The Evolution and Expressions of Racism
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I think like about the idea of two ideas (pushing back racial inequality from Du Bois, and enrich themselves and gradually shifting the tide from Washington) merge together to be a better idea. I agree with Du Bois, racial inequality has to be pushed back and fought against, but I don’t think that is the 100% correct solution. I also agree with Washington, educate themselves can make then powerful and prove themselves that they are not worse than white people, but that still doesn’t solve the problem completely. If they put their ideas together (educating themselves while pushing back racial inequality), they might actually achieve more than they did. In the end, I think the difference between their ideas came from their life experiences, and I think Du Bois will understand more about why Washington made/ did not make certain moves once he acknowledges Washington’s past experiences, and be less angry about it.
Reading this made me think of my comment on the previous post. I basically was speaking on the dissonance between Washington’s idealistic perspective on education and the teachings lead by “academics” which were dehumanizing black people and creating the concept of whiteness. I agree with your post, and I think it related perfectly to the dissonance I mentioned. It is important to educate oneself but to also remain aware that “facts” are not always so. In Du Boise fashion he would say that such teachings I referred to would need to be exposed as bias and untrue constructs to protect the fears of an already protected class. Though Washington would assure that just because some truths can be twisted, that does not mean we give up on education.
Education should be pure and unbiased, but I have never experienced that. We must take what we are given, but then have the initiative to seek the rest of the information in order to actually learn truth.
I think the concept of what Du Bois calls the “veil” which is between black people and their ability to reach new opportunities is interesting. I think there to be two parts to the veil- one which is psychological and one which is socially apparent. The psychological veil is resemblant of the black man’s “double consciousness” in which he is forced to view himself through the eyes of white people and thus possess internalized feelings of doubt and shame. The socially apparent veil is the inequality in society which black people have to face on a regular basis such as, being allowed to eat only after white people or being barred from entering certain places. I think the veil also maintains the “hidden” aspect of black people in America which ties back to yesterday’s lecture concerning visibility. If black people were able to get past this veil then they would be fully seen by society and thus, not easily killed and also, treated as true equals to white people. I do wonder if the veil’s existence is perpetual, in that is it acknowledged by the black community the same? Understandably, such feelings are based on outside occurrences also which would suggest that the veil is felt at different times for different people. In addition, is the veil one-sided? At the time, could we say that on some conscious level, white people were cognizant of the separation and though they could not feel it due to lack of experience, they knew of the veil and were not fast to change those circumstances. That concept can closely mirror today’s day and age as people are still silent concerning the BLM movement and often find the excuse of “what can I do that will change anything”. Perhaps, the BLM movement in itself is an attempt to take down a veil that never truly got lifted for black people. Just some food for thought….
– Simran Sharda
Thank you for your perceptive comment! lots of interesting point.
I do believe that the veil is one-sided. usually in hierarchies of power, those who are kept marginalized see the center very well, whereas the powerful usually fail to see the disempowered. It’s true of men-women, Blacks-Whites, West-East, etc.
The part where you mentioned about the emancipation proclamation and how it could be taken away really stuck with me. I can’t imagine how fearful people of color had to have been despite being set free finally, and instead of embracing their newly found freedom having to live in fear of it being taken away again. It just showcases how things still remained the same despite the emancipation proclamation taking into effect.
Thank you! Yes it adds a lot to our perspective, this is the type of fear we rarely take into account when we look back on that period.
Washington really elevated himself within the white community as he was friends/had relationships with many powerful whites at the time like the Rockefellers and Carnegies. But while Du Bois admires him, he also says that he did a huge diservice to the black community by telling them to accept inferiority. Du Bois instead encourages African Americans to prove that they are better than whites. I feel that this contrast in approaches is largely because of the different circumstances Washington and Du Bois were born into. Du Bois was born before the Civil War and as such, was born into slavery while Du Bois was born after the Union victory. As Washington knew a time in which blacks were slaves, in his rhetoric it seems more that he was accepting because for him, no longer being slaves was progress. This wasn’t enough for Du Bois who was born in a time of heavy discrimination towards blacks but not having experienced the worse life of slavery.
Thank you! nice summary.
I liked the fact when Du Bois argues that without political rights, equality under the law, and the ability to develop its most exceptional minds, people cannot truly be expected to make effective economic progress. He argues further that acquiring wealth and property is meaningless if one doesn’t have the ability to defend one’s rights with respect to that property. He also points out that it is fine to insist on developing one’s character and self-respect, but neither of these is possible if one is simultaneously taught emasculating submission and the acceptance of civic inferiority.
Thank you! Yes these are all undeniably true, and even obvious from our perspective. but going back to early 20th century this was considered too elitist by many, since Black people still didn’t have the very basic requirements of living in the American society.
Thank you as well for acknowledging how much we would have benefitted from discussing the beef between DuBois and Washington, or rather the one-sided version of it.
