Becoming African in America: Race and Nation in the Early Black Atlantic Written by James Sidbury Oxford University

Press, 2007
A book review

Reviewed by Kendra M. Harris 1

This review suggests James Sidbury has written his book to read as an undemanding compacted history text. Becoming African in America explicates this precise power dynamic.Abstract The power that is held by a writer is astonishingly remarkable. By his own admittance. The book succinctly focuses on the road leading to social identity in the early Atlantic for African descendants. Becoming African in America was researched and written over a period of ten years which should assure the reader informational credence. 2 . Writers coined terms to reverentially identify a race of people in a non inclusive nation.

is now being transitioned to a new 3 . used to identify blacks in The New World. and Wolof (etcetera) ethnic groups and they never considered themselves solely “African. Sidbury. Sidbury has written the book in a non biased tone that is genial and conducive to a rising generation of historians. By his own admittance. in the year 2009. Becoming African in America was researched and written over a period of ten years which should give the reader great assurance in the information held in his book. the term African. In written poems and letters. was invented. is location. Africa. This book reads as a compacted history textbook with high-quality information and it is reader friendly. as a 18th and 19th century scholar of early America and African Diaspora Studies. The inhabitants of that location were of the Mandinka. Fullah. however. a professor at the University of Texas at Austin. Writers have the ability to create a world as they see appropriate. America. sculpting social philosophy. African was not a word whereby identification was encompassed.The power that is held by a writer is astonishingly remarkable. Not being born on the continent of Africa or even stepping onto the land.” Nevertheless. James Sidbury. tells how writers such as Phyllis Wheatley and Ignatius Sancho launched a coined term for an entire race of people to reverentially identify themselves in a non inclusive nation. Becoming African in America explicates this precise power dynamic. they were writers with enough power to spearhead the spoken identity of a new nation utilizing memories of stories told from where they emerged. made an eloquent contribution to this body of literature while the discipline still struggles to remain credible nationwide. He has gone into exhaustively conducted research to assure that the information is accurate and informative. Wheatley and Sancho identified themselves as “African” to represent the indiscernible and/or enslaved people in the Americas.

Sidbury shows the circular thinking pattern of black people in America displaying the bewilderment present 4 . Mr. Becoming African in America: Race and Nation in the Early Black Atlantic speaks to Cybernetic Epistemology. What constitutes a sense of knowing in identifying African Americans? Is it that they were born on America’s soil or taken from the land of Africa? If not taken from the land of Africa they would. otherwise. Becoming African in America: Race and Nation in the Early Black Atlantic holds the information forgotten by African descendants in America or encompasses perplexity of a nation without identity in the early black Atlantic and during the present day. that set forth to provide funding and transportation to relocate freed blacks fancying emigration. Sidbury has compiled information to carry along this journey of transformation by collecting the information in his book. questions propound an indication of recursive system theories taken by African Americans used to arrive at a timeless way of knowing. The American Colonization Society was the founding force of Liberia. The information and feedback gained through ACS caused conflicting and divisive changes in the minds of blacks regarding their social. determines the outcome for the future. going into this philosophical shift. economical and genetic identity. and forthcoming. Would they be identified as “Africans” in that case? These.era and the way African Americans identify themselves. which caused more confusion than assistance with regards to identity for African Americans or Colored Americans or Black Americans or Americans. Mr. campaigns that assisted in the hopes of a white nation like the American Colonization Society (ACS). Sidbury writes about the “Go back to Africa” campaigns and organizations. have been born in Africa. a West African colony.

in his book. Western life has caused great confusion in the way the displaced culture bearers live. conveys awareness to the role African churches held in the structuring of identity among displaced Africans and their descendants. an American linguist) declaring that "language largely determines the way in which we understand reality. But the efforts of Paul Cuffe did not give solution to the social identity catastrophe. 1972. do African Americans identify themselves accordingly? James Sidbury." (Stewart/Bennett. p. He sheds light on the incessant wrangling in the late 1700’s and 1800’s as a result of confusion regarding social identity. how will (s) he view his/her reality with the Whorf hypothesis (hypothesis concluded by Benjamin Whorf. Would his efforts have produced an answer to the social identity question: How do we identify the descendants of Africans in America? If there 5 . how would his appearance lead others in identifying him? With native languages lost. regardless of birth locality. He wanted to immigrate to Africa or establish an African nation with the United States. African Americans have become accustomed to the "norms" of the society in which they live accepting the false "truths" that have been afforded them. Sidbury expounds on the efforts of Paul Cuffe and the AME church. 46) Because the given language is English. attempt to identify themselves. speak and acknowledge their identities. In America at present. How does a person born in America carrying the Y chromosome of an African identify himself? In a society where nonverbal communication weighs more heavily than verbal.when blacks both on and off the continent of Africa. think.

African Americans. we are still penalized. (Eisler. But if. working to establish a place in identification sovereignty according to religion. the first Africana President of the United States. I feel that it will take some time for change to descend to where 6 . One identity.were at least two cultural leaders. were there any other paradigms to establish a place in identification sovereignty among the masses? Corporate America operates without any form of the partnership model that is proposed by Riane Eisler. Black Americans strive for unity in identity without acknowledging African origin as a result of sharing the views of western society. November 4. a social scientist and author. In the year 2009. 2008 should be used as the recursive dialogue reflecting upon the confused nation (as a whole) of this country. The corporate ladder needs a new structural blue print to include the footprints of or based on all identities. I have no immediate foresight of drastic change in cultural patterns in this country. and breathing clearer knowing that I have witnessed a part of the history texts to be written for generations to come. 1994:33) Leaders of the most prestigious corporations in this country are not socially identifiable with the average African American. as we are in the west. in that identification. is good when identifying oneself. if that is what is desired. for our appearance then we have a long way to travel. This is the day and age of Barack Obama. have a tendency to become absorbed into that which is socially dominant. But should they be? Social identity shouldn't play a role in climbing the corporate ladder. Although I am thrilled for President Barack Obama. Phyllis Wheatley and Paul Cuffe. when regarded by social identity. American.

just as the action taken by Thomas Peters and the Nova Scotian exodus to Sierra Leone (pg.the people are (and to move up to where he is) or to reach those who are lower middle class or those who have not met the standards to be called middle class or those who are not even qualified to register as any class. Blacks are purposefully losing their identity derived from their African lineage just as the Nova Scotians that resided in Sierra Leone. The world is ushering possibilities of change for The United States. for some. Becoming African in America will be the starting point of ignited sparks stimulating research ideas for social science projects. And most Americans are fed up with the white supremacy way of knowing because the economy is moving. Currently. Jobs that were held by one group are now more competitively sought after which causes a crisis. along with the consciousness shift. notably southern United States. 91). The book succinctly focuses on the road leading to social identity in the early Atlantic for African descendants. It. I believe the consciousness shift is an act in order to know perspective taken by educated African Americans. 7 . Unfortunately. too. prompting possibilities for academic research expansion on any given subtitle listed in the book. there is a consciousness shift. was an attempt for harmonic survival and fair justice.

. From Domination to Partnership: The Hidden Subtext for Sustainable Change. (1972). 33 8 .References Stewart. Milton J. ProQuest Psychology Journals pg. Boston: Intercultural Press Eisler. Bennett. 4.. American Cultural Patterns: A Cross-Cultural Perspective. Riane. 7. (1994). Edward C. Journal of Organization and Change Management.

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