In " 'Afrocentrism' and the Tribalization of America" {Outlook, Sept. 23}, David Nicholson conceded that there is substantial legitimate (read "white") scholarship to support the premise that ancient Greek civilization had African and Asian roots. African-American scholars such as Dr. Josef A. A. ben-Jochannan, Dr. Ivan Van Sertima and Dr. Asa G. Hilliard III have been toiling this vineyard in obscurity for decades.

However, Nicholson's assertion that black parents' insistence on a revised model of African history is intended primarily to reduce teen pregnancy and school dropout rates was despicable, petty-minded and grossly patronizing. I know of no parent who believes that merely infusing the research and scholarship of Dr. Hilliard, et al., is a "cure-all for the dire ailments of urban school districts."

Rather, most parents (this one included) believe that an Afrocentrist view in urban American education is a necessary, though not sufficient, precondition for addressing those dire ailments. Nicholson's colossal error and omission was his failure to consider the effect and impact of an African content in American curricula upon the larger African-American community.

I have been a passionate supporter of Afrocentric scholarship for 20 years. I can't begin to tell you how much these revelations have meant to my own psyche and self-esteem while navigating my way through a practically lily-white club of American architects (now 107,000 total and 98 percent white, one percent black, and one percent other). I have in turn been sharing an Afrocentrist view with my own children -- neither ever in any danger of teen pregnancy or of dropping out of school -- and with the many students who have studied architecture under me at Howard University and the University of the District of Columbia.

Multiply that by the potential thousands of other African-American professionals and role models charged with leading and acting as mentors, and we begin to comprehend the enormity of what Nicholson has all but purposefully missed.

An Afrocentrist view of history is not about reforming and improving urban inner-city schools. Rather it is about the psychological freeing of the minds of 30 million Americans who have been systematically programmed to believe that there was (and remains) valid historical justification for the brutal Eurocentric exploitation of their bodies and near destruction of their collective sense of meaningful contribution to civilization.

-- Melvin L. Mitchell The writer is the coordinator of the bachelor of architecture program at UDC.

In a recent column {op-ed, Sept. 10}, William Raspberry decried "Afrocentricism" and my books on the subject "as the view of the self-consciously black and radical."

But he missed the reason for all the excitement about Afrocentricity, which lies in a simple proposition about education -- children learn with a greater sense of integrity if they view themselves as subjects instead of objects. Most American textbooks treat African-American children as if they were aliens.

What we teach is normally considered to be what is important, and most schools teach about Europe instead of Africa or Asia. Students assume that Europe is not only significant but that it is more significant than it ought to be in a multicultural society. The fact that African-American, Asian-American and Latino children learn in spite of this is no excuse for not examining the impact of a biased curriculum.

When one teaches about William of Normandy, or Goethe or Joan of Arc, one is transmitting information about a cultural heritage. The names of Africans such as Ibn Battuta, or King Sundiata of Mali, or Ahmed Baba or Yenenga are never mentioned in most classes, although they are by world standards certainly the equal of the Europeans I mentioned.

Our society is multicultural and multiethnic, and the idea of teaching as if the African American has no historical legacy is to teach incorrectly and inadequately. More than this, it reinforces the false notion of white superiority and black inferiority. Afrocentric education seeks to change this through a three-step program:

First, by writing documents that will fill in the gaps in the curricula.

Second, by cleansing the curricula of as many pejoratives and negative expressions, e.g., Hottentot, Bushmen, pygmy, warlike tribes, etc., as possible. African-American, Latino and Asian children have been growing up accepting such pejoratives. This is no longer acceptable.

Third, by infusing the Afrocentric method into every aspect of the curriculum. Thus, it is not merely the inclusion of facts or anecdotes about African Americans that defines the Afrocentric method, rather the Afrocentric method is a framework for education itself.

Afrocentric enterprise is not, as Raspberry indicated, just an exercise in developing children's self-esteem, though that will be a byproduct. The aim of a Camden, N.J., school project on Afrocentrism is to present accurate information.

Of course, none of these ideas will have a full impact on education until there are big changes in our schools of education. In some training institutions, it is still possible for a teacher who will eventually be in an urban classroom to complete a degree without ever having taken a course in African-American studies.

Finally, Afrocentricity does not negate Eurocentric views, it simply makes them one of several perspectives. And it gives us an education system that puts students at the center of what is being taught.

-- Molefi Kete Asante The writer is chairman of Temple University's Department of African American Studies.