cass and CO. LTD, pp. 163, 174 and 176 (first published 1911). Return
  3. Obenga, Théophile (1992) Ancient Egypt and Black Africa: A Student's Handbook for the Study of Ancient Egypt in Philosophy, Linguistics, and Gender Relations. London: Karnak House; Hilliard, Asa G. (1989) "Waset, the Eye of Ra and the Abode of Ma'at: The Pinnacle of Black Leadership in the Ancient World." in Van Sertima, Ivan (Ed), Egypt Revisited. New Brunswick: Transaction Press. Return
  4. Hilliard, Asa G. III (1995) The Maroon Within Us: Selected Essays in African-American Community Socialization. Baltimore: Black Classic Press. Return
  5. Woodson, Carter G. (1919) The Education of the Negro Prior to the Colored People of the United States from the Beginning of Slavery to the Civil War. Brooklyn, New Your: A & B Publishers (reprint); Woodson, Carter G. The Miseducation of the Negro. Washington, D. C.: The Associated Publishers, Inc. Reprinted in 1977 by AMS Press, Washington, D. C. , King, Kenneth (1971) Pan Africanism and Education: A Study of Race Philanthropy and Education in the Southern States of America and East Africa. Oxford: Clarendon Press; Ani, Marimba (1994) Yurugu: An African Centered Critique of European Cultural Thought and Behavior. Trenton: Africa World Press, Inc. Return
  6. Carruthers, Jacob (1994) "African Centered Education" Kemitic Voice, 2, 7, 1 (A publication of the Kemetic Institute, Chicago, Illinois.) "The lowest point of modern Western philosophy was the inclusion of arguments for white supremacy and 'Negro' inferiority in philosophical writing during the 18th and 19th centuries. The prestige of some of the thinkers compounds the evil David Hume ("On National Character"), Charles Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws), and Georg Hegel (The Philosophy of History) were the forerunners for writers like Thomas Carlyle (The Nigger Question) and Joseph Gobineau (The Inequality of the Human Races) who were in turn the forerunners of Adolph Hitler. p.1. Return
  7. Murray, Charles and Herrenstein, Richard J. (1994) The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life. New York: Free Press. Return
  8. Stuckey, Sterling, (1987) Slave Culture: Nationalist Theory and the Foundations of Black America. New York: Oxford University Press, P. 1. Return
  9. Kotkin, Joel. (1993). Tribes: How Race, Religion, and Identity Determine Success in the New Global Economy. New York: Random House. Return
  10. Lincoln, C. Eric and Mamiya, Lawrence H. (1990). The Black Church in the African-American Experience. Durham: Duke University Press. Return
  11. Moore, Richard B. (1992). The Name "Negro" its Origin and Evil Use. Baltimore: Black Classic Press (First published 1960, new edition edited with new introduction of W. Burghart Turner and Joyce Moore Turner). Return
  12. Lasch, Christopher (1978). The Culture of narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations. New York: W. W. Norton. Return
  13. Skidmore, Thomas E. (1993). Black Into White: Race Nationality in Brazilian Thought. Durham: Duke University Press, pp. 75–6. Return
  14. Skidmore, Thomas E. (1993). Black Into White: Race Nationality in Brazilian Thought. Durham: Duke University Press, pp. 68–9. Return
  15. Andrews, George. Reid (1980). The Afro-Argentines of Buenos Aires, 1800–1900. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Madison Press. Moore, Carlos (1988) Castro, the Blacks and Africa. Los Angeles: The University of California Center for Afro-American Studies. Rout, Leslie B., Jr. (1976) The African Experience in Spanish America: 1502 to the present day. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Nunes, Maria Luisa (1987). Becoming True to ourselves: Cultural Decolonialization and National Identity in the Lecture of Portuguese-Speaking World. New York: Greenwood Press. Eduardo, Octavio Da Costa (1981). The Negro in Northern Brazil: A Study in Acculturalization. London: The African Publication Society. Fontaine, Pierre-Michel (Ed.) (1985). Race, Class and Power in Brazil. Los Angeles: University of California Center for Afro-American Studies. Freyre, Gilberto (1946) The Masters and the Slaves: A study in the Development of Brazilian Civilization. New York: Alfred A Knoph. Jorge, Angela (1976) "The Black and Puerto Rican Woman in Contemporary American Society," in Acosta-Belen, Edna (Ed). The Puerto Woman: Perspectives on Culture, History and Society. New York: Preager. Return
  16. Andrews, George Reid (1980). The Afro-Argentines of Buenos Aries, 1800–1900. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Madison Press. Return
  17. Mac Ritchie, David (1884). Ancient and Modern Britons: Volumes I and II. London: Kegan, Paul Trench and Co. (Freeman, S. Dak: Pine H11 Press Inc. Reprint). Rogers, Joel (1942, 43, 44). Sex and Race, Volume I: Negro and Caucasian Mixing in All Ages and All Lands. Sex and Race, Volume II: A History of White , Negro , and India miscegenation in Two Americas. Sex and Race, Volume III: When White and Black Mix in Spite of Opposition. New York: Helga M. Rogers (1270 5th Avenue, New York, New York, 10029). Van Sertima, Ivan (1992) Golden Age of the Moor. New Brunswick: Transaction. Return
  18. Zwigenhaft, Richard L. and Domhoff, William G. (1991) Blacks in the White Establishment?: A Study of Race and Class in America. New Haven: Yale University Press, p.10. Return
  19. Jackson, Richard L. (1976). The Black Image in Latin American Literature. Albuquerque: University of new Mexico Press. Return
  20. Jorge, Angela (1976) "The Black Puerto Rican Woman in Contemporary American Society." in The Puerto Rican Woman: Perspectives on Cultures, history and Society. New York: Preager Press, p. 185. Return
  21. Meintel, Deirdre (1984). Race Class Portuguese Colonialism in Cape Verde. New York: Syracuse University, p. 102. Return
  22. Meintel, Deirdre (1984). Race Class Portuguese Colonialism in Cape Verde. New York: Syracuse University, p. 111. Return
  23. Fanon, Frantz ( 1967). Black Skin White Mask. New York: Grove Press, p. 48. Return
  24. Hilliard, Asa G. III (1995). The Maroon Within Us: Essays in African Community Socialization. Baltimore: Black Classic Press. Return
  25. Warfield-Coppock, Nsenga and Coppock, Bertram Atiba (1992). Afrocentric Theory and Applications, Volume II: Advances in Adolescent Rites of Passage. Washington, D. C.: Baobab Associates, Inc. Return

