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The Souls of Black Folk: W.E.B. Du Bois and the Anthropology of Education & Citizenship

A Lecture on chapter 1 of W.E.B. Du Bois' The Souls of Black Folk

Sofia Shank

on 18 February 2016

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Transcript of The Souls of Black Folk: W.E.B. Du Bois and the Anthropology of Education & Citizenship

Zora Neal Huston,
Dust Tracks on a Road, Autobiography (p. 152)
Either that, or you leave off Anthropology."
"I began to treasure up the words of Dr. Reichard, Dr. Ruth Benedict, and Dr Boas, the King of Kings. Away from his office, Dr Boas is full of youth and fun, and abhors dull, stodgy arguments. Get to the point is his idea. Don’t raise a point which you cannot defend. He wants facts, no guesses, and he can pin you down so expertly that you soon lose the habit of talking all over your face."
College Drop Out
Kanye West

"There died a myriad,
And of the best, among them,
For an old bitch gone in the teeth,
For a botched civilization,

Charm, smiling at the good mouth,
Quick eyes gone under earth’s lid,

For two gross of broken statues,
For a few thousand battered books
W.E.B. Du Bois, 1917
Civilization: "An old bitch gone in the teeth"
"Imma take that bitch to college"
"I'm from the most risky zone, oh
No place is more shifty global
More pistols, Russian revolvers
We shootin' all that is normal

But it ain't just because we want to
We ain't got nowhere we can run to
Somebody please press the undo
They only teach us the things that guns do
They don't teach the ABC's, We play on the hard concert"
But listen without the roots of love every day, girl, Your education ain't complete"
Notorious B.I.G.
Kanye West dropped out of Chicago State University in 1996
"....And yet, I have been to Watts to give high-school lectures, for example, and these despised, maligned and menace children have an alertness, an eagerness, and a depth which I certainly did not find in--or failed to elicit from--students at many splendid Universities.

The future leaders of this country (in principal anyways) do not impress me as being the intellectual equals of the the most despised among us....but indeed the reason that this would be so is a very simple one: for it is a very different matter, and results in a very different intelligence, to grow up under the necessity of questioning everything---everything from one's identity to the literal, brute question of how to save one's life in order to begin it..."

James Baldwin "No name in the Streets"
He was an English Major
Imma Read
Zebra Katz (Reddy Foxxx)
"...Considered a fool cuz I dropped out of high school
...and if you don't know, now you know"
Stereotypes of a black male understood...
Somebody please press the undo
They only teach us the things that guns do
"Reading and writing arithmetic
Are the branches of the learning tree
How old is 15 really?
"Good Morning"
...Reading, writing and arithmetic
Are the branches of the learning tree
But without the roots of love every day, girl
Your education ain't complete
T-T-T-Teacher's gonna show you
Show you, show you
How to get an A!
You went to school to learn, girl
Things you never, never knew before
Like I before E except after C
And why two plus two makes four
Ballard on Kenyon's Undefeated Football Team, 1950
On the Student Council at Kenyon, circa 1951
Professor of History and Africana Studies at SUNY-Albany
The Educational Color Line in America
"Few American students have ever taken the university seriously. And few universities have ever taken their students seriously.

Neither had, until recently, paid serious attention to the status of Blacks in this society. For entry into college was an honor unto itself, a promissory note on the society's riches for any white student who dutifully completed his four years of study. Why should a university cater to students when the mere fact of finishing the institution promised a bounty denied to most of one's peers? And why should a student question an institution towards which societal and private pressures have been driving him since childhood?" (Ballard; 1973, p.1)
Although the American university is the most truly conservative of all the society's institutions, the keeper of the culture, at the same time it must and does give the appearance of tolerating and encouraging dissident views.

Moreover, the American college regards itself as liberal on race. The prevailing assumption on most campuses is that racial prejudice is non existent in the academic world. All colleges, however, manifest white superiority: the new Black recruits sees these evidences of racism and responds with wrath.

The combination of the tolerance of dissent and the unwillingness to admit bias produces the widespread vacillating conduct of college administrators and faculties when faced with Black Campus insurrection...On the white campus, liberalism is impaled upon itself." (3)
Between me and the other world there is ever an unasked question: unasked by some through feelings of delicacy; by others through the difficulty of rightly framing it. All, nevertheless, flutter round it. They approach me in a half-hesitant sort of way, eye me curiously or compassionately, and then, instead of saying directly, How does it feel to be a problem? they say, I know an excellent colored man in my town; or, I fought at Mechanicsville; or, Do not these Southern outrages make your blood boil? At these I smile, or am interested, or reduce the boiling to a simmer, as the occasion may require. To the real question, How does it feel to be a problem? I answer seldom a word.
W.E.B. Du Bois
The Soul of Black Folk (Chapter 1)
“When someone with the authority of a teacher, say,
Describes the world and you are not in it, there is a
Moment of psychic disequilibrium, as if you looked
Into a mirror and saw nothing."

