The Souls of Black Folk
The whole land seems forlorn and forsaken. Here are the remnants of the vast plantations of the Sheldons, the Pellots, and the Rensons; but the souls of them are passed. The houses lie in half ruin, or have wholly disappeared; the fences have flown, and the fam...more
(Side note: I listened to the last half of the book on audio from Librivox, which is free and where e...more
This collection of short essays was written in 1903 and basically changed the way people thought and talked about race in America. DuBois broke down the notion of a scientific explanation for racism and racial bigotry. He essentially went to the University of Atlanta to do just the opposite, to accomplish by scientific means some understanding of race relations and what was called at the time "the Negro problem." After only a few years, he realized that you can't solve a social...more
I would recommend this book not only to those interested in issues of race, but also anyone interested in American culture and society as a whole. It is a telling book that s...more
In 1903, two years after Booker T. Washington's autobiography, "Up from Slavery: An Autobiography", W.E.B. Du Bois published "The Souls of Black Folk", a series of essays which today most consider a seminal work in African-American Sociology literature. Du Bois view of race relations in American at the dawn of the 20th century was clear, critical and deeply profound.
Throughout the fourteen chapters Du Bois uses a metaphor, the veil, with considerable deftness:
One of his central criticisms of Booker T. is his over-emphasis of the individual responsibility of the "Negroes" to lift themselves out of "degradation" at the expense of ignoring the necessity of societal and systemic change. DuBois takes a more integrated view of responsibility--both individual exertion to raise themselves from poverty and ignorance, and working toward change in general public opinion (t...more
There's lots of good (great? amazing?) here in different forms, the book a mix of sociology, argument, and beautifully crafted lyrical prose.
Writing-wise, for their lyrical strength and, indeed, beauty, as well as for the power they add to the information and arguments presented throughout, I felt the strongest chapters/essays were "Of the Passing of the First-Born" (painful in its mourning and in its joy, and yet achingly beautiful), "Of Alexander Crummell" (a man...more
Having said that, I do enjoy his metaphor of the veil that separates Black men from society and the constant striv...more
Du Bois chronicles the hopes and dreams destroyed; the attempts at education undermined; the physical and psychological degradation at the hands of the Jim Crow sy...more
"Between me and the other world there is ever an unasked question: masked by some through feelings of delicacy; by others through the difficulty of framing it. All, nevertheless,...more
Du Bois was an eloquent writer able to paint a clear picture of the times for the readers, yet I found in his writing an underlying tone of anger, resentment, and turmoil...more
A challenging read if you aren't taking a course on African-American history. I say challenging because a hundred years later, we can't easily see the subtext that a contemporary reader would have had. It can certainly be jarring to a 21st century progressive to read the passages which strike an understanding and forbearant stance toward the oppressors in the anteb...more
The following is a passage that turned into a paper for one of my classes: "I held him in my arms, after we had sped far away from our Southern home,--held him, and glanced at the hot red soil of Georgia and the breathle...more
If the convictions weren't reason enough to read this, there's also the peerles...more
My biggest take-away from his book is how dire the situation of former slaves was in the decades immediately after the Civil War. I knew a little of the history of Reconstruction and the Freedmen's Bureau and the like. But the details offered in Du Bois's book are...more
I was constantly amazed at the breadth of learning and brilliance as a story teller that DuBois. This is a brilliant man. His constant u...more
Chapter 4 got me on the bus one morning. Hooks that is. So did most of the others as well, but for some reason that one stands out. The limits of pot...more
Is the veil still there? If not, will the youth living on South Side agree to that?
Double consciousness with respect to other races...more contemporary ideas and crises of identity of second-generation immigrants.
Can this double consciousness be empowering?
Does education actually lead to more homogenous social classes, or does it just somehow feed into the already skewed system (corollary, what have we been doing wrong that there are still youth in the South Side who don't even drea...more