Additional References

  • Carruthers, Jacob H. (1995). MDW NTR, Divine Speech: A Historical Reflection of African Deep Though From The Time of Pharaohs to the Present. Karnak House
  • Clarke, John H. (1995) Notes for an African World Revolution: Africans at the Crossroads. Trenton, New Jersey: Africa World Press


The State of African Education

by Asa G. Hilliard III
Fuller E. Callaway Professor of Education
Georgia State University, Atlanta Georgia

American Educational Research Association Plenary Presentation
Commission on Research in Black Education
April, 2000
New Orleans, LA

It took Lerone Bennett several decades to write his newest book, Forced Into Glory: Abraham Lincoln’s White Dream, meticulously documenting Abraham Lincoln’s white supremacy beliefs. Bennett shows that Lincoln’s “Emancipation Proclamation” was a conscious and necessary deception that did not free a single enslaved African. Bennett then shows the carelessness of historians, and even the cover-up of the record by some, in order to let the myth survive. How ironic that many tears have been shed by those who choose the Lincoln Memorial as a symbolic site to celebrate African liberation, while oblivious to those who truly sought to free Africans, not the least of whom were Africans themselves. Instead we honor an opponent of equality who openly espoused white supremacy views until his death. Then we accept a myth that is the opposite of the truth.

In many ways, the persistence of the myth of Abraham Lincoln as a liberator of Africans is a symbol of the contemporary response to the state of education of African Americans and of African people worldwide. So much of what we believe about our state is false. How do we account for this myth of the “Emancipator” and of “emancipation.” It is in the curriculum and in the culture at large, a belief in the face of all evidence to the contrary. And so, until this very time, we have a whole nation in deep denial.

For the record, it was really the 13th Amendment to the Constitution that outlawed slavery or involuntary servitude, except, except as punishment for a crime. In view of the current escalation of criminalization of African men in particular, and of privatization of prisons and the use of prison labor in private businesses, we can see that there are apparent limits to event the protection of the 13th Amendment. We actually have virtual slavery for some existing today. Moreover, it took the 14th Amendment to guarantee equal protection of the laws to all citizens. So how can so many of us join in the perpetuation of such a curriculum myth about Lincoln freeing Africans from slavery and also believing in the political equality of “the races,” and still be certain that we can be real when we approach the design of education/socialization for our children? Are we habituated to myths? Can we see the true condition of our people, the masses of them? Can we see, as Carter G. Woodson saw, the miseducated though highly schooled among us, whose orientation is “alien self” or even “anti-self” as Dr. Na'im Akbar has said? What is the state of African education?

