DOI: 10.1177/00219347231214827 ISSN: 0021-9347

African American Redemption in the Pan-African Metropolis: Africanized Identities, Pan-African Lives and the African World Festival in Detroit

El-Ra Adair Radney
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Anthropology
  • Cultural Studies

The article is situated within the conceptual lineage of St. Clair Drake and Horace Cayton’s groundbreaking Black Metropolis model. However, it provides a new way of considering this intellectual heritage. The analysis suggests that African American traditions of Pan-Africanism have not been expansively addressed in their magnitude on Black urban sociology. Drake and Cayton’s theorization is reconfigured as it exists within a Pan-African value system for the contemporary Black (Diasporic) city. The research presents “unsung” Pan-African tropes that are central to the maintenance of the Black city’s identity and psychological cohesion. If the mind is the “primary battlefield” as Garvey insists, then it is important to note the (beneficial) psychological impact that African American redemption and the Pan- African Metropolis can bestow on African Americans. The discussion locates Pan-Africanism as a tangible operating mechanism on African Americans’ lifestyle, mental health, and (Africanized) identities within Detroit’s Black community. Field observations of Detroit’s African World Festival connect these festival spaces as they characterize and drive the city’s identity, psychology, economic considerations, and ultimately, Pan-African groundings. The sustainability of an Afrocentric philosophy and psychology has enhanced the Black city in the manifestation of a distinctive cultural political economy. The Pan African Metropolis emerged during Detroit’s Black Arts Movement (the 1970s of my youth). To this end, the article pushes back against “the lie” which overgeneralizes African Americans in a Black deficit homogeneity, whereas the “alleged Black American monolith” is not connected to any operating African continuum in their daily lives.

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