In The Souls of Black Folk, W. E. B. Du Bois’ talks about his life as a black person and what it felt like to “be the problem” . Du bois is fighting for equal rights for black people because after the civil war ended, the government intended to give black folk equality but this only encouraged more racism. Du Bois wrote this book in order to uplift black America by encouraging them to be equal with whites. He suggested that blacks follow his gradualist political strategy, which encouraged them to be more book smart and attend college.
Du Bois believed that the only way to be equal with white people was to be on the same intelligence level, which could be achieved through higher education. During this time, there was another black leader who was also trying to fight for equality between blacks and whites. This man was known as Booker T. Washington. His strategy to uplift black America was to encourage them to go to vocational schools in order to better their job skills and be equal in the work force. Washington focused on economic equality because he didn’t believe that blacks would ever have social equality.
Du bois disagreed with Washington because he believed that vocational school was “the legal creation of a distinct status of civil inferiority for the Negro. ” Instead, Du Bois wanted black people to be intelligently equal. He wanted there to be a “talented tenth” in the black population that would influence and aid the rest of the black population to become intellectually equal with whites. The reason for the discrepancies between Du Bois and Washington’s argument is largely due to their backgrounds. Du Bois was a sociologist that was born a free black man. Washington on the other hand, was born a slave.
Opportunities were limited for black slaves and their minds are imprinted in the idea that they could never be equal. Since Du Bois was not born into slavery, he is more daring in his approach to equality. I think that Du Bois has the right idea of gaining equality because in today’s day and age, the most successful people have a lot of educational background, even the blacks and whites. We also have our first black president, so it is not impossible for blacks to have social equality. However, I don’t think that Du Bois had a perfect plan because he believed in this double consciousness, which is viewing one self through the eyes of others.
I think that seeing oneself through others eyes does not encourage the building of ones own identity. Every person should be able to present themselves as they want to be viewed. He also talks about there being a “talented ten” but that is still making a totem pole for black people to climb. I think that everyone in society should be encouraged to get a higher education and the ones who end up being the most talented will be on top. The idea I have is equal opportunity to succeed regardless of race.