In 1968, Jane Elliot, a teacher in a small, all-white Iowa town, divided here third-grade class into bue-eyed and brown-eyed groups. This is the story of that lesson, its lasting impact on those children, and its enduring significance thirty years later.
"A Class Divided" (1985)
It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity.

One ever feels his two-ness,—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder. 4
Kendrick Lamar
"Up the new path [of "book-learning"] the advance guard toiled.... It was weary work. The cold statistician wrote down the inches of progress here and there, noted also where here and there a foot had slipped or some one had fallen. To the tired climbers, the horizon was ever dark, mists were often cold, the Canaan was always dim and far away."
"If, however, the vistas disclosed as yet no goal, no resting-place, little but flattery and criticism, the journey at least gave leisure for reflection and self-examination; it changed the child of Emancipation to the youth with dawning self-consciousness, self-realization, self-respect. In those sombre forests of his striving his own soul rose before him, and he saw himself,--darkly as through a veil; and yet he saw in himself some faint revelation of his power, of his mission.

He began to have a dim feeling that, to attain his place in the world, he must be himself and not another."
No you shut up!
You—the miseducator and misinformer
You—the history rewriter that tries to contain my generation to one-sided tongues
You shut up because I’ve shut up so long my door is wide open
gaping for voices hungry for words unspoken
your lies of my story are depressing to sit in
oozing and surrounding my temple’s foundation
that quivers at the very thought of sinking into nothingness...
I no longer come to you for answers
I lower my raised hand and raise my lowered head
to educators outside the classroom walls
And now in your silence
We see the ability to lead thrives in us all

... Ahhhhh, now how does it feel to be silent?
The rhythms of poetry and dance continue to fill the auditorium.
From double consciousness to double standards
African American students at Hampton Institute, Hampton, Va.
"Man behind horse-drawn plow"
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.
"Men using machinery in woodworking shop"
American Indian and African American students at Hampton Institute, Hampton, Va.

We are training not isolated men but a living group of men, -- nay, a group within a group. And the final product of our training must be neither a psychologist nor a brickmason, but a man. And to make men, we must have ideals, broad, pure, and inspiring ends of living, -- not sordid money-getting, not apples of gold. The worker must work for the glory of his handiwork, not simply for pay; the thinker must think for truth, not for fame. And all this is gained only by human strife and longing; by ceaseless training and education; by founding Right on righteousness and Truth on the unham-pered search for Truth; by founding the common school on the university, and the industrial school on the common school; and weaving thus a system, not a distortion, and bringing a birth, not an abortion.
Patience, Humility, Manners, and Taste, common schools and kindergartens, industrial and technical schools, literature and tolerance, -- all these spring from knowledge and culture, the children of the university. So must men and nations build, not otherwise, not upside down.
-Adrienne Rich Invisibility in Academe
James Baldwin: "Living and Growing in a White World"
Edward Allen Poe
Teach workers to work, -- a wise saying; wise when applied to German boys and American girls; wiser when said of Negro boys, for they have less knowledge of working and none to teach them. Teach thinkers to think, -- a needed knowledge in a day of loose and careless logic; and they whose lot is gravest must have the carefulest training to think aright. If these things are so, how foolish to ask what is the best education for one or seven or sixty million souls! shall we teach them trades, or train them in liberal arts? Neither and both: teach the workers to work and the thinkers to think; make carpenters of carpenters, and philosophers of philoso-phers, and fops of fools. Nor can we pause here.
A Girl Like Me
1.) Where in the documentary do you find Du Boid's concept of the "color-line" being expressed?
2.) What other ideas, histories, concepts explored in du Bois also find expression in the film
3.) How does watching the documentary help contextualize du Bois's chapter? What histories were new to you?
Allen B. Ballard, Professor of History and Africana Studies at SUNY-Albany, is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Kenyon College in Ohio and holds a Ph.D. in Government from Harvard University.

He taught government at City College of New York for 25 years, served as Dean of Faculty of the City University of New York for five years, and is now CCNY Professor Emeritus of Political Science.
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