A large percentage of African Americans have an ancestry that traces to West Africa, as indicated in colonial-era shipping records and DNA tests (Central Africa is second).
This African origin is/was used to justify many stereotypes about the intellectual and cultural abilities of blacks in America — stereotypes which arguably still influence the U.S. culture. As you write, be sure to differentiate between Africans and African Americans in your discussion as appropriate.
1.Does it make a difference if Americans are unaware or aware of what African pre-colonial ancestry really entails, in terms of believing steretypes? How and why?
2.Even if African Americans consider themselves as American first and completely equal, how would common social perceptions about the past and about racial ancestry/ability complicate everyday life? What are the ramifications for black Americans who are ordinary people, as are most other Americans, rather than exceptional achievers such as Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, George Washington Carver, ect, ?
3.Consider and compare European American and African American understandings about their ancient/contemporary identities and contributions to civilization — or chose another ethnic group to compare to African American people. Is ancestry information useful? Why or why not?
4.Do all people in the nation have the same amount of social power and what are the ramifications of ancestral perceptions given economic and political inequity among blacks, whites and other groups? Could it affect real life opportunities of entire groups of people? Has it in the past? Is it because of a failing in blacks or this about something else?
5.If there are such deep misperceptions about the various peoples and cultures of Africa, how might similar misperceptions carry over to African Americans of the U.S.? How would they manifest and why would they persist?
6.Assuming that blacks are as human as any other group and react and behave fundamentally as any other humans would, what do differences in current human conditions suggest about the influences of culture, exploitation and domination? How can this enlarge our understandings of people and explain human interactions?
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