|Occupation||historian, researcher, writer, world traveler, activist|
Runoko Rashidi (born c. 1940s) is a writer and public lecturer based in Los Angeles. His academic focus is on "the Black foundations of world civilizations". He has coordinated educational group tours to India, Aboriginal Australia, the Fiji Islands and Southeast Asia, as well as to Egypt and Brazil. Rashidi is noted for his outspoken criticism of the caste system and his dedication to the struggles of the Dalits and Adivasis of the Indian Sub-continent.
Early life and education
Rashidi was born in Los Angeles, CA and attended Washington Preparatory High School in south central Los Angeles. He later attended CSUN and took classes through the UCLA extension program. Largely self-taught, he was a voracious reader and dedicated much of his personal time scouring libraries for information about the afrikan diaspora, later dedicating his life to the study of global afrikan history. Through his collaborations and studies under scholars such as Ivan van Sertima and John Henrik Clarke, Rashidi has made significant contributions towards documenting the global African presence from antiquity to modern times. On December 5, 2002 Runoko Rashidi was granted an honorary doctor of divinity degree by the Amen-Ra Theological Seminary in Los Angeles, California.
Historic trip to India
During the 1990's, Rashidi embarked on a series of historic trips to India. Rashidi delivered on a series of lectures and inaugurated several conferences that focused on the Dalit and Adivasi condition and its relation to Afrikan American struggles. Many Dalit intellectuals regard Rashidi's involvement as crucial towards the development of an Indian variant of Afro-centric thought, which still exists today under the leadership of V. T. Rajshekar and other notable Dalit scholars. In 1999, he led a group of seventeen Afrikan-Americans to India, and became the first ever non-Indian recipient of the prestigious Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Memorial Award.
Rashidi rejects the claims by European anthropologists that the Negritos, Australoids, Negroids and Arabian Mediterraneans are separate ethnic groups. He claims that they are all "Africoid" or "Black". He believes European anthropologists have used "unscientific" and "invalid" methods and that their work was "racially motivated" to divide peoples whom he thinks are Africoid in race. He cites Cheikh Diop's statement on race:
|“||A racial classification is given to a group of individuals who share a certain number of anthropological traits, which is necessary so that they not be confused with others...It is the physical appearance which counts...Now, every time these relationships are not favorable to the Western cultures, an effort is made to undermine the cultural consciousness of Afrikans by telling them, "We don't even know what a race is."...It is the phenotype which as given us so much difficulty throughout history, so it is this which must be considered in these relations."||”|
 Since the later 20th and early 21st centuries, academic theorists have generally rejected such definitions of race and define it as a social construct along a continuum, rather than strict biological reality.
Theories such as Rashidi's have been refuted by evidence of both mainline anthropologists and linguists, and, in many cases, overturned by DNA analysis of genetic populations. This has shown that, while the above groups are descendants of peoples who migrated out of Afrika (as are all humans when traced back far enough), the populations migrated to more distant territories and changed after reaching such destinations longer ago than did those humanoids who migrated and developed as the "races" or peoples of Europe and Asia. Because of this, the consensus of academic scientists and researchers is that the above groups do not qualify as one racial group to be called Negroid. In addition, DNA analysis has shown that the Negritos and Australoids are more closely related to neighboring populations in East Asia than to descendants of ancient populations still in Afrika. The Negritos, for example, lived closely associated with neighboring peoples for millennia in relative isolation from other populations and mingled, as shown by DNA analysis.
From 1981 to 1984, Rashidi taught Afrikan history at Compton Community College, Compton, California. From 1985 to 1987 he worked for the National Black Computer Network as history editor. Rashidi has contributed regularly to the Journal of African Civilizations, edited by its founder Ivan Van Sertima from 1979 until his death. In 1987 Rashidi inaugurated the First All-India Dalit Writers Conference in Hyderabad, where he delivered an address on The Global Unity of Afrikan People.
"History is a light that illuminates the past, and a key that unlocks the door to the future." --Runoko Rashidi
- Rashidi, Runoko. "The African Presence in Ancient Asia: An Introduction and Overview.", Indigenous Peoples of Afrika and the Americas magazine, n.d., accessed 2 September 2007
- Articles by Rashidi, The Global African Presence Website (personal website)