11 Nov 2009 [ Prev | Next ]

Du Bois, ''The Souls of Black Folk'' (selections) (1903)

Wikipedia's page on W.E.B. Du Bois
When sticks and stones and beasts form the sole environment of a people, their attitude is largely one of determined opposition to and conquest of natural forces. But when to earth and brute is added an environment of men and ideas, then the attitude of the imprisoned group may take three main forms,--a feeling of revolt and revenge; an attempt to adjust all thought and action to the will of the greater group; or, finally, a determined effort at self-realization and self-development despite environing opinion.
Of Mr. Booker T. Washington and Others
To make here in human education that ever necessary combination of the permanent and the contingent--of the ideal and the practical in workable equilibrium--has been there, as it ever must be in every age and place, a matter of infinite experiment and frequent mistakes.
Of the Training of Black Men
The literary essay shares some of the qualities of narrative prose, and some of the qualities of oral speech. Among the features worth noting: grand figures of speech, extended metaphors, parallel structure, echoes, repetition, and contrast. Du Bois is known, among other things, for his articulation of "Double Consciousness" -- the internalized otherness that African Americans always feel when they look at themselves.
After the Egyptian and Indian, the Greek and Roman, the Teuton and Mongolian, the Negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight in this American world,--a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world. It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others, of measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his twoness,--an American, a Negro; two warring souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder. The history of the American Negro is the history of this strife,--this longing to attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self. ("Of Our Spiritual Strivings," in The Souls of Black Folk.)
While Washington's advocacy of industrial education, giving practical jobs that the majority could use on a daily basis, Du Bois argued that the way to a better future was to identify the "talented tenth" -- that is, the top tier in terms of intellectual capacity and performance, in order to improve the quality of leadership that would carry the other nine-tenths. In the article I linked above, Du Bois notes that Washington relies heavily on the services of college-educated men and women, despite the fact that his emphasis on meeting the needs of the 90% leads to decreased public awareness of (or interest in) the education of the 10%.



This is really just me being confused by the assigned reading...

Katie Lantz said:

"It startled and won the applause of the South, it interested and won the admiration of the North; and after a confused murmur of protest, it silenced if it did not convert the Negroes themselves" (Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk, chapter 3, para 2)


Jeremy Barrick said:

"Hence arises a new human unity, pulling the ends of earth nearer, and all men, black, yellow, and white." (Du Bois)


Meagan Gemperlein said:

"there must come a loftier respect for the sovereign human soul that seeks to know itself and the world about it; that seeks a freedom for expansion and self-development" (DuBois, Of the Training of Black Men, para. 28)


Jennifer Prex said:

"The South ought to be led, by candid and honest criticism, to assert her better self and do her full duty to the race she has cruelly wronged and is still wronging. The North--her co-partner in guilt--cannot salve her conscience by plastering it with gold. We cannot settle this problem by diplomacy and suaveness, by 'policy' alone."
~paragraph 26 of chapter 3: Of Mr. Booker T. Washington and Others


A Look Into Education

Kayla Lesko said:

" In his failure to realize and impress this last point, Mr. Washington is especially to be criticised. His doctrine has tended to make the whites, North and South, shift the burden of the Negro problem to the Negro's shoulders and stand aside as critical and rather pessimistic spectators; when in fact the burden belongs to the nation, and the hands of none of us are clean if we bend not our energies to righting these great wrongs" (para. 25).


Jamie Grace said:

"Such higher training-schools tended naturally to deepen broader development: at first they were common and grammar schools, then some became high school. And finally, by 1900 some thirty-four had one year or more of studies of college grade" (para. 15)


Jered Johnston said:

In answer to this, it has been claimed that the Negro can survive only through submission. Mr. Washington distinctly asks that black people give up, at least for the present, three things,-- First, political power, second, insistence on civil rights, third, higher education of Negro youth,-- (DuBois)


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