Afrocentric theory of social change

Subject: American History
Type: Analytical Essay
Pages: 4
Word count: 1136
Topics: Critical Race Theory, Racism, Slavery


According to the Afrocentric Theory of Social Change, the invasion of the African continent by the Europeans through colonialism and slavery led Africans to lose their cultural plight and identity. The outcome is that since the invasion, Africans remain completely dislocated and disoriented, amidst a continued propagated African culture and social decay, which relegates the African culture and social norms to a footnote status to those of the Europeans and the western world (Asante, 2003). Therefore, Africans often live on borrowed European experiences, as opposed to living on their own historical and cultural terms.

The Afrocentricity Question

The major question that the Afrocentric Theory of Social Change asks, is what if Africans were to live and exist in a world that is completely free of any European or western world influences? To this end, the theory holds that Africans would then gain the true freedom. Therefore, this theory advocates for a return of the Africans to an intellectual consciousness of the true values of their unadulterated historical and cultural way of life, devoid of the Western world civilization (Asante, 2003). The theory holds that location, interpreted to mean the original cultural and historical norms of the African society, is central to the restoration of the African total freedom.

Eurocentricism dominance over Afrocentricity

The invasion and colonization of Africa by the Europeans created a scenario where Eurocentrism was instilled not as an alien and invasive cultural and social concept, but rather made to pass as the natural fit (Olaniyan, 1992). The continued dominance of Eurocentrism centuries after African colonization and enslavement has then made the Africans to unconsciously apply the Eurocentric cultures as the yard stick against which to judge the African cultural values and ideals. However, the Afrocentric Theory of Social Change holds that that is the point where Africans go wrong. Instead of applying the Eurocentric cultural yardstick to judge the African cultural values, historical norms and ancestral traditions, the theory advocates for Africans to become own agents and apply African cultures as the yardstick (Olaniyan, 1992). The continued reference of the Africans to the Eurocentric cultures as the frame of reference against which the Afrocentric cultures derive approval or denouncement is therefore wrong. Therefore, to liberate and gain true freedom Africans should refuse to surrender to the powers and continued force of Eurocentrism make universal what is patently a self-centered cultural and ideological formulation (Olaniyan, 1992).

The Afrocentric Remedy

In this respect, the Afrocentric Theory of Social Change holds that relocation back to the authentic African ways of life is the remedy to the challenges of disoriented and disregarded African cultural values, which have been trampled and relegated to the periphery by the European cultural domination. Therefore, Africans must embrace Africanness fully, through becoming intellectually and consciously centered on acting as their own agency (Asante, 2003). According to the theory therefore, it only when Africans consciously relocate and fully adopt behaviors, attitudes and ways of life that are purely African and true to their historical realities and cultural traditions, that they will be fully liberated (Asante, 2003). The theory holds that the African culture can only gain relevance and command respect from the western cultures, only when the Africans take pride in their historical norms and cultures, and consciously and deliberately embraces their true African cultures and ancestral traditions. Therefore, the Afrocentric Theory of Social Change holds Afrocentricity as a frame of reference, where all Africans become their own agents in defining their stand points as an authentic and a free-standing society, and not a victim of the European and Western cultures molestation (Olaniyan, 1992).

Rejuvenation of Africanness

Africanness can only win against the storms of molestation by the European cultures, when the Africans recognize and deliberately uphold the centrality of the African cultural values and historical ideals to their own being and as own agents (Asante, 2003). To this end, the Afrocentric Theory of Social Change advocates that Africans must now relocate and reconnect with the true African culture, for there to be absolute and true freedom from the dominance of the other cultures. The African people must then conceive themselves as victors against the domination of the European cultures, and become agents of their own cultural rebirth that kills any iota of the colonizer cultures in their psyche and mind (Asante, 2003). The rebirth will effectively turn the Africans away from the colonial cultures and put the centrality of the African civilizations at the core defining actions, behaviors and values that cultivate and meet the African contemporary needs.

Critical Race Theory


The Critical Race Theory recognizes that racism is engrained at the core of the American culture, where white power and white supremacy has evolved as the fundamental basis by which the whites perpetuate the marginalization and dominance of the other races (Crenshaw, Gotanda, Peller & Thomas, 1995). The theory further holds that the law remains another fundamental basis upon which the continued white supremacy and dominance of other races is anchored.

Law and Racism

The law is supposed to be both neutral and colorblind, so that it can effectively manage to cater for the impartiality and neutrality that the justice system is supposed to render to parties (Crenshaw, Gotanda, Peller & Thomas, 1995). Nevertheless, a critical in America would indicate that the law is neither colorblind nor neutral as envisaged by the principle of justice. This is because; the enactment of the legal traditions and the formulation of the law in America applied a system that solely focused on the whites as the subjects (Crenshaw, Gotanda, Peller & Thomas, 1995). In this respect, while the traditions and the norms of law in America focus on the protection of the interests of the white subjects, the other races have largely remained objects. The interests of the marginalized groups have therefore never been legitimized within the framework of the law, making it difficult for such parties to escape racial discrimination (Crenshaw, Gotanda, Peller & Thomas, 1995). Therefore, the liberation of the American society from racism cannot simply occur on account of the premise of the law and right-based remedies, but rather through radical transformations of a political nature (Crenshaw, Gotanda, Peller & Thomas, 1995).

Multidimensionality of marginalization

According to the Critical Race Theory, race alone is not to account for racism and all the other ills of disempowerment that the people of color in America face (Crenshaw, Gotanda, Peller & Thomas, 1995). Instead, there is an intersection of multiple factors that come into play to make racism a major cause of disempowerment to the people of color.  For example, while race may determine the nature of job an individual access and the respective economic gains accrued, other factors such as sex, nationality, sexual orientation and class also play out in different settings to create the oppression (Crenshaw, Gotanda, Peller & Thomas, 1995).

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  1. Asante, M. K. (2003). Afrocentricity: The theory of social change. Chicago, Ill: African American Images.
  2. Crenshaw, K., Gotanda, N., Peller, G. & Thomas, K. (1995). Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings that Formed the Movement. New York: The New Press.
  3. Olaniyan, T. (1992). Discussing afrocentrism. African Studies 3, pp. 4-16.
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