There are also some potent common myths about African learners, myths about low ability, cultural deprivation, myths about poverty causing learning problems, and myths that school treatments are equitable for all children. These myths persist and are even adopted by many members of the African community, even though we are a community with a long history of creating powerful transforming educational and socialization institutions, both in Africa and in the diaspora. We above all ought to be able to detect myths right away. To grasp the real state of education of African people everywhere, including in America, we must examine the intersection of culture and power. A global system of power distribution has dictated and continues to dictate the nature of the education and socialization processes. Slavery, colonization, apartheid/segregation and the rationalizing ideology of white supremacy are centuries old challenges, really aspects of a global hegemonic system. That system interrupted and largely destroyed the flow of thousand of years of powerful and independent African education/socialization excellence, about which most of us are totally uninformed.

Above all, we must understand that the structure of society and the embedded structure of education/socialization systems in hegemonic societies are designed to maintain hegemony. It is the structure, including especially its ideological foundation that controls possibilities for African education/socialization, even today. Hegemonic structures and ideologies cannot acknowledge or respect our traditions in education/socialization, profound though they are. Moreover they shape the beliefs and the behaviors that guide miseducation, while blaming victims. No matter how much progress we appear to have made, more degrees and higher paying jobs for a few of us, there has been no shift in the power structure at all, anywhere in the African world. Even “liberated” and “independent” African nations, lack control over real economic and military power. Few even have more than minimal control over their education institutions. These institutions still mimic those of former colonial masters in most cases. Some still have governance of education in the hands of former colonial masters. While African people globally are entitled to justice, including of course reparations, if any people were ever entitled to them, and while we may have friends and allies, there will be no saviors for us by others from these structural conditions. Nothing in history suggests that non-African benefactors will rescue us. Purely and simply we must emancipate ourselves from hegemonic structures; including especially the foundation beliefs that support those structures. We must challenge these things at every turn. We must pose and construct alternatives to them. We will definitely get those things that we construct! We also will definitely get those things that others construct for us in the absence of our own efforts to construct our future. So, the state of “black education” cannot be separated from the state of African people generally. It is a fundamental error of major proportions to limit our analysis of this matter to Africans in America. Africans all over the world were controlled by the same hegemonic structures, and still are. Globally, our position remains on the bottom of virtually all meaningful indices, even as other ethnic families, including new ones to the United States, one after the other, lift themselves up, without saviors. Even former colonial nations, not African, have entered the competition as producers in the international mainstream.

Recently, I was forced to consolidate some of my thinking on the nature of the problem of African people, within which the problems of education/socialization are situated. I was invited to present a paper at the Interdenominational Theological Seminary in Atlanta on the topic, “The Spiritual State of Black American.” I identified “12 Challenges for African People” in my response to this theme. The big picture for Africans is the same everywhere in the world, because hegemonic structures are global.

Even now, enormous power is being consolidated everywhere, with no priority on African development, e.g., The European Community (EC), North Atlantic Free Trade Association (NAFTA) and General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) (GATT). Equally important is globalization in the business arena.

1. We are unconscious, with no global view of African people and no global view of successful ethnic groups. We experience ourselves as local people in a global world. Some of us experience ourselves only as individuals without any connection even to a local African community.

2. We have acute amnesia, with no valid memories or awareness of ourselves as a historical people evolving through time and spreading throughout the world. We are episodic in our experience of ourselves.

3. We are disintegrating as a people and disorganized. We have lost our solidarity. Many of us feel no bond of identity with our people.

4. We are not raising our own children. We have no systematic socialization structures for the masses of our children. They are raising themselves or they are being raised by others. We have forfeited one of the most vital functions of a people, the responsibility for intergenerational cultural transmission.

5. We have a growing loss of independent faith communities, becoming more subordinate in institutions that we do not control.

6. We have no long-range strategic goals, plans and mobilization. Without these things nothing positive will happen for us.

7. We do not have an adequate comprehension of wealth production and accumulation. Many of us make money. Few of us make wealth. Our consumption appetites make us prime sources for exploitation by others.

8. We do not have an adequate comprehension of how to nurture health and prevent illness. We do not have healthy diets. We do not monitor and control our environment. We do not have a critical orientation about these things.

9. We have no major independent, self-funded think tanks to help us to define and to resolve our problems. We do not see how successful group fund and rely upon ideas based upon research and reflection (Edwards, 1998).

10. We do not have an adequate African Centered Higher Education. Definitions, assumptions, priorities and above all our worldviews must reflect us.

11. We do not have sufficient cultural centers, movements, monuments, and celebrations to highlight important experiences and to shape directions. These things offer us the opportunity to be reflective and to develop a more firm vision of the future.

12. We have no regular independent communication capabilities, such as serious national and international periodicals to address our serious and continuing problems. This is shameful. It is not really a matter of resources. It is a matter of consciousness. Appropriate socialization will produce an appetite among the masses of our people for appropriate information.

