Communicating Being Human Being: The Transformation of the Race Discourse with Dr. Molefi Asante

November 03, 2022
2:30 PM - 3:30 PM CT

Registration is required to attend this event.

In a very telling passage in his popularly acclaimed book, How to be an Antiracist Ibram X. Kendi, the brilliant writer asked a question and makes statements in this vein, "What's the problem with being "not racist"? It is a claim that signifies neutrality: 'I am not a racist, but neither am I aggressively against racism.' But there is no neutrality in the racism struggle. The opposite of "racist" isn't "not racist." It is antiracist." Kendi is right to see racist not merely as descriptive but as pejorative. Our objective is to go even farther and to proclaim that only the end of the language of race itself can solve the problem of racism.

I am interested in social transformation of an illusory concept that has penetrated domestic and international space since its beginning in the deep trenches of religious and mythological thought. Propagated by the various engines of communication, war, insults, projection, rote memory, symbols, coats-of-arms, medallions, and writing, this race illusion has become the bane of the international order. For centuries, the European cultural expression has been wrapped in the fabrics of this invention and has spread its cover worldwide. But Europe is neither the first nor the only promoter of this racial idea; it is perhaps the most efficient and the source of the greatest crimes against humanity based on this false doctrine of segmenting the human population by ranked categories. Indeed, few cultures have been as aggressive as the Europeans since the end of the Great Bubonic Plague, or White Death, which peaked in the 14th century with more than 100 million people dead. Learned men and women sought ways to explain the meaning of the incredible devastation of people by the pestilence of Yersinia pestis. Alongside religious references and conspiracies there were mythological re-imaginations that lent a motivation to the already ingrained attitudes about humanity.

As communicationists we are concerned with relationship as the coin of effective interactions. Seeing ourselves as humans, Homo sapiens, without ranking of difference allows us to abandoned false notions created by the Enlightenment racial ladder now embedded in the imagination and memory of too many people.

Molefi Kete Asante is Professor and Chair, Department of Africology and African American Studies at Temple University in Philadelphia. At Temple University he created the first Ph.D. Program in African American Studies in 1988. He also serves as the International Organizer for Afrocentricity International and is President of the Molefi Kete Asante Institute for Afrocentric Studies. Asante is a Guest Professor, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China and Professor Extraordinarius at the University of South Africa. Asante has published 85 books, more than 500 articles, is the founder of the theory of Afrocentricity, and is considered one of the most quoted living African authors. In 2019 he was named an NCA Distinguished Scholar.