Du Bois’s – Different Sense of Racial Uplift
“Du Bois’s theme of education is a different sense of racial uplift, and his belief that the African- American society can be changed for the better and have equality with the white man through the achievement of education. He strongly believes that with education, african americans can reach empowerment and break the “veil”. The “veil” he describes as the mental barrier that the white man put on african americans mind through oppression, resulting in the loss of self-worth and the ability to reach higher potentials. Du Bois was naive to the veil when he was younger, until he experienced racial discrimination first hand. The veil is a very important theme within the book that occurs many times. Du bois also sees the veil as an opportunity. He speaks about how african americans can use the veil to see what life is like while existing inside the veil and what life is like outside of the veil. This is a special idea because only African Americans can do this because they have experienced oppression, slavery and Discrimination first hand. White people are unable to learn about life in the veil. This is why Du Bois has such a strong sense for education in black folks (racial uplift) he wants to enlighten them to help lead to more successful lives in the african american community so we can be on the same status as the white man. Du Bois believed in what he named “the talented tenth” of the African American population who he said would be able to lead black masses through their academic and intellectual achievements.
One of the biggest problems Dubois has with the common society, is that people are addicted to wealth and are only motivated by money and not trying to better themselves. He says that education can solve this problem of greed by setting higher expectations and bettering the morals people have. Du Bois focuses on how important academic education is vs industrial and technical schooling, which other writers like Booker T. Washington said would benefit the African-American community, but Du Bois cares more about African Americans being equal to the white man. Du Bois admits that some black people are better off working as farmers, workers, and other labor-based jobs, but still holds on to the idea that other black people have the ability to do well in an intellectual career field and should have the chance to do so. He uses evidence that black men have done well in educational institutions and universities such as Harvard and Yale, and that black people who are set up with the opportunity to study have went on to have successful careers as doctors, clergymen, healthcare professionals and even more.
Du bois also speaks on how attending a black college allows students to directly see the problem of racism and understand how it’s tied into their own lives. Du Bois particularly remembers this experience and describes it as a mixed blessing. It provides a better understanding of racial injustice and how education can lead to snob and greed, even though it can allow black people to advance themselves and their communities. This theme is very apparent in the story about the fictional character John Jones. A black man who strived to be a scholar but in exchange his carefree innocence is “ruined” by education. John jones is symbolism he represents the state of black men in the 19th century. He starts off eager to learn but when he is in school he starts to notice the discrimination and hate pointed towards him simply because of his race. This is Du Bois saying that this is when a black man starts to recognize the existence of the veil. When he returns home he is shunned by black and white people, and is later lynched. It may seem like it’s a story against education but it was to be viewed as a pessimistic but honest description of what it’s like to be a black man in America. Although John Jones’s story is a pretty discouraging outlook on education
Du Bois still argues that the South is in desperate need of the knowledge and culture that education can provide. He believes this is the only way to fix the ignorant and greed obsessed people, and is one of the first steps to making african americans become a bit more equal to the white man.
The way Du Bois describes his own development as a teacher and scholar is also a very important piece of the book. His personal experiences of high end universities and academic success creates a huge comparison to the scarce access of education that’s the most accessed by African Americans, mainly those who live in the South. Because discrimination, poverty, and child labor rates were high meaning that ignorance and illiteracy is located in many sections throughout the African American community.
In the book, Du Bois wants to prove that the largely believed notion, that black people’s ignorance is simply result of having a naturally low intelligence is false. He Counters this statement with the idea that it is instead a result of slavery and of the present conditions of the South. He backs himself up citing that during the slavery period slaves weren’t allowed to learn, to read or write. Even though African Americans were now free, they couldn’t learn, they could not work, and they could not build a wealthy status. So it shows the persistence of racism lingering in America resulted in even more oppression that even enslaved the African Americans mind.
Persistent racism also ties to his theme of education because it’s one of the prohibiting reasons why African Americans couldn’t achieve it. This systematic racism that was widespread throughout the nation was a crippling factor to the betterment of the African American race. Because of the extremely prejudice behavior towards black people it made it harder for them to enroll in school, apply as teachers, and attend college. This made a lot of African Americans motivation for education decline, increasing low self esteem making them believe being educated was not needed for them to succeed.
Overall it seems that Du Bois biggest problem is trying to get the existence of the veil gone so African Americans can be motivated and allowed to learn. Once the mental part of the veil is removed from the Negro’s mind then can reconstruction begin and education will be spread throughout the community. More academic achievements will start to rise up within the black community. Eventually boosting confidence and releasing african americans from “mental slavery” that the white man put on us through oppression. After the extreme increase in black people and education the gap in society between blacks and whites will completely diminish. This would be the prime result of education and racial uplift in America.”