Du Bois’s Concepts of the Color Line, the Veil, and Double Consciousness

Tags: The Souls of Black Folk, Double consciousness, Color line (civil rights issue)

  “The problem of the 20th century is the problem of the color line-the relation of the darker to the lighter races of men in Asia and Africa, in America and the islands of the sea”. As I read through the passages in our text, the most interesting topic that caught my eye right away was about W.E.B. Du Bois.  He was one of the social theorists that has remarked on the universal racial order. As mentioned in the above passage, Du Bois did not only talk about racism in the United States, but world-wide.

  Ironically, Du Bois himself experienced the existence of the color line. He not only recognized the color line, but the ways in which it was distinct from class- based inequality. Since he was the first African American to receive a Ph. D from Harvard, he was ignored by his peers, even by American sociologists. What was really interesting to me was Du Bois’s experience in Europe. He was a free man in Europe, because he met white people who exhibited little or no racial prejudice. Until he was forced to return to the United States, or as he called it the “nigger’-hating America”. However the hatefulness and bitterness of the others did not stop him from achieving. He introduced the society the most famous book of essays, “The Souls of Black Folk”. This book was collected during a critical time in United States, when racism was one of the biggest concerns.  He believed that “the problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line (pg 347). Du Bois introduced us to the concept of life, or in other words “the veil”, which eventually led to “double consciousness”, which he explained as seeing yourself through others’ eyes.

   Du Bois concept of the “color line” is very fascinating to me, because it talks about the collective/rational, collective/nonrational, and individual/nonrational realms, in other words he includes every individual in society. As mentioned on page 337, the color line is both preexisting social and cultural structure. According...
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