Blog #10: W.E.B. Du Bois and the Negro Experience

W.E.B. Dubois in many of his works such as “The Philadelphia Negro”, and “Soul for Black Folks” presents the notion that the color-line has exacerbated many of the problems associated with race and segregation. In order to eliminate the color-line, blacks and whites must work together in order to end this racial battle.  W.E.B. Du Bios promoted education for African Americans, he believed that blacks must become educated in order to produce intellectual blacks that will be leaders of the African American community. Through education blacks will be able to dispel racial stereotypes, and will steadily improve the standard of living for blacks in society.

Du Bois was influenced by black political activists such as Booker T. Washington, but heavily opposed the notion of adjustment and submission. Washington believed that blacks should be concerned with the accumulation of wealth, and that by through submission, blacks will assimilate to society smoothly. Du Bois however wanted something better for blacks, he believed that the African American can work hard gradually towards becoming equal in society.

The notion of “Double Consciousness” is often mentioned in his works, especially in “Soul For Black Folks”. Double consciousness according to Du Bois was the dual perspectives that African Americans has in society in regards to the way the were perceived. African Americans were able to look at society through their own perspective and see how unjust they have been treated. Nonetheless, they were also able to see how others, such as whites, viewed them in society.  Basically the ability to see one’s self, and to see how others perceive them. Du Bois believed that this was both a gift and a curse as they would be able to identify the paradox’s in our society.

One large paradox is that of American Ideals vs. The American system in reality. Our democratic principles promote freedom and equality for all, with the ability for an individual to pursue their happiness. However in reality African Americans could not live and exercise their rights the same way that whites could. Jim Crow laws, segregation, bias, and stereotypes were some of the few things that blacks had to combat in everyday life. It is quite disturbing for me to see that a country that promoted democracy and a high standard of living throughout the twentieth century, had such a color-line problem through those same years. I’m just glad that I never had to endure that, and that individuals such as W.E.B. Du Bois paved the way for equality which is seen at a higher level today.

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One response to “Blog #10: W.E.B. Du Bois and the Negro Experience

  1. Nice overview of Du Bois’ work. The “debate” on education between the Du Bois and Washington camps continues to be relevant — in discussions of “tracking,” the replacement of much of the liberal arts curriculum in K-12 public schools with “high stakes testing” and its “de-funding” at the university level. It seems that increasingly, critical thinking and the humanities are seen as suitable only for students from the most privileged families, whereas students with less means are urged to be “pragmatic” and strategic and to focus their education on “practical skills.”

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