Defining Pan-Africanism

Defining Pan-Africanism is a complex task due to the intricate nature of its being, but can best be described as a philosophy which advocates for the fellowship of Africans in culture, politics, and ideology. One of the founders of Pan-Africanism in its modern form is a man named Henry Sylvester-Williams. In 1897 he created what was called then called the African Association while in England in order to promulgate the interests of African people and the horrid injustices they were facing around the globe, and later organized the first Pan-African Conference. While Sylvester-Williams was an originator of Pan-Africanism, possibly its most prominent leader was Kwame Nkrumah, a teacher, politician, and activist who was vital in helping Gold Coast (now Ghana), secure its independence from the British empire. As the country’s Prime Minister, he held up Pan-African values by working to establish cultural and educational opportunities for men and women alike.Pan-Africanism was championed by men like Nkrumah, but the ideology has taken on other forms over time, including Afrocentrism, which in basic terms is an outlook that calls upon people of African heritage to appreciate and acknowledges traditional African values, which were thought to have been pushed to the side or outright ignored in the face of European slavery.Modern Afrocentrism is an intellectual and academic ideology which has its roots in the United States following the end of the Civil War and the new freedoms afforded to slaves, who worked to create their own communities and become educated. American civil rights activist W.E.B. Dubois is often credited with coining the phrase, but today, the individual most associated with Afrocentrism is Molefi Kete Asante, professor of African American studies at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.One of the often heard criticisms levied at Asante and Afrocentrism in general, is that it is a pseudoscience, which is defined as a system or claim that is supposedly scientific but does not adhere to the scientific method. Critics have said that Afrocentrism shouldn’t be rooted in academia because it promotes historical inaccuracies, vague generalizations, and racism, which are all counterproductive. Instead, the proper methodology should be used in order to understand fully and gain awareness of the history of African people. Despite, Afrocentrism continues to thrive as a sound practice which supports the scientific method,  defined as a formula which develops an hypothesis, experimentation, gathering the data, and then examining it to form a conclusion. Pseudoscience, on the other hand, does none of this, and in fact, can be extremely dangerous. One need only looks at the denial of the link between H.I.V. and AIDS or the refusal of vaccines and medical treatment for children by their parents to see the truly deadly consequences of pseudoscience. These examples are a reminder that failing to maintain a proper academic standard and balanced approach to intellectual literacy has real consequences, even if they are not yet fully apparent. Rejecting pseudoscience and religious “spookism”  will be important in redefining what it means to be conscious in the true legacy of Pan-Africanism and men like Sylvester-Williams and Nkrumah.


Importance of Science & Technology in the African American Community.

In the present information, age economies are no longer based on industrial manufacturing, but on the creation and distribution of information. This shift in the economy is the reason why it is important for our community to study science and technology in order to become active participants in our growth as a people. Businesses, banking, marketing, communication are all shifting to the online platform and unless people are adept at these technologies they will likely left behind. Today science and technology have become a part of our daily lives, so it’s important that we empower ourselves with the information that will allow us to engineer our destiny. If our goal is truly African Black Power, we have shifted our perspectives and make science and technology an important part of our social process.  According to the 2014 U.S. Census Bureau ACS study 27% of all African-American men, women and children live below the poverty level compared to just 11% of all Americans. So if do not wake up to the importance of studying science and technology, the percentages will only increase. Over the past three decades, there has been a lot of interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering mathematics). When any economy becomes knowledge based, it becomes important to have equal representation at the table in order to influence the workforce of the future. If there are fewer African American students in STEM, there will likely be fewer opportunities in high-ranking positions, and we will continue to be underrepresented in these influential positions. According to a 2003 study, faculty in science and engineering has only 3.7% African Americans as compared to other Americans which stands at 79% of all science and engineering faculty. Also, a Pew Research Center report released in 2015 shows the significant gap in science-based knowledge among various ethnic groups in the United States. In the survey they asked science-based questions, the average number of whites that answered the questions correctly was 8.5, Hispanics 7.1 and African-Americans scored lower than both these groups at 5.9. According to the National Science Board fewer blacks are opting for science and engineering degrees. In 2011 students that were awarded a bachelor’s degree in these subjects was whites 63% Hispanics 11% and only 9% blacks. Another report, suggests that African-American were less likely than whites or Asians to take advanced science courses. If this gap persists, then the gap in employment and knowledge of these subjects will also continue to rise. We must dispel the notion that it is not in our destiny and the “white science” myth. It is unfair and unjust to teach our children that science is white and have them miss the opportunity to compete in a society where some of the highest paid salaries are in science and technology.  Knowledge of science is not only an intellectual process but also a social and political process. Excluding our children from access to science and technological means we are creating barriers to our progress. In order to be equal partners in a social and political progress, it is important to have equal opportunity in science and technology and become self-reliant in building our community, teaching our children, and creating future opportunities for our youth. There is no doubt that Our community face obstacles that hinder our economic aspirations however, we have to reconsider how science and technology could help us to overcome these barriers. In order to be agents of change, a fundamental change needs to take place on how we view science socially, economically, and culturally. We must prepare our children for the future and value the importance of science and technology as a tool to overcoming systematic racism.
Voices of Fire Nyah

The Dangers of Pseudoscience!

Pseudoscience is a burden on society that causes misinformation and hinders growth. In the pan-African community, we strive to shed light on the misled and disarm pseudoscience. The word pseudo is defined as “not genuine; a sham.” From just the name it’s easy to work out that pseudoscience is a fake science however different types of pseudo-sciences manage to brainwash people every day into trusting in potentially harmful myths.One of the worst myths affecting the pan-African community today comes from Nicholas Wade. Wade published “A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History” in 2014. In this book, Wade discusses how different races are genetically superior to be more gifted in certain areas and also have specific personality traits.  For example, Wade believes that Europeans are forward thinking and successful while Africans are impulsive and quick to consume everything they have. By spreading misinformation to the masses, Wade stunts the growth of our communities by making them ignorant. You need to be able to think critically to develop, and pseudoscience thrives on black and white thinking.When creators of pseudo-sciences trick their followers into blindly following unsupported claims, the supporters begin to think about things in black and white. This concrete thinking style is closed off and prevents people from being open to change. By spreading black and white thinking amongst its followers, it severely dampens their potential to be innovative as they aren’t able to look outside their set beliefs. By striping people of some of their creative potential we rob society of potential innovations. Pseudoscience can often act like a cult; creators focus on trying to convince you that only they know the truth and anyone that doesn’t share their beliefs are dangerously ignorant. Creators of these false sciences want support for their beliefs. They want you to blindly follow them as they lack the proof to back their claims. This leads to a massive separation from a community as a wedge is split between them and pseudoscience followers to prevent their beliefs being challenged.Wade’s work is nothing short of scientific racism; it not only spreads ignorance but also promotes racial inequality. By promoting the idea that certain races are superior to others, he deprives people of opportunities. Once the belief of racial superiority begins to take root in people’s minds then discrimination rears its ugly head. Suddenly the color of your skin might give you a disadvantage at a job interview or from getting into the school you want. Even though pseudoscience can seem innocuous due to its ridiculous sounding beliefs and lack of scientific evidence, it is a dangerous threat lurking in the shadows. The lies and prejudices manage to worm their way into people’s heads through repetition and peer pressure come out subliminally through discriminative thoughts and actions. Don’t take my word for it, though, go out and research it; By questioning and researching everything and always keeping an open mind you can help fight pseudoscience.

Nyah Amara

The Voices of Fire purpose is to educate, inform, and the persuade the reader towards adopting a more sound approach to our history/information with the overall goal of redefining what it means to be conscious.