The Souls Of Black Folk Essay

The Souls Of Black Folk Essay

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The Souls of Black Folk are a collection of essays composed by W.E.B Du Bois’ highlighting the problems that the African-American race faced in American society. Du Bois describes the feeling of being “shut out from the[ir] world by a vast veil” (4). The veil is a metaphor that Du Bois presents representing a symbolic wall that separates the “whites” and “blacks”. To Du Bois, the veil emphasises the racial boundaries that the African-Americans faced, as well as their invisibility within society in U.S history. Throughout the text, Du Bois makes it evident that the most important issues are education, economic opportunities, as well as the emotional journey being shared. Du Bois states, “He simply wishes to make it possible for a man to be both a Negro and an American, without being cursed and spit upon by his fellows, without having the doors of Opportunity closed roughly in his face” (5). Here, Du Bois distinguishes that there should not be a difference between being a Negro and being an American, stating that the two identities should be one. Opportunities should not restrict individuals based on race, but based on competence.
Du Bois’ first chapter Of Our Spiritual Strivings shows the first encounter with racism during his early childhood education. Written in first person, we are able to truly grasp the personal vulnerability within his story. Du Bois shares:
I was a little thing, away up in the hills of New England, where the dark Housatonic winds between Hoosac and Taghkanic to the sea. In a wee wooden schoolhouse, something put it into the boys’ and girls’ heads to buy gorgeous visiting-cards—ten cents a package—and exchange. The exchange was merry, till one girl, a tall newcomer, refused my card,—refused ...


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...Americans, born with the veil, are “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” (5). As a result of the veil, the African-Americans are subjected to the “second-sight”. The “second-sight” suggests the idea of White supremacy, where the White-Americans see the world and experience the world before the African-Americans do. This poses the notion that perhaps the White-Americans are more deserving of experience and opportunity. Du Bois states that the self-conscious can be rebuilt when the idea of being both American and African-American are merged into one person, dismissing the “double-consciousness” (5), where their self-worth is measured by the White-American’s metaphorical standard. Through this, they gain their “truer self” (Du Bois 5).

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