The Toronto school system initiated its first Africentric school and children were greeted by an all female teaching staff, many of whom wore “African inspired fabric,” and head scarfs. Hope was expressed that children would finally learn about their “African heritage.” Actually, there have been “Afrocentric schools” for over a hundred years in the United States, they were then called, segregated schools. In a segregated school, students were taught by both male and female black skinned Americans, they learned about the heritage of those whose ancestors came from African societies and engaged in healthy self concept development.
A basic problem with an “Afrocentric” school is the assumption there is such a thing as “African” society. Teachers wore headscarfs, but in most African societies below the Sahara, few women wear such head garments. Of course, the history, culture and skin color of those from northern Africa is remarkably different from those inhabiting central Africa. I doubt if an Egyptian “African” believes there is any cultural, dress or historical linkage between his heritage and that of someone from central Africa.
“Africa” is a continent, it is not a society in which people are bound together by a common heritage. The real issue for education is ensuring that children from diverse backgrounds learn both of commonalities and differences. Yes, the history of African Americans has been poorly taught in schools. So, has the history of those of Italian, Greek, Hungarian, Polish, German and a dozen other cultural groups in America. Several years ago, students of Hispanic heritage rioted over another February dealing with Black History while there was nothing about their heritage.
The issue is incorporating multiple heritages and that is an enormous task. Unfortunately, too many multiculturalists believe there is something termed, “white history.” That assumes the history and culture of a European Italian is similar to that of a European Norwegian or Pole. There is need for global education and Afrocentric schools only add to confusion and distortion in teaching history.