What does Du Bois hope to accomplish? What is the double consciousness? The veil? Lifting the veil?
In his book The Souls of Black Folk, Du Bois objective is to evince the readers the striving in the souls of black people. Through discordant descriptions of black ordeals and experiences, he wants his readers to feel the pain and losses of black people, as well as, their achievements and how this affects the relationship between black and white people in America “Will America be poorer if she replace her brutal dyspeptic blundering with light-hearted but determined negro humility” (Du Bois, 1903)? The theme that Du Bois vividly portrays in this book is the division of white people and black people by describing the history of blacks through slavery, abolition, education, share cropping and politics. “The negro problem” is outlined by Du Bois in a manner that suggests that abolition of slavery presented a novel problem of what America would do “with all of these newly freed black people” (Du Bois, 1903)? However, it is imperative to note that the objective of The Souls of Black Folk is not to describe the history of black folk only; rather, it describes the history of the United States of America of which the disparity between blacks and whites forms an integral part of that history.What does Du Bois hope to accomplish
Du Bois introduces the concept of the veil in The Souls of Black Folk which refers to three things. The veil describes the dark color of the skin of black people which is a physical difference from that of the white skin color of white people. The veil also evokes the resolve by white people not to view black folk as “true” Americans. Finally, the veil describes the inability or struggle among black people to view themselves beyond or escape the confines of their portrayal in the eyes of white people and what they deem as fit for blacks. As children, most present day African-Americans are usually not aware of societal difference between black and white people until they have an experience later in life that shows them that the society treats them differently because of their black skin color. Du Bois came to terms with this reality when his card was “peremptorily refused by a Southern, white girl” at a youthful ball due to the fact that he was black (Du Bois, 1903). The consequence of this veil is the development of contempt or disdain between black and white people. This contempt causes an obstruction that prevents people from seeing what other people are beyond their skin color. In as much this obstruction is usually present among white people who have a prejudiced or discriminatory predisposition of black people before getting to know who they really are; black people are equally guilty of this obstruction that prevents them from seeing the whole white race due to previous negative encounters with other white people.What does Du Bois hope to accomplish
When a black person comes to the realization of the veil that exists between white people and black people as a result of a negative encounter that illuminates the historically and arguably present implication of his or her skin color in what can be described as “lifting the veil”, the person learns to operate in two worlds, that is, one that is black and one that is white. This is what Du Bois refers to as “double-consciousness.” Black people are aware of the fact that they are not only Americans but also African-Americans and as such, they have learned to instinctively conduct themselves discordantly when traversing the different worlds defined by their two identities. Black folks in the United States may want to have one identity, that is, being an American, but they were born into a society that places a burden upon their shoulders that they must only see themselves through the eyes of others due to their skin color. Despite the strides that have been taken in the past to have a conceptualization of black and white people as equal Americans, black people still have a long way to go to be free of the double-consciousness that is thrust upon them by the society in the United States.
Question 3What does Du Bois hope to accomplish
Summarize the history of minority portrayal in entertainment? What is the effect of that history?
Minorities have been portrayed and treated as second-class citizens since the dawn of America as a nation. However, this discrimination of minorities is no longer upheld by statute and celebrated with beatings and hangings; instead, it is incessantly portrayed in the media, entertainment and film industries. There might not be signs and confederate flags denoting the vivid segregation between white people and colored people in today’s America, but the entertainment, film and media industries do not hesitate to cast minorities as “criminals and leeches to white-upper class America” (Horton, Price and Brown, 1999). Be it through playing disparaging characters in movies or failure to be cast at all, minorities have been victims of an industry that borrows from old ideas of subjugation of minorities so as to appeal to the majority while shunning the effect of such portrayal on minorities.What does Du Bois hope to accomplish
To understand the propagation of inescapable stigmas and negative stereotypes of minorities in the media, entertainment and film industries, it is vital to explore how such seeds were sowed in history and how that has affected the world of entertainment today in the context of minorities. For instance, black people were portrayed in movies as early as 1888 (Horton, Price and Brown, 1999). However, instead of black people playing black characters, the characters were played by white people in “blackfaces” (Horton, Price and Brown, 1999). The foundation of demeaning stereotypes was set by not only refusing to hire black actors to portray black characters but also reinforcing the notion of white supremacy of blacks in films. The impact of such portrayal was the imprint of a lesser, lethargic, criminal and more violent black race in the minds of the public (Sampson, 1997). After over a century, the public still views black people on the basis of the negative and horrible stereotypes portrayed on television, so much so that before they encounter black people, they assume that their characters and demeanors are defined by the degrading stereotypes displayed in the entertainment, media and film industries.
The advent of production of “race films” for African-Americans can be traced back to the film The Birth of a Nation released by D.W. Griffith which depicted black people as “subhuman compared to glorified Ku Klux Klan” (Horton, Price and Brown, 1999). “Race films” presented an opportunity for the film industry to bring to light some of the social concerns of the black community and depict black people with dignity and veneration contrary to previous films that only presented blacks as low-life degenerates. The production of “race films” also influenced the decision by black people to make their own movies. Lincoln Motion Picture Company was the first all-black company that produced films displaying black people in a positive light such as The Realization of a Negro Ambition and A Trooper of Troop K. With increased recognition in the movie industry black actors also started to gain recognition with Stepin Fettchit being a pioneer in the film industry for black people. However, he had a love/hate relationship with black Americans due to his reinforcement of the stereotype of the stupid, lethargic and good-for-nothing Negro through his character. While Hollywood stated that they would stop casting Stepin Fettchit characters so as not to offend the black community, this was not entirely true as the film industry continued to portray the demeaning “darkie” roles played by Stepin Fettchit such as in the movie Nothing to Lose whereby Lawrence’s character projects the negative stereotype of black people as buffoons, yet no one seems to notice (Horton, Price and Brown, 1999). What does Du Bois hope to accomplish
Progress has been made in recent history in the manner in which minorities are depicted on television. For instance research by Media Scope (1998) revealed that two years of European-American preschoolers viewing Sesame Street resulted in positive attitudes toward Latino and African Americans. However, these are just superficial modifications and token changes by the media, entertainment and film industries to humor opponents of negative stereotypes of minorities since minority groups are currently less visible than they were forty years ago. With the majority of the staff and stakeholders in the media, entertainment and film industries being white and the minority being African-American, Asian and Latino, it is extremely difficult to introduce multicultural programming. While arguing that the problem of displaying minorities negatively is as bad now as it was in the past is inaccurate, it is equally inaccurate to claim that situation is better now than in the past since the negative stereotypes have just been modified to make them humorous or look “cool.” The only way to remove these barricades is to have more positive thinkers and people of color in higher ranks in the media, entertainment and film industries.
Du Bois, W. (1903). The souls of black folk.
Horton, Y., Price, R., & Brown, E. (1999). Portrayal of Minorities in the Film, Media and Entertainment Industries. Poverty & Prejudice: Media And Race. Retrieved from https://web.stanford.edu/class/e297c/poverty_prejudice/mediarace/portrayal.htm
Media Scope. (1998). Diversity in Film and Television.
Sampson, H. (1997). Blacks in black and white. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow P.