Your question of “who is right?” is so relevant to today, but in terms of Booker T. Washington and W.E. DuBois, even though I respond more in terms of tone and empathy to Washington, as a subjective, they are both right, in terms of their world view, in terms of what informs their world view (in particular as you said in the last lecture with regard to DuBois, his christianity and his take on enlightenment), so disparate their experiences are, even as Black men, that their lens sees life in different parameters. As you pointed out, Mr. Washington is scarred by his childhood bathed in poverty, so for him, to be aspirational, to understand what money could do for himself, for his people, the reign of freedom could afford him, allows him to have a sense of forgiveness for the “marsters” of past. Whereas DuBois, grown, from ages 6-16, in public schools, not relegated to the schism of segregation, going to, as I say in my memo, the bastion of whiteness, Harvard, his lens is informed not with a fear of poverty, but with potential, of what is possible for the Black man, and what holds that back, this double consciousness, racism, and of course, the whiteness, the white man that crosses the street, the white man that subjugates, the white man that marginalizes.
Thank you! your summary goes down to the core of what distinguishes their worldviews, emanated from their lived experiences.
Great point – Washington being scared of slavery returning. It is not an angle I considered. Du Bois recalling the militant revolutionaries of before must have saw Washington as appeasing to white people, the very same people who had his people enslaved. I think this Du Bois desired more physicality in that regard; who wouldn’t? All while Washington, an actual former slave has seen many of these same revolutionaries either come and go, or examples made of those who dared try and become that.
Might I add – this struggle of a leading voice in the black community and the very idea of a “black community” seen over and over again in both the media and social media.
absolutely. I haven’t thought much about it, but I wonder how productive it is to spend time searching for “leading voice”.
Thanks for clarifying what you mean by hypocritical. and yes, since we often consume a simplified version of history there are so many crucial things we never take into account. the fear of the return of slavery must have been so central in Washington’s mind, having lived through it as a child, whereas DuBois only visited a semblance of it as an adult. that explains a lot re their difference of opinions.
As I was reflecting on the different type of leadership styles between WEB Du Bois and Booker T. Washington, I believe that we cannot blame the latter for his views on dealing with the racial issues of the times. As we learned WEB Du Bois was an educated man who earned a master’s degree from Harvard, he grew up in Massachusetts as a free man in a less discriminatory environment and had the opportunity to spend some time in Europe during his scholar years. Therefore, for Du Bois who as a more a liberal view, it is easier to express a stronger opposition to the southerner’s rule and fight for a freedom that was also a constitutional right. We can sort of compare the two authors on the Maslow Hierarchy’s of Need, where Du Bois is few steps ahead than Booker T., who is probably at the bottom of the hierarchy. Hence, I believe that for him the “freedom” achieved after the Civil War was a progressive step ahead. Looking at the Reconstruction period from a sociological perspective, Washington was born on plantation in dire conditions, often a victim of abuse and oppression, and unaware of what freedom really meant, looking from his perspective I would probably aim for his same objectives. Of course, right now it is easier to stand by Du Bois view, but if I was living in the same experience as Washington in the South at that time, I would be very cautious in pushing the envelope too much.
To be honest, I struggle with the question of who has the better way, Washington or Du Bois. Washington chose a more moderate approach to the struggle. One might say that Washington’s attempt to reconcile with the white man was a compromise, but one has to admit that Washington’s idea of empowering the black man through education was very valid and it was. I also agree with Du Bois’ insistence on the need to seek complete emancipation and complete freedom of the black people, but if the attitude is only radical, it may not achieve their goals or even cause unnecessary harm. I can only say that both Washington and Du Bois made important contributions to the black movement if it is results-oriented.
I think it’s important to have both (and all) points of view to keep the conversation pushing forward. We see a lot of these differing attributes of leaders with the same goal for example, Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King. Du Bois and Washington would become political opponents but the goal is the same. Flash forward today. We have the Black Lives Matter Movement and on social media, people are picking sides between J.Cole and Noname and how people should be growing in their “wokeness.”
To Washington, there were steps in the progress of black people. To Du Bois, who grew up with the dual consciousness of self regard and how others saw him, the steps were false hopes that true equality would be gained by being patient.
As I mentioned in my comment for The Souls of Black Folk, veil or double consciousness was a very interesting topic. This makes Africa Americans hard to build up a feeling of self. This idea dependent on the foundation of the American culture that the blacks is put in a predicament in American culture. Also, Du Bois thought that African Americans lived in a world that was abusive, oppressive and depreciated them as equals.
This speaks to that the individual of color at the social low-end and they can’t possess their reasoning. Blacks, also an American, feels his twoness all the time through various musings, souls etc. Double consciousness rose up out of the mental clash state because of two unique societies and world perspectives between and dark and the white.
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