Dubois and the Color Line

Topics: Black people, Race, White people Pages: 3 (900 words) Published: April 6, 2013
3.) According to DuBois, “the problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line.” Using several representative examples, consider how American writers (of any color) since the Civil War have addressed this problem.

DuBois's quote, "The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line," tells a great deal of how Americans in general felt towards segregation -- each side had suspicions about the goings-ons of the other race. Blacks had a stronger sense of such hesitency because of their history with Whites, and Whites were generally afraid of anything different than themselves, thus the enslavement. Hughes, as a writer, dealt with this problem in a way that few had done, and fewer had done successfully -- with pride.

Hughes' piece "The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain" emphasizes the black artist and his creative force. Hughes' believes that black artists should stop imitating white artists, as they will never create anything original, and therefore great, in such a fashion. Instead, the black artist should have pride in himself and his/her heritage, and that pride and history should be the driving force of their creative spirits. "I want to be a poet -- not a Negro poet," was once said to Hughes by a black poet. Hughes saw that as something profoundly disheartening, as he interpreted it as "I want to be a white poet". The racial boundary was (and can still be) difficult to breach. There should be no significance to race whatsoever in one's profession (in this case, a poet). Granted the young poet who said that was saying that he didn't want race to be a factor for him to be looked down upon, Hughes saw the statement as something much more depressing, as no poet has ever been great by being afraid of being him/herself. Hughes' belief lies in the idea that black art can be great in it's own right, and that simply imitating white art solely to be accepted by the white establishment is not enough for any artist.

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