Posted at 10.26.2018
W. E. B. DuBois, is one of the biggest African American thinkers, oraters and writers of history. His works tend to be bold assassinations of the introduction of the Black, former slave class in america, through periods were they repeatedly faced bold and subtle racism but were simultaneously expected to achieve success, because laws were, "better than they used to be. " DuBois' work The Souls of Black Folk, though constituent of several divergent essays is to many the foundation and center of practically all his messages about the truth telling that should be done, in history to properly place the plight of Blacks in to the context and even to some extent the present. According to the editor of the W. E. B. DuBois reader, which republished the whole of The Souls of Black Folks in its pages the work's purpose is;"--to transcend the pain and liabilities of days gone by while remembering and restoring the energy of the BLACK heritage-" which theme, "runs through the entire Souls of Black Folk. No work before or since has met the task so well. " (Sundquist 99)
As was mentioned in the introduction The Souls of Black Folk, consists of several thematic essays regarding the position and reality of black life through its history in america. Each work discusses a theme of necessary report and honesty. According to DuBois himself, in his forethought to his collection he ". . sought here to sketch, in vague, uncertain outline, the spiritual world in which ten thousand thousand Americans live and strive. " (DuBois 100) The first two essays discuss the meaning of emancipating to blacks, and its aftermath. The third chapter handles the relatively slow progress of personal leadership, criticizing heavily the president of the Tuskegee Institute, for capitulating to the idea that trade skills rather than intellectual development is the necessary next step in the development of blacks. In two additional chapters he juxtaposes the world of blacks in and outside what he calls the "veil" i. e. the black world and black men in the white world, and dealing specifically with how such a color line as it exists could realistically train black men to live on productive lives. He then covers black poverty in two chapters and closes with a chapter on what he calls the, "present relations of the sons of master and man. (Dubois 100)
Black Spirituals as Thematic Introductions
It as been pointed out by many that Dubois' use of black spirituals to open the themes of his essays was masterful in a number of ways, in part because it sets the tone for how the theme to be discussed realistically played a part in the lives of blacks, therefore spirituals were usually the only form of mass communication available to black men and women during large periods of these history in the US. Additionally, he has been praised for their use because they can not be found anywhere else, as an oral tradition, forced by the illegality of course, if not then your unconventional allowance of literacy among blacks. The black spiritual loses is power as those who have used it to communicate joy and woe get started to die off, as with all other oral traditions, the death of folks often marks the death of tradition, if such tradition is not communicated effectively to another generation. This loss, is substantial and in some ways DuBois' purpose is to stress the deeper meanings of these spirituals by intellectual and political discussion, that he as an educated BLACK can do. Most importantly an educated BLACK man, who unlike Washington, was willing to be honest, rather than capitulate to the standards of white society, in his beliefs assertions and expectations of his brethren. A foundational example, and theme that pervades the work can be seen in the spiritual he uses to introduce the theme of chapter 2, Of the Dawn of Freedom. "Careless seems the fantastic Avenger;/History's lessons but record/One death-grapple in the darkness/'Twixt old systems and the term;/Truth forever on the scaffold, /Wrong forever on the throne;" (DuBois 107) The chapter stresses the extreme juxtaposition of legal emancipation, following his first chapter which discusses the fantastic hope that emancipation and freedom would be real, and having less real systems to permit for the development of black women and men that follow it. DuBois makes clear that the hope was met with continuous dashing, as the truth of the world of blacks was constantly stunted by traditions, fear and racially motivated systems that still barred blacks from success and the expression of free will.
There is no better chapter to discuss with regard to truth telling in DuBois' work that whatever adamantly attacks Booker T. Washington. Washington, in the eyes of many whites (and even some blacks) had the most logical and rational reaction to the development of blacks in society. These men and women would have to learn to do work, work that is demonstrative of these previous restricted options. Washington believed that the black race would be most successful if rather than fighting for the right to hold positions and vocations that had been previously reserved limited to the majority, they would seek to work with their hands and train to make those works more productive. To DuBois and other intellectuals this is an assault on blacks as it continued to stress that their skills were significantly less than those of whites and perpetuated the theory that a lot of blacks would not be able to hold real positions of vocational power, such as those achieved through traditional "white only" higher education. DuBois stresses that Washington's capitulation, offering one of the only advanced education options for blacks as a trade school, that didn't stress the need to develop intellectually was paramount to supporting white society, as blacks had always done. The Tuskegee institute did not train the first round of black attorneys, doctors, professors, entrepreneurs or anything like them it continued to teach blacks to provide services to whites, and then do it more scientifically and better. Not just that but Washington came to a position of influence precisely at time when it might have been possible to get started to provide blacks better options than trade training and yet he thought we would capitulate, and since the only real scale offering of any advanced education to blacks his school succeeded and his ideology of a, "programme of professional education, conciliation of the South, and submission and silence concerning civil and political rights, " was supported. (DuBois 122) DuBois, chose to challenge Washington, who was seen by many as you of if not "the" most significant black man of his time as a capitulator who thought we would teach complacency over change. This isn't DuBois telling a wrongful truth of the white race, it is him attacking a guy of his own race for buying and selling the black man limitations rather than real fruits of freedom. In Washington's own words there's a tell tale truth to Dubois' frustration, with him and others who would continue steadily to hold freed black women and men to standards that were not including their real skills to progress.
In the economy of God there may be but one standard by which a person might succeed--there is but one for a race. This country demands that every race shall measure itself by the American standard. Because of it a race must rise or fall, succeed or fail, and in the last analysis mere sentiment counts for little. During the next half century and much more, my race must continue passing through the severe American crucible. We are to be tested inside our patience, our forbearance, our perseverance, our power to endure wrong, to withstand temptations, to economize, to acquire and use skill; inside our ability to compete, to succeed in commerce, to disregard the superficial for the true, the appearance for the substance, to be great and yet small, learned and yet simple, high and yet the servant of all. This, this is the passport to all or any that is best in the life span of our republic, and the Negro must have it, or be debarred. (Denton 189)
According to Washington, Negroes in the us must face the reality of the American system, work within it and stop or refrain from seeking higher (unreal) answers to their options to achieve success. Washington believed that there would be a time when challenging these roles was an option, but right now blacks had a need to suck it up and master that which was offered them, trades. To DuBois, this is offensive, as it belittled blacks and gave them little if any hope for change, and any real fundamental application of the strides created from emancipation or the frustration of reconstruction. DuBois stresses that there are many who criticize Washington's capitulation, but that he chooses never to, since there is danger in silence; "However the hushing of the criticism of honest opponents is a dangerous thing. It leads among the better of the critics to unfortunate silence and paralysis of effort, yet others to burst into speech so passionately and intemperately concerning lose listeners. " (DuBois 124) DuBois, stresses that he and other opponents of Washington's policies and ideologies wish to start to see the silence end and the cry for and allowance of three essential things, for Blacks, in the us "1. The right to vote. 2. Civic equality. And 3. The training of youth according to ability. " (DuBois 128)
DuBois work The Souls of Black Folk is a fundamental document that needs to be read and understood by all who've any involvement in black history and the way in which this history is portrayed. DuBois, unlike many mainline thinkers is demonstrative of a solid, educated black man worth praise and capable of intellectual musings regarding a whole group of folks who have been fundamentally silenced for the majority of their history in this nation. The use of the spiritual aspect as the thematic source of the work is also an important strength, as even though a lot of DuBois' words are wholly secular in nature the ideologies that he attests to must have a firm devote the spiritual character of hope, expect change and hope for voice.