I cannot amplify these points in the time available here. However, it should be clear that if we begin with these challenges while reflecting on our geo-political status as a people, they call for very special approaches to education/socialization, approaches that can only come from us. It should also be evident that something far beyond the common school experience is required for our children, even though most of our children will continue to attend common schools. Moreover, we must insure that this common school experience taps the genius of our children and stops disabling them through structured miseducation. Many of us rely totally on the common school experience. That will not meet our complete needs. The socialization of the masses of our children can only be done through structures that we develop and control.

Most of the 12 Challenges mentioned above are tied directly to our task of education/socialization, affecting directly the aim, methods and content of education/socialization. However, out of all of these high priority challenges, the first, becoming conscious, and the fourth, the matter of control over the education/socialization of our children are critical. Hegemonic structures were created to mis-educate enslaved and colonized people, and people who were victims of white supremacy influenced structures of domination. Indigenous and independent systems were destroyed. Colonial and slave structures as well as apartheid and general white supremacy structures, were created, including boarding schools, to separate children from parents and communities and cultures, and especially mission schools to destroy the worldviews and to stigmatize colonized and enslaved people as savages, primitives, and pagans. The recent “culture wars” over the school curriculum is a continuation in a newer form of ideological structures of hegemony that follow the old path of separating children and communities from their traditions. (Schlesinger, 1998) (Bloom, 1987) (Ravitch, 1996) (Hirsch, 1987).

So we see the denial of African culture, the denial of the significance of African culture, the assertion of the supremacy of western culture and the containment of teaching about African culture, even the distortion and destruction of African history and cultures. Perhaps the worst of all is the recent accelerating drift in the control of the education/socialization structures, making our communities even more remote from the power centers in education which follow their own agenda. The grip of others who control our young people is becoming tighter. Among the obvious controls are as follows:

1. There are trends toward removing control of schools from local elected school boards, to mayors, governors, state departments of education and even judges. Urban schools no longer tend to have Superintendents who are close to the communities served. Corporate CEO’s, generals from the military, business managers, and even prosecuting attorneys, without roots in the culture or the community, are placed in charge of the large urban schools where most of our children are. Whatever the weaknesses of local control at the board level, there was at least a modicum of potential for community influence. As our children are being managed and even exploited for profit, our communities are more alien than ever from the process.

2. Privatization is growing in the public sector through standardized curriculum using cyber technology. There is a corresponding loss of community control over what is generally minimum competency, non-culturally responsive curriculum and methodology. Private for profit corporations have discovered the lucrative urban market. They are bringing industry practices to the creation of “education maintenance organizations” (EMO’s). We have no control over them with their minimum competency efforts. In fact some of us are selling these things to our own community.

3. More and more we see publicly funded, large scale off the shelf, cookie-cutter standardized programs for public schools, mainly urban, mainly minimum competence, mainly non-culturally responsive. They see the Title I dollars and other funds in urban education. Policy makers increasingly have abandoned the belief in regular teachers and schools. They now shop for large-scale “research based” programs. We have virtually no control over these services. Some of our best educators look to these programs as saviors for our children, even though the programs do not have excellence track records. They are minimum competency at best. We are truly at risk.

4. The control over more than one million men in the prisons and jails is appalling. Prisons are also places for “teaching and learning,” mostly the wrong lessons. We do not control them. Many of them have virtually abandoned the self-improvement courses and have become torture chambers, or sources of below minimum wage cheap labor. Of what value to our communities will young men be when they return?

When we combine the formal system trends with the control of informal socialization through movies, videos, audios, advertising and television, where is the space and time for our community to carry out its responsibility for intergenerational cultural transmission? Our whole community is in virtual lockdown. I do not expect anyone outside of our community to see these matters as critical problems. Certainly we have heard nothing about this threat so far. It is not on the radar screen, not even for many Africans. However, so many within the African community itself, perhaps because of their own alien socialization and mis-education, are not alert to this problem. Therefore they do not see it as a priority for action. Therefore, we are not mobilized to deal with these matters. Moreover, many of us have become experts at implementing the most damaging parts of systems of structural inequity. For example:

1. We assist in the non-beneficial use of mental measurement and assessments that falsely label our children as impaired.

2. We manage tracking systems that result in the disproportionate placement of our children in low tracks.

3. We teach non-culturally responsive curricula that leave our children ignorant of themselves.

4. We sell privatized services and schools to public schools, mainly in urban areas that enrich entrepreneurs with no real benefits to our children.

It is clear to me that a major effort is required to make any substantial meaningful and positive change in the education/socialization of African children. However, no such change is even remotely possible until we can effect a fundamental change in the dialogue about education/socialization. This is first and foremost an internal dialogue within the African community. After that we can address both the common school experience with others and the African community’s responsibility for the broader socialization approaches.

