Black Americans who claim Egypt was a black civilization and the progenitor of Western civilization have created a "therapeutic mythology" but they aren't talking about history, says UC Davis history professor Clarence E. Walker.
In his new book, "We Can't Go Home Again: An Argument About Afrocentrism," historian Walker critiques Afrocentrism, which has been a popular movement in schools and universities as well as black communities over the past four decades.
"The scholars who call themselves Afrocentrists have not written history in the strictest sense of the term; what they have produced is a therapeutic mythology designed to restore the self-esteem of black Americans by creating a past that never was," he writes.
Walker, who specializes in the study of black history, the sociology of American race relations and American popular culture, points out that Afrocentrism is silent about the context of slavery and the slave trade. He says most of the blacks taken to the Americas had been slaves in Africa or occupied some other dependent or subordinate position in African society.
"Tribalism did not prevent Africans from selling members of their own tribes in order to satisfy the demand for slaves in the Americas," Walker writes.
Walker says he is especially disturbed by Afrocentrism because of its dangerous political implications.
"Within the context of contemporary black political and cultural politics, Afrocentrism constitutes a form of totalitarian groupthink," he says.