The first African-American Studies (AAS) department in the United States was established in 1969 at San Francisco State University. Today there are hundreds of such departments on campuses nationwide. Most of the courses they offer, Manhattan Institute scholar John McWhorter observes, teach students that America is an irredeemably racist country, and that “racism and disadvantage are the most important things to note and study about being black.”
Many AAS programs heavily promote the tenets of Afrocentrism, which maintains that Africa was the scene of humanity's seminal achievements in philosophy, mathematics, science, architecture, and literature – and that its people's accomplishments in those fields were later “stolen” by white Europeans.
The individual most accredited with bringing Afrocentrism into both the public sphere and the classroom is the Temple University professor and self-described “African-American liberationist” Molefi Asante. Regarding his introductory course in Afrikan American Studies, Asante says: “We are building Afrikan communities … [T]he reading materials are our map, and Afrikan consciousness is our guide. Let us continue the process of Afrikan liberation!” By its own account, Temple's AAS department is devoted to promulgating Afrocentric theory and credentialing the next generation of professors to spread its cult to other schools.
Another AAS professor at Temple, Karanja Keita Carroll, requires his students to read the book Introduction to Black Studies by Maulana Karenga. A self-identified “African socialist,” Karenga founded the 1960s militant Black Power organization United Slaves, and created the holiday Kwanzaa.
The AAS program at Penn State University is representative of the polemical approach of such departments in encouraging students to see racial injustices pervading virtually every aspect of American society. Among the school's more notable AAS courses are the following:
- African American Women in the U.S. requires students to read works authored by such luminaries as Henry Louis Gates, Angela Davis, Alice Walker, bell hooks, and the former Black Panther and convicted cop-killer Assata Shakur.
- The Politics of Affirmative Action approaches the study of race preferences “in the context of the historic racial discrimination and inequality that Black Americans have faced since the founding of the Nation.”
- Inequality in America, taught by Professor David McBride, requires only two texts. One is Joe Feagin’s White Racism, which contends that “few whites are aware of how important racism is to their own feelings, beliefs, thinking and actions”; that all whites harbor unconscious feelings of racism against blacks; and that “black racism does not exist.” The second required text, Joseph Healey's Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Class: The Sociology of Group Conflict and Change, laments that minority groups in the United States continue to be discriminated against by the “dominant” white majority, and that “lynchings have not been relegated to the Civil War past.”
- The Status of Blacks in the Twentieth Century examines “the set of unequal power relations within the United States,” the evils of “racial capitalism,” and “the global apartheid international regimes supported by the United States.” Students are asked to ponder whether the ideology of “Afrocentrism” might provide “the essential instruments for combating the ‘new racism’ in the new era of colorblind America…”
- Minority Health concentrates on “social and cultural factors, poverty, racial and ethnic discrimination, and health care barriers that are causing minority groups to have much higher rates of illness and disease.”
The AAS program at the University of Colorado at Boulder offers a course titled The Civil Rights Movement in America, which teaches that whites persist in seeking to deny the black community “the right of self-determination” because they “fear a loss of identity whenever black people advance to a place they have not been before.”
The Arizona State University AAS class, Minority Group Politics – described in the course catalog as “an introduction to the dynamics of the African American political experience” – features the writings of America-hating leftists such as Huey Newton, Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael), and Angela Davis. Another course, (Un)Ruly Voices of African American Women Post Harlem Renaissance, teaches that “African American women's voices” historically “have not been heard in a society where largely women have been subject to men,” and where “dominant forces ... attempt to "silence" and "erase" them culturally.
The academic separatism of African American Studies is embodied in a University of Pittsburgh course titled Black Consciousness, taught by AAS department chair Cecil Blake, that teaches students exclusively from the Afrocentric perspective and presumes that there exist clearly identifiable -- and distinguishable -- African, European, and Asian “world views.” Another course, titled Racism and Capitalism, asserts that “the historical oppression of Black peoples cannot be explained without a comprehensive study and understanding of the historical and global linkages between Racism and Capitalism.”
One of the more eminent AAS programs in the United States is at Columbia University, where the course Introduction to African American Studies openly seeks to promote “social change” by requiring students to engage in political activism. Taught by Manning Marable, who is a member of the “central committee” of a Communist splinter group called the Committees of Correspondence, this class explores “ways for the black community to survive discrimination and oppression” and “almost constant adversity.”
A text that is used frequently throughout Professor Marable's course is Let Nobody Turn Us Around: Voices of Resistance, Reform and Renewal, an African American anthology edited by Marable himself. The latter half of this book is devoted almost exclusively to the writings of radical activists like Paul Robeson and former Black Panther Party members Stokely Carmichael, Angela Davis, and Huey Newton. An introduction to an essay by Mumia Abu Amal describes the death-row inmate and convicted cop-killer as “America's most celebrated and controversial prisoner on death row.”
Connected with Columbia's AAS department is the Africana Criminal Justice Project (ACJP), directed by Professor Marable and funded by George Soros's Open Society Institute. The facility in which this Project is based functions as an indoctrination and training center for Marable's view that America's criminal-justice system is structurally racist, and that black Americans remain victims of discrimination sanctioned by the highest levels of American government. Indeed, Marable describes the Project's work as part of his “struggle against systemic or structural racism” in the criminal-justice system and, more broadly, his “struggle to overturn the violence that is being meted out against millions of American citizens … particularly for citizens of African descent.”