Currently the heaviest emphasis in the education research community in general is on children, how “intelligent” they are, which “intelligences” they have, how “motivated” they are, and on “special methods,” etc. I think that the emphases are misplaced. By now it should be clear that, for the most part, our children are geniuses with capacities to go far beyond any current school requirements. They respond very well to quite a variety of well-executed methods and techniques. There is no mystery about how to teach any of them. The priority that needs more emphasis is the deep study of the quality of services that we offer to students, the unequal distribution of those services and the structures of inequity such as tracking and inappropriate special education, still existing in the school.

Why do our children fail to get access to the many educators who are not puzzled about how to teach them?

Our children’s manifest problems in public education virtually all have to do with opportunity to learn. The evidence for this conclusion is overwhelming, if we only raise and try to answer the right questions. There is a growing body of powerful conclusions from literature focusing on high poverty, high achieving students. Results by Schmoker (1996), Closing the Gap by Kati Haycock (1998) and Value Added Evaluation by Saunders and Rivers (1998) are but three of the newer citations adding to what Ron Edmonds and his associates showed us long ago. It is clear that ordinary public school teachers, with unselected regular classrooms, serving poor children, without specialized standardized programs, can move students to the highest academic levels in a short period of time. It is not the children or their parents, poverty, culture or bilingual status (correlates that explain little or nothing) that determine academic success. It is good teaching.1

It is also clear that poor and minority ethnic groups tend to get a lower quality of instruction for many reasons, including high teacher turnover, experienced teachers choosing more desirable neighborhoods, high rates of substitute teachers, high rates of teachers teaching out of their fields and a host of other factors that combine to produce what Kozol documented and called Savage Inequalities (1991), also documented by other researchers. These are realities not myths. This suggests to me where the education researchers’ focus should be, primarily on the quality of service and its distribution.

Our preoccupation with the analysis of the victims of savage inequalities in the schools exhausts our resources and our energies and may well impede progress toward valid teaching. Because African children’s academic performance averages are usually low, our attention turns to “multiple intelligences.” “whole language or phonics,” “site based or central management,” off the shelf “cookie cutter programs,” etc. However, these things do not address our basic problems, given the state of African people with respect to opportunity. We do not have to wait for new discoveries on how to teach. As Ron Edmonds has said: “We already know more than we need to know.” At least some do.

In my opinion, the basic problems are elsewhere. I believe that there is a prerequisite to any approach that would attempt to address the problems that are basic. Most of the 12 Challenges that I cited earlier are challenges that have education/socialization components. Almost none of the 12 Challenges influence the aims in schools that serve our children. But worse, even if they did, the ideas about education/socialization that should serve as a foundation for our work have been well articulated over the years, even centuries, yet these ideas that come from deep thinkers of the African community are unknown or marginalized. Therefore, the prerequisite for problem solving is to do the homework that is necessary to understand the works of those who have already done much homework for us. These ideas are fundamental conceptions about problems and solutions.

Some examples of the indispensable works that must be considered as the starting point for change in education/socialization of African people are as follows:

Carter G. Woodson - The Miseducation of the Negro

W. E. B. DuBois - The Education of Black People: Ten Critiques

Marimba Ani - Yurugu: An African Centered Critique of European Thought and Behavior

Mwalimu Shujaa - Too Much Schooling: Too Little Education – A Paradox of Black Life in White Societies

Molefi Asante - The Afrocentric Idea

Jacob Carruthers - Intellectual Warfare

John H. Clarke - Africans at the Crossroads: Notes for an African World Revolution

Amos Wilson - Blueprint for Black Power: A Moral, Political, and Economic Imperative

Kwame and Akia Akoto - The Sankofa Movement: ReAfrikanization and the Reality of War

Chinweizu - The Decolonization of the African Mind

Ayi Kwei Armah - Two Thousand Seasons

Matthew Arnold - Steve Biko: Black Consciousness in South Africa

Ben-Jochannan - Cultural Genocide in the Black and African Studies Curriculum

Of course, there are other important better known references. However, these are writers who call upon our community to develop an independent vision, a vision that is grounded in our cultural and historical reality as well as in our present political and economic condition, a vision that is based upon an understanding of hegemony and education in its direct and indirect forms and the structure that it creates, a vision that is rooted in our excellence tradition of education/socialization, one of the most awesome traditions in the world. (Hilliard, 1998)

Our problems persist because we are not asking the right questions and are being diverted and consumed by the wrong ones. The state of education for African people will remain at its low level, in a rut, unless and until there is a return to an independent consciousness among our leadership in general and our educational leadership in particular. By this I mean that African leadership, guided by a deep grounding in our cultural heritage and guided by a sense of destiny, must frame courses of action and must design the essential education/socialization direction for our people. Having done that, we can then determine what must be done in our communities and what can be done in common schools, as well as how to make common schools culturally responsive.

