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The Souls of Black Folk: With The Talented Tenth and The Souls of White Folk (1903)

de W. E. B. Du Bois

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"Du Bois' 1903 collection of essays is a thoughtful, articulate exploration of the moral and intellectual issues surrounding the perception of blacks within American society."--Provided by publisher.

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Mostrando 1-5 de 6 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
In my last year of college I was part of an capstone class for my concentration in archival studies. It was a great class, mostly for the passion of my peers, and it was here that I was introduced more fully to W.E.B. Du Bois. A girl was interested in making a digital project around Mr. Du Bois' letters and the music in this book, and it was just kind of amazing to watch. My college was pretty stereotypically "left" in all the cringey, performative ways white upper-middle class young women tend to be, and becoming acquainted with this book through a random band nerd's love of it was just... amazing. There was no ulterior motive. She just loved Du Bois and his writing.

It took me over a read to get to but I'm really glad I did. The Souls of Black Folk is a collection of essays on the current state of Black America. It struck me as a sort of "State of the Union", recounting both the accomplishments of Black Americans but also the great challenges that lay ahead. I have a thing for hundred-year-old books that are eerily prescient, and this book was (unfortunately, in this case) that. Du Bois charts the history and failure of Reconstruction, takes some jabs at Booker T. Washington, reminisces of his days teaching Black youth in the South and the later loss of his son--and my personal favorite--an ethnography-of-sorts of the Black Belt. DuBois tells the reader:

If you wish to ride with me you must come into the “Jim Crow Car.” There will be no objection,—already four other white men, and a little white girl with her nurse, are in there. Usually the races are mixed in there; but the white coach is all white. Of course this car is not so good as the other, but it is fairly clean and comfortable. The discomfort lies chiefly in the hearts of those four black men yonder—and in mine.

It's been nearly three weeks since I finished this, and yeah. I just can't stop thinking about that paragraph. There are a lot of parts that fill that uncomfortable prophetic space, none more so than

Daily the Negro is coming more and more to look upon law and justice, not as protecting safeguards, but as sources of humiliation and oppression. The laws are made by men who have little interest in him; they are executed by men who have absolutely no motive for treating the black people with courtesy or consideration; and, finally, the accused law-breaker is tried, not by his peers, but too often by men who would rather punish ten innocent Negroes than let one guilty one escape. [...] Thus grew up a double system of justice, which erred on the white side by undue leniency and the practical immunity of red-handed criminals, and erred on the black side by undue severity, injustice, and lack of discrimination.

One last point: Du Bois' prose is particularly impressive. His grasp of Classical culture and literature are apparent, and his vocabulary, figures of speech, and general artistry of writing are really bar none. It made reading it definitely a bit more laborious (I just wanted a beach read!), but it will stick with me, if not for the craft for the meta-irony of it all. We are slowly coming to realize (I hope) the fabrication of the classical canon as a sort of test of intelligence, and it's... so apparent in how DuBois comports himself in his work. I think he is very aware of the contrived quality of his writing as a sort of advertisement for educated whites to his Talented Tenth theory.

Here's her project by the way. I miss that class a lot. ( )
  Eavans | Jun 8, 2023 |
One for the Books I Should Have Read Already, and if a nod is necessary, Black History Month. One of the best prose I've ever read. Erudite, impeccably composed, precisely worded...in two words: beautifully written.

I am assigning this to my sons, and I plan to read it again. There is much value here. ( )
1 vote Razinha | May 23, 2017 |
I put this off until I had seen the movie, 12 years a slave. Now, I'm in the middle of reading this, and I find it one of the most fair-minded, and well written books covering the era following the end of the Civil War. It is simply excellent! It's a emotional but not sentimental; extremely well-written.

Now that I've finished, I found myself deeply moved by the Chapter on the loss of his son and by his memories of working as a teacher in a one-room school. Powerful stuff!

This book is available as a free download. Just Google the title. ( )
  KyCharlie | Apr 3, 2017 |
This feels like an Ur-text, for sociology, for identity studies, for African American history. It's like what Euclid is to every Geometry book written since. It's clear-sighted, and it's also very sad, to realize how much momentum has been lost, and how little has changed since Du Bois wrote this book. ( )
  poingu | Jan 23, 2016 |
Larsen describes him as "peppery," and I like that. He's civil, but he's quietly laying haymakers. It's an important book. To a depressing extent, when we talk about racial injustice these days, we're still repeating DuBois.

It is nonfiction - essays on the challenges Blacks face in the wake of the Civil War - so be aware, it's not like it's going to have a plot. I'm reading it one chapter at a time between other things; going straight through was making me miss some stuff.

The prologue, with the iconic question, "How does it feel to be a Problem?" and the confession that, looking at white folks, Du Bois sometimes wanted to just "beat their stringy heads," is worth the price of admission. ( )
  AlCracka | Apr 2, 2013 |
Mostrando 1-5 de 6 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
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Nome do autorFunçãoTipo de autorObra?Status
W. E. B. Du Boisautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Elbert, Monica M.Notesautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Kendi, Ibram X.Introduçãoautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Nelson, KadirArtista da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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This edition includes two additional essays: “The Souls of White Folk,” from the 1920 book Darkwater, and “The Talented Tenth.”
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"Du Bois' 1903 collection of essays is a thoughtful, articulate exploration of the moral and intellectual issues surrounding the perception of blacks within American society."--Provided by publisher.

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