Sociology is the study of the development, structure, and functioning of human society. In other words it’s the study of what makes humans tick. In college, I played The Color Game which is a social experiment that dealt with racial, socio-economic, and gender issues. 10 weeks living in the shoes of another was fairly eye-opening, but the real surprise was how resistant some people were to opening themselves up to learn and/or empathize with people unlike themselves. The social experiment taught many that there were many sides to an individual than just their color.
W.E.B. Du Bois was the first African American to earn a doctorate degree from Harvard University. He was a professor of sociology, history, and economics at Atlanta University. He was also a co-founder of the N.A.A.C.P. Du Bois was an activist for full civil rights for African Americans. He spoke out against Jim Crow laws, discrimination and legisilation that marginalized African Americans in a post Civil War era. Being well-educated on history and sociology, he approached his activism through the prism of his education. His activism transcended the struggles of African Americans on American soil to the African colonies under European rule.
During the Reconstruction Era in the United States, blacks were scapegoated for the many failures of the time. Du Bois contradicted that prevailling theory through prolific writings speaking on the matter. He believed that capitalism was the root to racism in America which underscored a lot of the machinations used to further marginalize African Americans. Du Bois, being a student and teacher of sociology, delved into the dual mindset of the African American which holds true to the present day. In his collection of 14 essays in The Souls of Black Folk, he explores the double consciousness of black folk in being American and black. He saw it as a handicap in history but it being a possible strength in the future.
Observing the current day treatment and reception of African Americans, I believe W.E.B. Du Bois was correct in believing the double consciousness would be a strength. There is a sense of pride in African Americans who embrace both sides of their coin. When Beyonce performs for the Superbowl with a Black Panther tribute, James Brown tells us to say it loud (I’m black and I’m proud), and James Baldwin let’s his pen do the talking, America knows that the African American is growing into a strength and pride that cannot be denied. Unfortunately, with the growing need for movements like Black Lives Matter, there is still a residual part of society that only see the color black as something to eradicate under the umbrella of fear.