I am not calling for something strange. In fact, I have outlined the very thing that successful global ethnic groups do now. Such groups take responsibility to define and control the core education/socialization processes for their ethnic families, with cultural transmission held as the prerogative of the family. They may be and most often are enrolled in public schools with other groups. They know that no one outside their families will place the highest priorities on highest quality socialization. Our problem is that our oppressors prefer to see us as individuals, not as an ethnic family. Worse, many of us have fallen victim to this way of seeing ourselves.

One thing should be crystal clear by now. There is no sense of crisis and no high priority being placed on the problem of education/socialization for African people. There is no major mobilization in place or being planned to get us out of the hole that we are in.

Nothing in place or publicly contemplated offers any prospect that our general position in the global society will improve. Yes there are a few who claim that African students have been emancipated, who claim to be able to serve them well. They have tricks galore, standardized, mass marketed, minimum competency, public and private businesses; mainly plying the urban market. Our children and others are their commodities. They stuff the children with advertising. Schools buy “teacher proof” software and “programs” for them. Our children are still a part of the giant shell game, bussing them from one place to another, chasing reluctant whites, moving from outside segregation to inside segregation through tracking and special education. We do not have efficacious processes in place, even for the common school requirements.

The 400-year struggle for African people has been for a legitimate education for the children, a high quality, culturally appropriate, truthful education/socialization for our children. (Hamilton, 1968) It has been a struggle against hegemony and for control over socialization of our own children. We begin the new millennium with the same issues that we have always had, just new faces and new forms. Who can be pleased with what we see as we observe our people all over the world?

We know that at its base, our problem is a simple one. Can we place our children in the care of well-prepared wise educators who love them and who have the will to teach them? We need educators and leaders who are oriented towards our destiny because they are rooted in a deep understanding of our culture and traditions, educators who identify with and are a part of us, educators who see our children as their own. Those who love our children and who have the will to teach them will make whatever sacrifices are necessary to raise our children up where they belong. Now is the time for the real liberators to come forward. Some educational researchers already serve in this role; more can by destroying myths. There is heroic work for educational researchers as a part of this process.

1. Document and disseminate information about the many educators who are not at all puzzled about how to raise achievement of all children to high levels, educators who get excellent achievement now!

2. Evaluate the efficacy of tracking and special education services, especially in the high incidence categories, services that hold so many of our able students in custody, with little if any benefits, and sometimes with harm. (Heller, Holtzman and Messick, 1982) (Skyrtic, 1991).

3. Document and disseminate information about savage inequalities in services.

4. Study the availability of appropriate African ethnic specific materials to enhance our understanding of all curriculum areas.

We must destroy myth and illuminate reality. We cannot call oppressors liberators and cry with gratitude at their tombs.

Contrary to some popular opinion and even some professional opinion, educators and systems are extremely powerful. We can choose either powerful positive or powerful negative effects, and we can bring either into being. The futures of children truly are in our hands.

What will we do?

Selected Bibliography

Akoto, Kwame Agyei and Akoto, Akua Ison (1999). The Sankofa movement: ReAfrikanilization and the reality of war. Hyattsville, MD.: Oyoko Info Com Inc.

Ani, Marimba (1994) Yurugu: an African-centered critique of European cultural thought and behavior. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press.

Armah, Ayei Kwei (1979). Two thousand seasons. Chicago: Third World Press.

Asante, Molefi Kete (1987). The Afrocentric Idea. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Ben-Jochannan, Y. (1972). Cultural genocide in the black and African studies curriculum. New York: Alkebu-Lan.

Bennett, Lerone Jr. (1999). Forced into glory: Abraham Lincoln’s white dream. Chicago: Johnson Publishing Company.

Bloom, A. D. (1987) The closing of the American mind. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Cabral, Amilcar (1973). Return to the source: selected speeches by Amilcar Cabral. New York: Monthly Review Press.

Carruthers, Jacob H. (1999). Intellectual Warfare. Chicago: Third World Press.

Carruthers, Jacob H. (1997). African world history project: the preliminary challenge. Los Angeles: The Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations.

Chinweizu (1987). Decolonizing the African mind. London: Sundoor, BCM Box 4658, London WCIN 3XX, England.

Chinweizu (1987). The west and the rest of us. London: Sundoor, BCM Box 4658, London WCIN 3XX, England.

Clarke, John Henrik (1991). Notes for an African world revolution: Africans at the crossroads. Trenton, New Jersey: Africa World Press Inc.

Cruse, Harold (1967). The crisis of the Negro Intellectual. New York: William Morrow.

