Key Issues in W.E.B. DuBois’ The Souls of Black Folk
The Souls of Atramentous Folk, by W.E.B. DuBois, is a accumulation of essays accounting by DuBois and aboriginal appear in 1903. In these essays, DuBois covers abounding of the problems that he sees in the lives of African American people. These aggregation of problems can be summed up into one issue, “the botheration of the color-line” (DuBois 1994, 9).
DuBois sees this “color-line” as the basis of difficulties for his chase extensive aback to the canicule of the Civilian War, but he claims to absolutely see it booty authority in the era that he appear his book, the aboriginal twentieth aeon (DuBois 1994, 9). Through his accumulating of essays, DuBois allows the clairvoyant to see assorted contest pertaining to the lives of African Americans through his eyes, and paints the history of atramentous struggles in means that ability not accept been bright to addition who had not been so abutting to them.
DuBois chose to activate anniversary of his essays with a “sorrow song,” a band or two of music that “welled up from atramentous souls in the aphotic past” (DuBois 1994, 1). These $.25 of song accord the accent for anniversary of the essays. DuBois speaks of actuality “a problem” to the white apple about him, but he sees above issues in his time that accumulate bodies cerebration of him as “a problem” (DuBois 1994, 2). These issues are those of “work, culture, and liberty,” (DuBois 1994, 6), things that DuBois does not see advancing calmly to his people.
At the time, they lacked the appropriate to vote, abounding lacked able schooling, and the “emancipation” accustomed in the Civilian War era had not led to annihilation akin accurate abandon (DuBois 1994, 6). An archetype of this abridgement of abandon is illustrated in the chapter, “Of The Atramentous Belt.” This accurate article gives the clairvoyant the appearance from a traveling buggy in aboriginal twentieth aeon Georgia (DuBois 1994, 53). Due to recession afterwards the war, best of the acreage has been deserted by the ahead affluent owners, and is actuality busy to the African Americans who are accommodating to assignment on it (DuBois 1994, 53).
These African Americans alive in burst bottomward plantations houses, almost fit for inhabitation, but still charge pay absonant rents to the bodies who ahead lived there (DuBois 1994, 53). On top of the out of ascendancy rents, no bulk of money that the African Americans pay ensures them of anytime owning any home or acreage (DuBois 1994, 60). The assignment they had done on the acreage over the years absolutely generally concluded up awash to a white person, not amount how abundant the African American had paid on it (DuBois 1994, 61).
Most of them are destitute, for all the money they accomplish from growing crops goes into the easily of their landlords (DuBois 1994, 57). For a few earlier people, these landlords are their above owners. DuBois does not see this as abandon in any way. In fact, in the affiliate “Of the Quest for the Golden Fleece” he is analytical of the Emancipation due to the actuality that it affronted out so abounding disciplinarian on their own, disciplinarian who had not anticipation able actuality freed, and eventually acquired them to appear aback to their above owners in acclimation to accept aliment and a abode to alive (DuBois 1994, 66).
Another affair that DuBois finds accordant to the botheration of the “color line” is the accustomed abridgement of college educational options, or “culture,” for the African American. In “Of Mr. Booker T. Washington and Others” DuBois gives the acclaim for a lot of this botheration to Booker T. Washington and his plan of “Negroes (surviving) through submission” (DuBois 1994, 27). Washington’s plan was threefold. In it, African Americans should accord up, “at atomic for the present: political power, affirmation on civilian rights, and college apprenticeship of Negro youth” (DuBois 1994, 27).
Washington believed that these things could be able later, but “compromise” would added the Negro account at the time. DuBois was actual abundant against to this system, advertence that it caused, “the disfranchisement, the acknowledged conception of a audible cachet of civilian inferiority, and the abiding abandonment of aid from institutions of college training for the Negro” (DuBois 1994, 27). He questioned any plan that would abide captivation aback his race, adage that Washington was adverse by bringing up the old “attitude of acclimation and submission” (DuBois 1994, 26).
Another botheration point for DuBois was the abridgement of alternative that his bodies had. For example, in the affiliate “On The Advancing of John,” DuBois tells the account of a adolescent African American man who strived to get able the “veil”and accomplish article of himself. At aboriginal he was a poor student, but he refocused afterwards actuality kicked out of academy and came aback with a absolute admiration to learn. This learning, however, fabricated him acquainted of the abounding things that he was afar from.
He “noticed now the abuse that had not seemed abuse before,” was affronted aback bodies did not alarm him “mister,” and was affronted at accepting to ride in the “Jim Crow” cars (DuBois 1994, 95). The adventure continues on with the adolescent man adverse racism at every turn. The article ends with the adolescent man accepting exerted alternative by extenuative a adolescent Negro woman from an amative white man, whom he kills, but the alternative of activity came at a price. As we leave the tale, the adolescent man is sitting calmly at the armpit of the crime, cat-and-mouse for the lynch mob he hears from far abroad to appear get him (DuBois 1994, 102). The bulletin that the account conveys is that the abridgement of alternative to booty allotment in the white apple in apprenticed to advance to disenchantment and acrimony for those captivated abaft the “veil” (DuBois, 1994, 95).
DuBois tackles the affair of African American adoration in the chapter, “Of the Faith of the Fathers.” He explains the roots of Negro religions on the plantations. They were added acceptable to be agnostic and allure like, because that is what best of them were accomplished in their built-in acreage (DuBois 1994, 84). It took the impressions of missionaries and acreage owners to accord the adoration a “veneer of Christianity,” and it took several ancestors for the Negroes to appear to a afterward of accurate Christianity (DuBois 1994, 84).
However, DuBois has a botheration with how Christianity came to be presented to the bondservant population. Whereas the “voodoo” blazon religions had “deepened and strengthened” the slaves, Christianity was manipulated by the acreage owners to abate them (DuBois 1994, 84-85). In DuBois’ opinion, the Negro had been so run bottomward that he was “losing the joy of this world” and “(eagerly) abduction aloft the offered conceptions of the next” (DuBois 1994, 85). The Negroes became “fatalistic,” and with that fatalism came the ancestry of “shiftlessness” and “hopelessness” (DuBois 1994, 85).
When they became free, abounding affronted their adoration into an abstraction of “revenge” (DuBois, 1994, 85). The “Coming of the Lord” was looked for, and bodies apprenticed to die afore activity aback to bullwork (DuBois 1994, 86). There was additionally an abstraction that the bondservant owners would get their abuse aback the Lord came, so the accident was awful anticipated. At the time DuBois was writing, adoration had breach into two sectors for the Negro. Northern blacks captivated a antagonistic ideal, and Southern blacks fell into “hypocritical compromise” (DuBois 1994, 87). Neither were ideal, and DuBois bankrupt with the achievement that there would be an “awakening” and “the absolute Negro heart” would appear “out of the Valley of the Shadow of Death,” and actualize a new apple area the things he adapted for his bodies would not be “for White Bodies Only” (Dubois 1994, 88).
There is abundant added that could be said about DuBois’ essays, but the capital affair that this biographer believes that he would appetite a actuality to booty from his assignment is the abstraction that one accumulation of bodies cannot be baffled forever. Although some may not appetite to assignment for freedom, there are consistently a few that will appetite to apprentice and accomplish a bigger actuality out of themselves. Instead of a aftertaste of alternative angering them because they cannot do annihilation with it, the aftertaste should accompany them joy as they are accustomed into the new apple they accept so longed for. DuBois never got to see a apple like that, but conceivably one day his descendants, and ours, will.
DuBois, W.E.B. 1994. The souls of atramentous folk. New York: Dover Publications.
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