Thursday, January 1, 2009
That "Otherness": In twentieth-century America, race relations were often unstable. As noted civil rights activist and sociologist W. E. B. Du Bois suggested, the African American constantly battled with the dilemma that existed between his blackness and his American citizenship. There was a distinct "color line" that persisted among whites and blacks. How could the United States endorse liberty as a civic virtue and then substantiate de jure segregation to keep blacks in their place? This contradiction tugged at the root of the African-American identity crisis. Du Bois argued that African Americans possessed a kind of "double consciousness" in The Souls of Black Folk (1903). What was it about being a black American in the early twentieth century that elicited feelings of "otherness" in the faces of whites? Nevertheless, the United States could no longer promote a colorblind society. Recognizing race was vital to realizing inequalities. If one recognized race, then one became cognizant of the separation that existed between the races. And like the Brown decision in 1954, which stated that separate educational facilities were inherently unequal, Americans began to understand that programs such as mandatory busing and affirmative action had to be enacted to rectify the inequities among black and white Americans.