Edwards, L. (1998). The power of ideas: The Heritage Foundation at 25 years. Ottawa, IL: Jameson Books.

Hamilton, C. V. (1968). Race and education: A search for legitimacy. Harvard Educational Review, 38(4), 669-684.

Hilliard, A. G., III (1999). “Race,” identity, hegemony, and education: What do we need to know now? Presented to: Chicago Urban League, University of Illinois Chicago (1999). In Rethinking Schools: Winter, 1999/2000 (pp. 4-6).

Hilliard, A. G., III (1998). SBA: The reawakening of the African mind. Gainesville, FL: Makare Publishing Company.

Heller, K., Holtzman, W., & Messick, S., Eds. (1982). Placing children in special education: a strategy for equity. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Hirsch, E. D., Jr. (1987). Cultural literacy: What every American needs to know. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Huntington, S. P. (1996) The clash of civilizations and the making of world order. New York: Houghton Mifflin.

Kotkin, J. (1993) Tribes: How race, religion, and identity determine success in the new global economy. New York: Academic Press.

Kozol, J. (1991). Savage inequalities: children in America’s schools. New York: Crown.

Nacimento, A. D. and Nacimento, E. L. (1992). Africans in Brazil: a Pan-African perspective. P.O. Box 1892 Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press.

Sanders, W. I. & Rivers, J. C. (1998). Cumulative and Residual Effects of Teachers on Future Students Academic Achievement.

Schlesinger, A. M. (1998). The disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society. New York: W. W. Norton.

Ravitch, D. (1996) The last word on Afrocentrism? In Hot Topics: June 1996

(On-line), Available: http://www.edexcellence.net/hottopic/afrocent.htm

Schmoker, M. (1996). Results: the key to continuous school improvement.

Alexandria, Virginia: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Shujaa, Mwalima J. (1995). Too much schooling, too little education: a paradox of black life in white societies. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press.

Skyrtic, T. M. (1991). The special education paradox: Equity as the way to excellence. Harvard Educational Review, 61(2), 148-206.

Wilson, Amos R. (1998). Blueprint for black power: a moral, political and economic imperative for the twenty-first century. New York: Afrikan World Info Systems.

Woodson, Carter G. (1977). The Miseducation of the Negro. New York: AMS Press Inc. (First published 1933)


Young, Gifted, and Black

Theresa Perry, Claude Steele,
and Asa Hilliard

Promoting High Achievement among African-American Students

Three African-American intellectuals on a crucial educational issue of our time

A huge portion of the school reform debate in America-explicitly and implicitly—is framed around the success and failure of African-American children in school. The test-score "achievement gap" between white and black students, especially, is a driving and divisive issue. Yet the voices of prominent African-American intellectuals have been conspicuously left out of the debate about black children.

Young, Gifted, and Black sets out to reframe the terms of that debate. The authors argue that understanding how children experience the struggle of being black in America is essential to improving how schools serve them.

Taking on liberals and conservatives alike, Theresa Perry argues that all kinds of contemporary school settings systematically undermine motivation and achievement for black students. She draws on history, narrative, and research to outline an African-American tradition of education for liberation and to suggest what kinds of settings black children need most. Claude Steele reports stunningly clear empirical psychological evidence that when black students believe they are being judged as members of a stereotyped group rather than as individuals, they do worse on tests. He calls the mechanism at work "stereotype threat," and reflects on its broad implications for schools. Asa Hilliard ends the book with an essay on actual schools around the country where African-American students achieve at high levels.

Theresa Perry is professor of education at Wheelock College in Boston and coeditor of The Real Ebonics Debate (Beacon / 3145-3 / $14.00 pb). Claude Steele is professor of psychology at Stanford University in Palo Alto California. Asa Hilliard is professor of education at Georgia State University in Atlanta.

A Selected Bibliography of
Dr. Asa G. Hilliard III

"I am a teacher, a psychologist and a historian. As such, I am interested in the aims, the methods and the content of the socialization processes that we ought to have in place to create wholeness among our people."

--Dr. Asa G. Hilliard III

Works by Asa G. Hilliard III

Hilliard, Asa G. "The Egyptian Mystery System, Greek Philosophy and Dr. George G.M. James." Uraeus 1, No. 2 (1978): 46-48.

Hilliard, Asa G. Free Your Mind, Return to the Source: The African Origin of Civilization. San Francisco: Urban Institute for Human Services, 1978.

Hilliard, Asa G. "Basic Family Bibliography on African and African-American History and Culture." Return to the Source 1, No. 4 (1982): 13.

Hilliard, Asa G. "Kemetic Concepts in Education." Nile Valley Civilizations: Proceedings of the Nile Valley Conference, Atlanta, Sept. 26-30. Edited by Ivan Van Sertima. New Brunswick: Journal of African Civilizations, 1984: 153-62.

