Black Music / Black History / Afrocentrism
Acknowledging an African past is one way that black Americans
counter negative images of blacks and Africa. African American
culture, like black music, has roots in Africa, but incorporates
innovations and improvisations from other cultures. Music is one
path by which black creativity has reached the world. Marlon
Riggs muses that "without black music you can't imagine what
music might be on this earth."
- Why do you think Riggs includes black music in a flim about
- In the film, Barbara Smith complains that "we mythologize our
African past... and make assertions about the past that are not
necessarily true." What does she mean? Do you agree? How much
of your self-esteem is due to your identification with an ethnic
or racial group that has a heroic past and how much to your own
- The African past is as diverse as the black American present.
How might recognizing that diversity lead to better relations
within black communities?
- "I love kente cloth...But I don't confuse that with my
identity..I can also put on a pair of jeans, and I feel just as
black," asserts Angela Davis. What do you think Davis is
criticizing with her statement? Do you think wearing African
clothes, having an African name, or following Islamic or Yoruba
customs make you more black?
- In the film, teenagers argue about learning history. One
asks, "What's Martin Luther King gonna do for you now? What's
Harriet Tubman gonna do for you right now?" What value do you
find in black history? How have you been taught black history -
as the story of famous leaders or as the on-going struggles and
challenges of black people?