Africans Are Not Black : The case for conceptual liberation book cover
1st Edition

Africans Are Not Black
The case for conceptual liberation

ISBN 9781138389489
Published September 18, 2018 by Routledge
200 Pages

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Book Description

Africans are not literally black, yet they are called black. Why? This book explores the genesis and evolution of the description of Africans as black, the consequences of this practice, and how it contributes to the denigration (blackening) and dehumanisation of Africans. It uses this analysis to advance a case for abandoning the use of the term ‘black’ to describe and categorise Africans. Mainstream discussions of the history of European racism have generally neglected the role of black and white colour symbolisms in sustaining the supposed superiority of those labelled white over those labelled black. This work redresses that neglect, by tracing the genesis of the conception of Africans as black in ancient Greece and its continued employment in early Christian writings, followed by an original, close analysis of how this use is replicated in three key representative texts: Shakespeare's Othello, the translation of the Bible into the African language Ewe, and a book by the influential Ghanaian religious leader, Mensa Otabil. It concludes by directly addressing the argument that ‘black’ can be turned into a positive concept, demonstrating the failure of this approach to deal with the real problems raised by imposing the term ‘black’ on its human referents.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Ancient Literature

3. Christianity

4. Othello

5. The Ewe Bible

6. Beyond the Rivers of Ethiopia

7. Against the Category

8. Against revaluation

9. Conclusion

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Kwesi Tsri is a teaching and research associate in the Equality Studies Centre, School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice at University College Dublin, Ireland. He holds a PhD in Equality Studies, MAs in Ethics and Morality and in Translation Studies, and BAs in Anthropology and Theology and in Philosophy. His research interests are anti-African racism, equality, ethics, identity, justice, morality and language.


'Kwesi Tsri's imaginative, meticulous and engaging argument has convinced me that "black" is a deeply problematic way of categorizing human beings. Tsri makes a compelling case, which neither those labelled "black" nor those labelled "white" can afford to ignore.'

John Baker, University College Dublin, Ireland.