The aspect of African-American Studies is key to the lives of African-Americans and those involved with the welfare of the race. African-American Studies is the systematic and critical study of the multidimensional aspects of Black thought and practice in their current and historical unfolding (Karenga, 21). African-American Studies exposes students to the experiences of African-American people and others of African descent. It allows the promotion and sharing of the African-American culture.
However, the concept of African-American Studies, like many other studies that focus on a specific group, gender, and/or creed, poses problems. Therefore, African-American Studies must overcome the obstacles in order to improve the state of being for African-Americans. According to the book, Introduction to Black Studies, by Maulana Karenga, various core principles make of the basis of African-American Studies. Some of the core principles consist of 1)history, 2)religion, 3)sociology, 4)politics, and 5)economics.
The core principles serve as the thematic “glue” which holds the core subjects together. The principles assist with the expression of the African-American Studies discipline (Karenga, 27). The core principle of history is primary factor of African-American Studies. History is the struggle and record of humans in the process of humanizing the world i. e. shaping it in their own image and interests (Karenga, 70). By studying history in African-American Studies, history is allowed to be reconstructed. Reconstruction is vital, for over time, African-American history has been misleading.
Similarly, the reconstruction of African-American history demands intervention not only in the academic process to redefines and reestablishes the truth of Black History, but also intervention in the social process to reshape reality in African-American images and interests and thus, self-consciously make history (Karenga, 69). African American History or Black American History, a history of African-American people in the United States from their arrival in the Americas in the Fifteenth Century until the present day.
In 1996, 33. 9 million Americans, about one out of every eight people in the United States, were African-American. Although African-American from the West Indies and other areas have migrated to the United States in the Twentieth Century, most African- Americans were born in the United States, and this has been true since the early Nineteenth Century. Until the mid-20th century, the African-American population was concentrated in the Southern states. Even today, nearly half of all African-Americans live in the South. African-Americans also make up a significant part of the population in most urban areas in the eastern United States and in some mid-western and western cities as well .
Africans and their descendants have been a part of the story of the Americas at least since the late 1400s. As scouts, interpreters, navigators, and military men, African-Americans were among those who first encountered Native Americans. Beginning in the colonial period, African-Americans provided most of the labor on which European settlement, development, and wealth depended, especially after European wars and diseases decimated Native Americans (http://encarta. msn. com). Thus, history plays a role in the way African-Americans have shaped the world over time.
The core concept of African-American religion has always played a vital roles in the African-American life since its beginnings in Africa. Religion is defined as thought, belief, and practice concerned with the transcendent and the ultimate questions of life (Karenga, 211). The vast majority of African Americans practice some form of Protestantism. Protestantism’s relatively loose hierarchical structure, particularly in the Baptist and Methodist denominations, has allowed African Americans to create and maintain separate churches.
Separate churches enabled blacks to take up positions of leadership denied to them in mainstream America. In addition to their religious role, African American churches traditionally provide political leadership and serve social welfare functions. The African Methodist Episcopal Church, the first nationwide black church in the United States, was founded by Protestant minister Richard Allen in Philadelphia in 1816. The largest African American religious denomination is the National Baptist Convention, U. S. A. , founded in 1895.
A significant number of African Americans are Black Muslims. The most prominent Black Muslim group is the Nation of Islam, a religious organization founded by W. D. Fard and Elijiah Poole in 1935. Poole, who changed his name to Elijiah Muhammad, soon emerged as the leader of the Nation of Islam. Elijiah Muhammad established temples in Detroit, Chicago, and other northern cities. Today, Louis Farrakhan leads the Nation of Islam. A small number of African American Muslims worship independently of the Nation of Islam, as part of the mainstream Islamic tradition (http://encarta. msn. com).
Presented with the fact that African-American religion is predominately Judeo-Christian, the tendency is to view it as “white religion in black face”. However, the rooting of the two religions varies due to the historical and social experiences (Karenga, 212). African-American over time has somewhat declined in its power. The church was once the sole basis of the community, especially to those in need. Today, this is speculated to be the link in the decline in the bonding of the African-American community. The core principle of African-American sociology integrates the various aspects and social reality from an African-American perspective.
African-American sociology is defined as the critical study of the structure and functioning of the African-American community as a whole, as well as the various units and processes which compose and define it, and its relations with people and the forces external to it (Karenga, 269). African-American sociology involves the study of family, groups, institutions, views and values, relations of race, class and gender and related subjects. The African-American community, like other communities, is defined by the sharing of common space.
Parts of its common space, however, are bounded areas of living, such as ghettos, which not only close African-Americans in the community, but simultaneously shuts them out from the access and opportunities available in the larger, predominately Caucasian society (Karenga, 302). The concept of isolation creates areas of poverty. Socially, isolation in ghettos prevents the cycle of diversity society, allowing prevailing stereotypes to surface. The immense concentration of African-Americans is a reason for disadvantages, such as joblessness, poverty, etc.
