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
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:
Du Bois [1868-1963]
Another book that should have been required reading for me in school.
I had had only the vaguest notion of who Du Bois was.
He sets out clearly the result of growing up oppressed, of experiencing systematic Humiliation and inequality:
"Before that nameless prejudice ... he stands helpless, dismayed, and well-nigh speechless; before that personal disrespect and mockery, the ridicule and systematic humiliation, the distortion of fact and wanton license of fancy...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
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
Having said that, I do enjoy his metaphor of the veil that separates Black men from society and the constant striv...more
I like how the books text and reading level was more complicated than others. I feel l...more
It turned out to be a bit of history with various essays of people's experiences. The writing is of the literary vein, and not a style I'm used to, so it took some time to get into it. I would have liked more organization of the stories and flow of the book. It seemed a little meandering, which made it tough to follow. (I d...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
April 16, 2010 update: This time through I listened to it on audiobook, and I have to say, it was an incredible experience. I highly recommend the (free!) audiobook from librivox.org, read by someone only identified as toriasuncle. The librivox audiobooks can be hit or miss since they're read by volunteers, but this is b...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
David Levering Lewis, a biographer, wrote, "In the course of his long, turbulent career, W. E. B. Du Bois attempted virtually every possible solution to the problem of twent...more