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An Open Discussion on The Lack of Knowledge We Have On African History Due to Cultural WhiteWashing

Updated on October 11, 2015


I am currently enrolled in an African Studies class in college. At first, I took the class merely as an alternative to an art history class that I didn't really want to take. (I mean seriously how many art history classes does a design major have to take I get the point) I must admit after taking the class I was pleasantly surprised about the knowledge I started to receive. I (like many other students) didn't know that much about African history. I mean sure they teach us a thing or two in grade school and yes we're all aware of Black History Month, but I mean I didn't really know that much about the true struggles of many of the enslaved africans. I won't list every detail in this blog but I will share my thoughts on the situation.

Before Capture

Africa is a huge continent. We're talking three times the size of Europe and almost double that of the U.S. The people of Africa during the the period were also not brute.There were many villages in Africa that had complex systems of ruling hierarchy. The villages usually had an appointed leader as well as systematic methods for doing things. Many villages had boats, huts, means of gathering food, and rituals performed for different occasions. In the fifteenth century when the Europeans invaded the African coasts, they were careful in such to not invade villages whom spoke in similar dialect close in proximity. If they did that, then more africans would be aware of oncoming attackers from other nearby villagers and be prepared to fight.

Cultural Whitewashing

Like many of my other classmates, I wasn't aware exactly how Africans lived and their overall contribution to society at large. This is largely due to the fact that growing up, our school systems didn't really get to into detail about what africans have done for society. I mean think about it; we have streets named after George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt and other famous historians. We were conditioned and taught at an early age the advances that these men have made for early america. It's sort of funny how in textbooks and other forms of media it was never mentioned that men like Theodore Roosevelt were notorious slave owners. Seriously it's mindblowing to not realize that a lot of the tall skyscrapers we see in big cities were works of African Americans and not Europeans. A lot of Africans were skilled in producing tall monuments and knew how to mathematically do so. We do know the contributions African Americans have made to modern society but we do not know of the past. We all know the history of African slaves and their fight to freedom but we rarely know the other contributions they haven't been given credit for.

Enslavement/Middle Passage.

Once captured, by the Europeans, Africans would be bounded together by chains, stripped naked, and passed on along the coast to slave traders who would trade the "good" ones for gold before they boarded the ship. Once boarded on the ship, the Africans faced harsh circumstances as the ships were designed to hold a select number of bodies. They were usually piled on top of one another, fed poorly, and had no selected place to urinate and defecate. A lot ended up dying from poor living conditions and the ones that survived often contemplated suicide or failed in succeeding. Dead bodies would simply be thrown over into the ocean. it's very disturbing to picture this happening to people.


I reiterate the fact that this isn't a blog detailing all the specific events that occurred within that time period. A lot of the information I received was actually from a book titled "Freedom on My Mind" written by Deborah Gray White, Mia Bay, and Waldo E. Martin in addition to the course i am talking in school. I am still in awe over the fact that a lot of the great advances that people of color have made have been somehow downplayed, largely ignored, and/or cast aside without much significance. Advancements people of color have made in recent times, like the Civil Rights Movement and public figures such as Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King are well known to us, but the scriptures depicting African capabilities and of the past are erased and shrouded in mystery.

What are your thoughts on this? Feel free to share your thoughts on the comments below.


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    • Introchannel profile image

      Introchannel 2 years ago

      Thanks for your comment! Yes I wholeheartedly agree we have been fed since we were young (at least my generation) a white-washed version of history. Since taking this class I have gained so much more knowledge and have remodified some of my belief systems that I've acquired over the years in regards to this subject.

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 2 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      Young man, Africa was the root of all civilizations and cultures in the world. Africans were the first peoples on this earth. African civilization and culture were advanced in scope from Egypt, Nubia, and Timbuktu. The Moors who conquered Europe and imparted civilization there were an African people.

      Of course, history is written by the so-called victors and the dominant peoples at the time. Europeans purposely refuse to acknowledge the African contributions to civilization, culture, & society to Africoid peoples throughout the world. They subconsciously knew that if Africoid people were aware of their immense culture & civilization, they would rebel. Europeans knew that the Africoid people are a strong, resourceful, & intelligent people. They used the ruse of propagating so-called African inferiority to retain their racial & cultural hegemony i.e. dominance over people of color, particularly Africoid peoples.