Thursday, February 9, 2012

BLACK HISTORY MONTH: The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B DuBois

For the month of February, in honor of Black History Month, every Thursday I will review a book that should be a staple in not just every Black America's home, but everyone's home period.  These books are considered classics (at least in my community) and why they are not requirements for reading in school I will never know. 

The Souls of Black Folk
by W.E.B Du Bois
This week we dive into W.E.B DuBois' "The Soul of Black Folk":
The Souls of Black Folk is a pivotal collection not only within the oeuvre of W. E. B. Du Bois' work, but in the whole of the history of sociology and as a mantelpiece of African-American literary history. Drawn from many previously published essays, Du Bois' work reveals the way in which America was reconstructing and redefining itself as a country and culture in the wake of the Civil War forty years prior. Drawn from sociological data as well as his own personal experiences, poetry, history, and song, Du Bois weaves an intricate portrait of African-American culture and life at the beginning of the twentieth century. (from Amazon)

This was a very well written book. However it was an extremely hard book to read because it was so unhappy/depressing and if I was to read this at the time that it was published, I would have felt hopeless.  Personally I did not even think I was going to finish it.  I kept having to put it down.  Maybe if I had read an essay a week, it would not have been so bad.  Nevertheless I caution to not read this book continuously 3 days straight.

With regards to Booker T. Washington (Up from Slavery) suggestion that our (Negro...Black Americans) future rise depends on themselves and the work they put into it, Mr. DuBois express, "it is a great truth that to say that the Negro must strive and strive mightily to help himself, it is equally true that unless his striving be not simply seconded, but rather aroused and encouraged, by the initiative of the richer and wiser environing group, they cannot hope for great success."

I think the information that really pulled at my heart strings were the evidence of maltreatment after Reconstruction.  Slavery was "supposedly" over, but the blacks were consistently being put in an unofficial slavery environment.  All they had to do was charge someone with any type of crime and put him in prison for life at hard labor.

My favorite essay of the book was "Of the Coming of John".  Just eye opening!!  The reason I say this is because I have been feeling some kind of way for some time now, but couldn't put it into words.  This essay came right on time.  It shows a young man who went off to school to seek knowledge and become a teacher back in small town.  However after seeking the knowledge, it made him aware of the prejudices and injustices of his environment and because he knew this was not right to live like this, he could never be happy again. Now how he choose to deal with it, I totally do not agree with that extreme measure, but... to each there own.

If I had to sum the book up, I can say that it made me wonder if ignorance really is bliss  SMH......

Next week: Why we can't wait by Martin Luther King, Jr.

1 comment:

toussaintlouverture said...

Thank you, I always wanted to read it but always felt it sounded way too depressing. I guess i'll just gather my courage and do it!