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Imafidon, Elvis. Intrinsic Versus Earned Worth in African Conception of Personhood
2020, In: Imafidon, E. (ed.) Handbook of African Philosophy of Difference. Cham: Springer, 239-254
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Added by: Björn Freter
Abstract: Every human being ought to have some form of intrinsic value that she has in herself as well as earned or extrinsic value that she earns for herself. Although not free from contention, the possibility of a human being having certain intrinsic values is essential for the very idea of personhood. It is the reason why it would be wrong not to take a baby as a person simply because she is at that moment unable to earn some value for herself. In this chapter, I interrogate how the idea of personhood dominant in African cultures separates one category of persons from another category. In the first category of human beings, persons are intrinsically valued as persons due to their possession of certain ontological and normative qualities. In the second category, a few other persons are not intrinsically valued as persons due to their lack of certain required ontological and normative qualities needed to belong to the first category of human beings. But in this second category, such persons have the opportunity to earn the value of personhood given to those in the first category. Put differently, the other has the potential of becoming the one if he works tirelessly toward it through individual and group efforts. I explore three specific examples of the second category of persons who have worked to earn some form of worth that the African society in which they live presents as extrinsic to them: persons with albinism, black people, and black women. In this case, a consistent individual lifestyle of rising above expectations and group rights advocacy are essential. I conclude that the African conception of personhood is flawed in its failure to recognize the intrinsic worth and value of all human beings regardless of their ontological and normative status and because it also fails in appreciating the importance of difference in the unfolding of reality.


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Scott, Patricia Bell. Debunking Sapphire: Toward a Non-Racist and Non-Sexist Social Science
1977, The Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare, 4 (6)
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Added by: Tomasz Zyglewicz, Shannon Brick, Michael Greer
Abstract: The term "Sapphire" is frequently used to describe an age-old image of Black women. The caricature of the dominating, emasculating Black woman is one which historically has saturated both the popular and scholarly literature. The purpose of this paper is debunk the "Sapphire" caricature as it has been projected in American social science. By exposing the racist and sexist underpinnings of this stereotype, it is hoped that more students and scholars might be sensitized and encouraged to contribute to the development of a nonracist and non-sexist social science.

Comment (from this Blueprint): In this 1977 article, Patricia Bell Scott explains how social sciences had theretofore been racist, sexist, and classist in their research of Black women. She identifies concrete failings and biases in the approach of socials sciences towards Black women, and suggests concrete agendas for research institutions, moving forward.

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