John L. Jackson, Jr., Ph.D., the Richard Perry University Professor of Communication and Anthropology, has published an article in the journal Civilisations (Volume 58, Number 1) titled “All Yah’s Children: Emigrationism, Afrocentrism, and the Place of Israel in Africa.”
This article delineates the emigration story of some African Americans (the “African Hebrews of Jerusalem”) who left the United States for Africa in the late 1960s. Their journey was predicated, this essay argues, on something similar to an Afrocentric sensibility, a mixture of Marcus Garvey-esque calls for an African-centered politics along with conceptual/intellectual claims about an ontological African alterity, the same intellectual claims that were just beginning to get codified in the American academy (as the philosophy of Afrocentricity) when these African Americans left for Liberia—and then Israel. Prof. Jackson maintains that these “Hebrew Israelites” represent a complicated kind of Afrocentrism, even a Hebraicized version of Afrocentrism, which does not necessarily mesh with certain canonized renditions of Afrocentric thinking. Moreover, their mass-mediated conceptions of “the body” and its physical capacities help to further explain their purposeful omission from broader discussions about Afrocentricity and its historical/institutional relationship to other varieties of African-centered counter-discourse.