Asante began studying African culture and history after meeting Essien Essien, a Nigerian, while he was attending Southwestern Christian College in Terrell, Texas. He later graduated from Oklahoma Christian College, then earning a master's degree from Pepperdine University and a PhD in communication studies from UCLA in 1968. He taught at Purdue and UCLA before joining the faculty of SUNY Buffalo in 1973, where he headed the Department of Communications and became a full professor in 1976. In 1984 he moved to Temple University where he still teaches, starting the first doctoral program in African American studies in 1986.
Asante is considered one of the most influential voices in the field of African American studies. He is a leading proponent of Afrocentricity, which seeks to move studies in all disciplines away from the traditional European-based viewpoint. He explains it this way:
One of the key assumptions of the Afrocentrist is that all relationships are based on centers and margins and the distances from either the center or the margin. When black people view themselves as centered and central in their own history then they see themselves as agents, actors, and participants rather than as marginals on the periphery of political or economic experience. Using this paradigm, human beings have discovered that all phenomena are expressed in the fundamental categories of space and time. Furthermore, it is then understood that relationships develop and knowledge increases to the extent we are able to appreciate the issues of space and time. (Afrocentricity, 2009)Asante has written prolifically, publishing 70 books and over 400 article and essays, most notably in the field of intercultural comunication.
Humans are responsible for all conventions by which we live regardless of our societies. If I do not want for you what I want for myself then I am reducing you to something other than human. In effect, to be human, as I am human or think I am, I have certain expectations but if I am able to separate you from me and to define you as outside of those expectations, then I have reduced you, thrown you into a pile of trash, or to the human wayside. This is the core meaning of all forms of human discrimination. The racist says, “You are not me and you do not deserve the rights or expectations that I have.” All societies have dank corners of these antiqúe beliefs in their closets because all societies have individuals who believe they are better than others. Chattel slavery in the past was the epitome of the idea of otherness, the enslaved were those who were really not considered human at all, but property, to be owned, managed, and disposed of at will. (The Ordeal of Citizenship in the Digital Era, 2011)