Blog #1: Du Bois

“In the Negro’s mind, color prejudice in Philadelphia is that widespread feeling of dislike for his blood, which keeps him and his children out of decent employment, from certain public conveniences and amusements, from hiring houses in many sections,and in general, from being recognized as a man.” As soon I as read this quote from Du Bois, I immediately thought of labeling theory which is the belief that individuals unconsciously notice how others perceive or label them and then over time those individuals react to those labels and form the basis of their self-identity. This labeling can lead an individual to commit to deviant acts if society places a certain negative expectation on that person he/she will assume the role that has been laid out for them. For example an inner-city African American youth who is typically well behaved and stays out of trouble may constantly be harassed by a convenience store clerk who assumes the youth is shop lifting when he in fact isn’t, may over time actually commit a deviant act simply out of revenge for the clerk perceiving him as an offender. Should this normally well mannered and law abiding youth ever get caught, the stereotype is reinforced and thus completing this vicious circle.

Du Bois’ ideology conflicts with the most prominent as well respected figure in the African American community, Booker T Washington. Whereas Du Bois was a strong support in civil rights and believed that blacks should go on the offensive in order to combat racism, Washington believed that the blacks should be compliant and submissive to white through hard work and that confrontation would lead to disaster for the outnumbered blacks. He felt that cooperation was key to gaining the respect of whites in order to overcome pervasive racism in the long run.


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