Hilliard, Asa G. Afterword to the Wonderful Ethiopians of the Ancient Cushite Empire, by Drusilla Dunjee Houston. Baltimore: Black Classic Press, 1985.

Hilliard, Asa G. "Blacks in Antiquity: A Review." African Presence in Early Europe. Edited by Ivan Van Sertima. New Brunswick: Journal of African Civilizations, 1985: 90-95.

Hilliard, Asa G. Introduction to Stolen Legacy, by George G.M. James. San Francisco: Julian Richardson Associates, 1985.

Hilliard, Asa G. Foreword to Golden Names for a Golden People: African and Arabic Names, by Nia Damali. Atlanta: Blackwood Press, 1986.

Hilliard, Asa G. "Pedagogy in Ancient Kemet." Kemet and the African Worldview: Research, Rescue and Restoration. Edited by Maulana Karenga and Jacob H. Carruthers. Los Angeles: University of Sankore Press, 1986: 131-50.

Hilliard, Asa G. The Cultural Unity of Black Africa: The Domains of Patriarchy and of Matriarchy in Classical Antiquity." Great African Thinkers. Vol. 1, Cheikh Anta Diop. Edited by Ivan Van Sertima and Larry Obadele Williams. New Brunswick: Journal of African Civilizations, 1986: 102-109.

Hilliard, Asa G. Introduction to From the Browder File, by Anthony T. Browder. Washington, D.C.: Institute of Karmic Guidance, 1989.

Hilliard, Asa G. "Kemetic (Egyptian) Historical Revision: Implications for Cross Cultural Evaluation and Research in Education." Evaluation Practice 10, No. 2 (1989): 7-23.

Hilliard, Asa. G. "Waset, The Eye of Ra and the Abode of Maat: The Pinnacle of Black Leadership in the Ancient World." Egypt Revisited. Rev. ed. Edited by Ivan Van Sertima. New Brunswick: Journal of African Civilizations, 1989: 211-38.

Hilliard, Asa G. "Ancient Africa's Contribution to Science and Technology." NSBE: National Society of Black Engineers Magazine 1, No. 2 (1990): 72-75.

Hilliard, Asa G. Foreword to Kemet and Other Ancient African Civilizations: Selected References, compiled by Vivian Verdell Gordon. Chicago: Third World Press, 1991.

Hilliard, Asa G. "The Meaning of KMT (Ancient Egyptian) History for Contemporary African-American Experience, Part II" Color 1, No. 2 (1991): 10-13.

Hilliard, Asa G. A Selected Bibliography (Classified) and Outline on African-American History from Ancient Times to the Present: A Resource Packet. Rev. ed. Atlanta: Hilliard, 1991.

Hilliard, Asa G. "The Meaning of KMT (Ancient Egyptian) History for Contemporary African-American Experience." Phylon 49, Nos. 1-2 (1992): 10-22.

Hilliard, Asa G. Bringing Maat, Destroying Isfet: The African and African Diasporan Presence in the Study of Ancient Kmt. Atlanta: Hilliard, 1993.

Hilliard, Asa G. Fifty Plus Essential References on the History of African People. Baltimore: Black Classic Press, 1993.

Hilliard, Asa G. "Bringing Maat, Destroying Isfet: The African and African Diasporan Presence in the Study of Ancient Kmt." Egypt: Child of Africa. Edited by Ivan Van Sertima. New Brunswick: Journal of African Civilizations, 1994: 127-47.

Hilliard, Asa G. The Maroon Within Us. Baltimore: Black Classic Press, 1994.

Hilliard, Asa G. SBA: The Reawakening of the African Mind. Foreword by Wade W. Nobles. Gainesville: Makare, 1997.

Works by Asa G. Hilliard in Collaboration with Others

Hilliard, Asa G., Larry Obadele Williams, Nancy Harris, and Charlyn Harper-Bolton, comps. From Ancient Africa to African-Americans Today. Portland: Portland Public Schools, 1983.

Hilliard, Asa G., Larry Obadele Williams, and Nia Damali, eds. The Teachings of Ptahhotep: The Oldest Book in the World. Atlanta: Blackwood, 1987.

Hilliard, Asa G., Lucretia Payton-Stewart, and Larry Obadele Williams, eds. Infusion of African and African-American Content in the School Curriculum: Proceedings of the First National Conference, October 1989. Morriston: Aaron Press, 1990.

Hilliard, Asa G., and Larry Obadele Williams. The Struggle to Bring True African History Into Being. Los Angeles: Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations, 1992.

Theresa Perry, Claude Steele, and Asa Hilliard. Young, Gifted, and Black. Beacon Press // 176 pages / February 2002.

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