Statistics suggest that the employment rate issue is an essential on among African-American women. The average rate of unemployment among African-American women in the 1980’s was 16% and was higher for African-American men (Giddings, 350). Thus, the concept of diversity prevents African-Americans from thriving socially. The core concept of African-American politics can be defined as the art and process of gaining, maintaining and using power (Karenga, 311). The institution of politics has played a role in the African-American community since the 15th amendment was passed, allowing African-American men the right to vote (Constitution).
In order to obtain political power, however, there are eight bases: 1) key positions in government 2) voting strength 3) community control 4) economic capacity 5) community organization 6) possession of critical knowledge 7) coalition and alliance and 8) coercive capacity. In order to attain these, African-Americans must unite, for unity strengthens weak groups (African-Americans) and increases the power of others (Caucasians) (Karenga, 363). Over time, African-Americans have made substantial strides in politics.
Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson, who ran for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988, brought exceptional support and force to African-American politics. In 1989, Virginia became the first state in U. S. history to elect an African- American governor, Douglas Wilder. In 1992, Carol Moseley-Braun of Illinois became the first African-American woman elected to the U. S. Senate. Today, Moseley-Braun is a candidate for the Presidency of the United States (Franklin, 612). There were 8,936 African-American office holders in the United States in 2000, showing a net increase of 7,467 since 1970.
In 2001, there were 484 mayors and 38 members of Congress. The Congressional Black Caucus serves as a political alliance in Congress for issues relating to African- Americans. The appointment of African-Americans to high federal offices? including Colin Powell (chairman of the U. S. Armed Forces Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1989-1993; Secretary of State, 2001-present), Ron Brown (Secretary of Commerce, 1993-1996), and Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas? also demonstrates the increasing power of African-Americans in the political arena (http://encarta. msn.
com). Despite the advances of African-Americans in the political scene, the rate of voting has immensely declined compared to 40 years ago. According to statistics, less than 20% of African-Americans between the ages of 18 and 24, the most vital voting age group, voted in the last 40 years (http://www. rockthevote. org ). African-American voting’s disappointing decline over time has become a setback in regards to power, for politics control most of the issues that concern society, such as healthcare, housing, and employment: issues that the African-American community are in need of improving.
The core concept of economics is defined as the study and process of producing, distributing (or exchanging) and consuming goods and services. Economically, African-Americans have benefited from the advances made during the Civil Rights era. The racial disparity in poverty rates has narrowed to some extent. The African-American middle class has grown substantially. In 2000, 47% of African-Americans owned their homes. However, African-Americans are still underrepresented in government and employment.
In 1999, median income of African American household was $27,910 compared to $44,366 of non-Hispanic Caucasians. Approximately one-fourth of the African-American population lives in poverty, a rate three times that of Caucasians. In 2000, 19. 1 % of the African-American population lived below poverty level as compared to 6. 9% of Caucasians population. The unemployment gap between African-Americans and Caucasians has grown. In 2000, the unemployment rate among African-Americans was almost twice the rate for Caucasians.
The income gap between African-American and Caucasian families also continue to widen. Employed African-Americans earn only 77% of the wages of Caucasians in comparable jobs, down from 82% in 1975. In 2000, only 16. 6% of African-Americans 25 years and older earned bachelor’s or higher degrees in contrast to 28. 1% of Caucasians. Although rates of births to unwed mothers among both African-Americans and Caucasians have risen since the 1950’s, the rate of such births among African-Americans is three times the rate of Caucasians (DeBose, 1).
Thus, the state of African-American economics have flourished over time, yet remains in a state of improvement. Whether one talks about poverty, incomes, jobs, etc. , all imply and necessitate the concern with economics in the African-American community (Karenga, 355). Conclucively, the possibility of problems arising towards the discipline of African-American Studies are rooted in the birth of the discipline itself (Karenga, 476). The mission of the discipline, problematic administrators, and campus opposition are examples of obstacles that often attempt to prevent the missions of African-American Studies.
However, African-American Studies has continued to defend its stance over time. Thus, as long as there is an African-American culture, the quest for knowledge in the African-American studies field will remain. Works Cited DeBose,Brian. “Reclaiming the Mission”. Nov. 2002 . Franklin, John Hope. From Slavery to Freedom. Nashville, TN: McGraw-Hill, 2000. Giddings, Paula. When and Where I Enter . New York:Perrenial, 1984. Karenga, Malauna. Introduction to Black Studies. Los Angeles: University of Sankore Press ? Third Edition, 2002. http://encarta. msn. com http://www. rockthevote. com.
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