Racism is one of America's oldest standing problems just about everyone in America wants to end racism based on the negative social implications the term "racist" and the strength of the word and its meaning. This leads to a big question "What can one do to stop racism or to at least stop the rapid spread of racism in this country?" The answer to this question has wandered the minds of many great people there has been many that have theories on how to eliminate racism. Some of these people are well known some are not so much. One of the more well known people who weighed in on a way to eliminate racism was the great W.E.B DuBois. In his masterpiece The Souls Of Black Folk he made what some would consider an excellent idea of how to rid this country of the evil of racism. Using his great words and ideals as a guide one can begin to understand what it takes for America.
First Mr. Dubois states: "In the civilized life of today the contact of men and their relations to each other fall in a few main lines of action and communication: there is, first, the physical proximity of homes and dwelling places, the way in which neighborhoods group themselves, and the continuity of neighborhoods" (p.266). In this short passage he shows a superior understanding of the situation that self-segregation puts us all in. If we don’t live in the same areas and see each other daily how can we begin to heal the wounds of racism? By separating the races and designating them to specific areas we continue the spread of prejudices based on lack of knowledge that lead to discrimination and ultimately racism itself. While many people feel more comfortable in towns and areas where the majority of people are of the same race its beneficial to them to be able to have a connection to people other than themselves. It’s not guaranteed one will spend their whole lives in the presence of people the same as themselves so it’s better for the individual as well as the nation. as a nation to overcome racism. The biggest issue with this is that the neighborhoods are not always in the safest part of the city or town nor is it always financially possible to move closer to other races but this is not the only way to bring people closer.
Of course just moving closer to each other isn’t enough to oust racism completely and Mr. DuBois himself understands this and he continues: "Secondly our age chiefest, there are economic relations, the methods by which individuals cooperate for earning a living, for the mutual satisfaction of wants, for the production of wealth" (p.266). If there is one thing people of all races must do that is provide for loved ones or themselves so working in concert with people of other races to help with that responsibility is a great suggestion. If more people worked in jobs where they came into contact with more than just their race it would of course lead to a better understanding of those different than themselves. It isn’t exactly necessary for people to work together in order to have this understanding but a building point can be made if a person with a racial prejudice learns that just because a person is of a different race that they have the exact same responsibilities it can lead to the idea that maybe the two races aren’t so different after all.
This is a very simple way to heal since lots of people work in diverse jobs anyway so an effort just needs to be made on learning about other races.
If a person doesn’t work in a diverse working environment or live in a diverse neighborhood then there are ways still to connect with different races as Mr. DuBois continues with another: "Next there are political relations, the cooperation in social control, in group government, in laying and paying the burden of taxation" (p.266). Politics like economics can be used to benefit all races involved. In 2008 we saw a Black man elected president of the United States. Not only is this a milestone in it being the first Black man to be president but it also shows what can happen if people of different races combined united for a single cause. Barack Obama could not have become president with the just the black vote or just the white vote but it took the vote of all races. This show of solidarity isn’t unique as it takes more than just the black or white vote for most presidents to win elections. Just about every American president that has won his job after the Voting Rights Act (perhaps a few before) has won with the help of multiple races so Obama's win isn’t uncommon. However it is a great showcase of races overcoming prejudice to unite for a common goal, a common benefit.
W.E.B DuBois so far has given excellent advice on how to overcome racial prejudices and to limit discrimination however he had a few more statements on this topic another way he suggests people to come together is: "In intellectual contact and commerce, the interchange of ideas through conversation and conference, through periodicals and libraries; and above all, the gradual formation for each community of that curious tertium quid which we call public opinion" (p.266). America has a sort of complex that race shouldn’t be discussed in public forums such as on television or in mass media but many agree with DuBois that a public discussion would greatly benefit all involved. What better way to iron out misconceptions about races than to read on them, studies them, or just speaks to the best of them? A fine suggestion would be a roundtable of scholars discussing the many concerns of the general public in a forum of honesty and free flowing ideals since America is a multicultural nation a multicultural roundtable created to discuss the social concerns of the nation would benefit all involved. Perhaps it wouldn’t maybe some people would say no one person can honestly speak for a whole race, nor should they try to but many would suggest maybe that would be better than assumptions based off no conversation at all. Maybe then we can finally talk about how Whites feel about Black on Black violence, find how Blacks feel about illegal immigration and how Latinos feel about Whites being the "dominant culture". Rather than keeping those conversations around the water coolers at work or hidden within blogs or op-ed columns were prejudice, lack of intricate knowledge and miscommunication can breed why not an honest, mature, intellectual, conversation about them has in a public televised forum? Many people will wonder if America can actually handle such a discussion so maybe this is more of an ideal than something that will be or can be done.
DuBois has one final ideal of how to bring people together and it may be the best yet: "religious enterprise, of moral teaching and benevolent endeavor"(p.266). Religion is possibly the best way to bring people together since so many religions are multicultural this idea is sensational. The great Malcolm X a Muslim that studied Islam had a strong prejudice against Caucasian people until a trip to Mecca showed him that some White people shared his religion. This story is the best way to prove that people of all races can agree on many things even the same God (or for some the lack of). There are Black Muslims but there are also White Muslims as well as Mexican Muslims one would hope they have a general feeling of kinship based on their religion. The way one chooses to live their life, a doctrine one chooses to follow and a natural togethernessbetween people in general can also be between races and cultures.
W.E.B DuBois within a single paragraph of his book gave America many different ways in which to better the racial tensions. Although America in 2008 has changed drastically from DuBois day many moons ago America's wounds are still there but not without many band aids. The scars can be healed and diversity can be achieved if America insists that people find common ground within other races whether it be politics, economics, religion etc. all one can do is hope that the it is heard and accepted that things are okay but can be better, and that racism is something that can be overcome with the help of every culture, every race and every American.
The Souls Of Black Folk
DuBois, William Edward Burghardt
published by A.C McClurg and co., Chicago, 1903
re-published by Dover Publications, Inc. 2007