Luther College Chips

Africana studies: the study of self

Kelao Charmaine Neumbo, News Editor

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Given its name, many people assume that Africana studies is solely for Africans and people of African descent. Though it holds special meaning to us, it is truly for all who realize the importance of an informed perspective and diversity of opinion and people. For Black students especially, this discipline offers a sense of self, identity, and belonging.

In light of Luther considering the doing away of Africana studies as a major — and only offering a minor — the discipline’s continuity to effectively address an education system that was already out of touch with our experiences as people of color is challenged.

Everything that we know in our public system is through the eurocentric view. We can’t take into account the fullness of who we are, who our ancestors were, and what is being taught about us. We have to understand the diasporic experience of Black people. Africana studies is dedicated to understanding our world by switching the eurocentric archetype that we have been placed into, to an afrocentric paradigm. Essentially, it is the study of self.

“Our ancestors were much more important than they were thought to be and much more important than the education system deems and the study of those matters. Celebrating and studying Blackness cannot be confined to Black history month and we need programs like Africana studies to consolidate that.

-Kelao Charmaine Neumbo (‘22)

The common narrative of the history books were told from the perspective of colonizers who observed the ways of the “primitive savage,” how they were placed into the submission of slavery and how that led to systematic oppression; however, there’s more to us than just colonization and slavery.

It is very presumptuous to think that there is a mythical, essentialized, and monolithic Black body. There are so many different variations of Black people. We are so diverse. It is a trick to buy into the idea that we are all the same. On many campuses, an overall lack of respect for the discipline of Africana studies has caused instability for the students and for the program.

Furthermore, the lack of integration and distortion of African history is alarming. Everything, from our contribution to astronomy, biology, geometry, and physics, was purposefully overlooked. More so, the tragedy of enslavement and colonization, how Blacks were treated and stripped of dignity, and the struggles of what they went through to obtain their rights, do not receive full academic recognition. Our ancestors were much more important than they were thought to be and much more important than the education system deems and the study of that matters. Celebrating and studying Blackness cannot be confined to Black history month, and we need programs like Africana studies to consolidate that.

For the most part, those that teach and choose to take Africana studies courses have a relentless desire to understand and challenge societal perceptions of race, power, and tradition, and this perspective is needed now more than ever.

Opinions expressed in columns and letters are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Chips or organizations whith which the author(s) are associated.

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