Narrative Essay

Instructions:
Please analyze the selected reading section taken from Cengage below (attached):
After reading your selected narrative, give a one-page interpretative analysis.
That is, based on the actual reading (information or facts from the author), compose logical and sound inferences (highly probable and highly likely the best perspective as any).
Example, A young lady is kneeling in the school hallway picking up her books; a male student is standing near her. What could have logically happened in this scenario?
Always include your facts (what you actually saw, read or heard): One, she’s kneeling; Two, books are on the floor; Three, there’s a male student; Four, they are in the hall.
What can you interpret to be logically what happened although you were not there?
Substance and content matter more than the length or how long.
Your paper must include any facts, actual information in the reading, etc.
Please do not write a summary, please…
Positing “Self,” Excluding Interaction with “Other”: Asante

Molefi Asante presents the future discipline of African American studies as one that investigates only the African side of the Du Boisean double consciousness. Rather than disrupting the self/other binary, Asante emphasizes a concept of the African “self” to the exclusion of an African American ethnicity or an American or Western culture with which African Americans interact. Subjectivity or agency for Asante means “totally disengaging “their” critical thinking from the traditional views held by whites,” thereby “secur”ing” a better vantage point on the facts … and hav”ing” a better handle on your own theoretical and philosophical bases” (20). Identifying the two classes of critics of Afrocentricity as “those who are simply opposed to any African self-determination and those who favor African self-determination within the framework of European experiences (21),” Asante defines Africology:

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The groundedness of observations and behaviour in the historical experiences of Africans becomes the main base for operation in the field of African American Studies. Centrism, the operation of the African as subject (or the Latino as subject or the European as subject, and so
forth), allows Africology to take its place alongside other disciplines without hierarchy and without hegemony. As a discipline, Africology is sustained by a commitment to centering the study of African phenomena, events, and persons in the particular cultural voice of the composite African people. But it does not promote such a view as universal.
Furthermore, it opens the door for interpretations of reality based upon evidence and data secured by reference to that world voice. (25)

He describes the doctoral program at Temple University as having two fields, cultural aesthetics and social behavioral, from which emanate two areas of research and responsibility:

Creative, inventive, artistic, literary:
epistemic issues, ethnicity, politics, psychology, and modes of behavior;
scientific issues, history, linguistics, economics, and methods of investigation;
artistic issues, icon, art, motifs, symbols, and types of presentation
Social, behavioral, action, historical:
relationships, the living, the dead, the unborn;
cosmos, culture, race, class, gender; mythoforms, origins, struggles, victories; and recognitions, conduct, designs, signs. (28)

He sees the scholars of the future as “advanc”ing” the relocating process in theory and practice as the generalship of the field improves in the give-and-take of debate,” and he welcomes to the field of study those who share its perspective, expecting “there will be those scholars of whatever cultural and racial background who will understand our abiding interest in free and full inquiry from our own centered perspective and who will become the new Melville Herskovitz and Robert Farris Thompsons” (28).

While Asante reminds the reader midway through the article that “the Afrocentric method pursues a world voice distinctly Africa-centered in relationship to external phenomena” and not “distinctly African,” his use of “African” at crucial times to describe what he terms as “African society, either on the continent or in the Americas” (26) constructs an African identity that empties Africa’s diaspora of the cultural syncretizations and transformations that occur(ed) within the Western context. Thus the “self” so constructed stands in diametric opposition to the European “other” and cannot engage in the disruption of the binary, for it does not acknowledge the binary. The opposite of Gates’s approach to the binary that reifies the “other,” Asante reifies the “self,” and his paradigm begs the question of how to connect variously centered scholarships that contain significant opposing elements and varying degrees of power over one another’s reality without replicating the dichotomy of difference.

African American Studies in the Borderlands

We have moved from the discourse of the color line to the discourse of borderlands. The borderlands, with its shifting boundaries that become entrenched, disappear, and are newly constituted, are contested areas, contested by both the population that controls the boundaries and also by those who have been restricted by the boundaries. The boundaries of the color line in the United States have shifted, yet racism remains and binaries that reinforce difference negatively regenerate modernity’s fragmentation reinforced by postmodernism’s replicative solution of the both/and binary.

Du Bois points the way for resolution of the self/other dichotomy, as does Carter G. Woodson. Both cross the fixed color line in their scholarship and theorizing and in so doing, illuminate the role of racism and ethnocentrism in “the mis-education of the Negro.” In their volume, Race Consciousness: African-American Studies for the New Century (1997), editors Fossett and Tucker signal the borderland scholarship that African American studies needs for the twenty-first century’s task of disrupting the binaries.10 It builds on twentieth-century scholarship, which analyzes race and challenges the assimilationist theories of Park and his progeny. Yet, being of the borderlands, it contends with postethnic theories that erase race and interrogate the various cultural, social, and political significances of Blackness historically and contemporarily. Robin D. G. Kelley’s introduction reminds us that the salient questions are “why the notion of a black community continues to carry weight among lots of ordinary people, why appeals to racial solidarity continue to work” rather than the criticism that black nationalists are essentialists and “trading in fictions” (11).

Correcting Gates, Hall, and Asante to address the self/other dichotomy means asserting the African American self as seeking wholeness and empowerment in contradiction to the fragmented self projected by the dominant Other. It also means recognizing the primacy of race and foregrounding race and racialization in methodology that examines the ways race and racialization are modified and modulated by intersections with class, ethnicity, gender, and sexual identity.11 The Du Boisean dichotomous dialectic is still significant in the postmodern borderlands, but it must not be misread as simply a statement of a factual binary. Rather, Du Bois signals the borderlands when he calls for a consciousness based on a merger that he well knows and demonstrates is fraught with ethnocentrism, racism, and sexism. And he signals and lives the dogged battle of self-assertion and agency in the face of the dehumanizing “other.”

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