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The book The Souls of Black Folk is an autobiography of the author, W. E. B. Du Bois, experiences of his life. It was first published in 1903. Du Bois uses the book to narrate the challenges he went through because of his color and race in the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century. Du Bois applies songs of sorrow at the start of every chapter followed by the story to show pain and suffering the soul of the black folk was going through. It is through his experiences, Du Bois uses the book to show how black people were suffering due to racial discrimination yet solutions surround the problem. For this reason, Du Bois argues that the problems causing pain among the black people are as a result of inequality in the society and analyzes two recommended solutions to these problems.
First, Du Bois explains that the discrimination black people are going through is causing a problem in the society. At the beginning of the story, Du Bois narrates that black people have never at one point had an opportunity to experience freedom. When he was young, he came to learn that he was different from the others (white people) when a young girl in his classroom refused to take his card. Du Bois clearly explains it in the first chapter, where he states that all the black children start to learn about their place in the society when they are young. As a result, their souls start to nurture darkness as they grow to become mature young adults.
Secondly, Du Bois argues that racism directed towards black people by white people is causing problems among the black people. According to the story, white people regard black people as lazy, simple-minded and violent. Du Bois argues that these problems are brought about by racism. He states that black people have become as they are described above because they do not have rights that are crucial in the improvement of their living standards. For this reason, they portray their pain by the use of violence and they are simple-minded because they lack proper education.
Thirdly, the acceptance of white policies created by the whites for black people is another problem in the society. Du Bois argues that acceptance of white policies like the way Booker T. accepted the education policy is making the problem worse rather than solving it. It means that black people have accepted their place in the society as an inferior race. In this case, the black community will continue to lack crucial rights and freedoms they could achieve in the long run. As a result, the black soul will always be in captivity far away from freedom.
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After explaining how deprivation of rights is causing problems, Du Bois explains the problem itself in the black community. The first problem is the lack of confidence among the black people. According to the story, black people start to be belittled and dehumanized from the time they are young children. As a result, the black people start to develop low self-esteem and fear, covering themselves with a veil. Du Bois continues to state that low self-esteem and fear still pushes black people to the days of slavery. In chapter five, Du Bois explains how black people are haunted by the ghost of dreams and hope just like the olden days of slavery.
A lower quality standard of education among the black community is another problem affecting black community due to racism. In chapter three, Du Bois states that it was the problem of black people due to their slow intake in education. The truth of the matter is that black people had to wait for black teachers to be trained resulting to delay. In the book, from chapter two to the last chapter, it is clear how black people education has grown. At first, black people were considered dangerous if they received any form of education. After some time, black people started to receive an education but the system was pathetic. There were no resources, there was the prohibition of course involving wealth accumulation. As a result, the black souls did not have intelligence to make a successful transition from slavery to freedom.
Death is another problem the black soul faces due to racial segregation by the white community. In the story, there are certain instances, where Du Bois shows how black people are dying due to restrictions of proper health care while others were committing suicides because of discrimination. For example, there is one instance, where a black person killed his entire family and later committed suicide due to hopelessness. He was in the land money, but he could not accumulate any money because of discrimination. Finally, white people did not respect black people even in death. There is an instance in the story, where Du Bois narrates how a heap of dead black people was being run over by a truck. Du Bois sees it as a problem because were it not for racism some of these deaths could not have occurred.
On the other hand, Du Bois has come up with two clear recommendations to solve the problem affecting the black people. He believes that the first solution should come from the black people themselves. In this case, black people should uncover their veils and face reality. The covering of oneself with a veil symbolizes fear and low self-esteem while uncovering of the veil symbolizes speaking out one’s grievances. In the story, Du Bois covers himself with a veil but later he uncovers it. After uncovering the veil, Du Bois has made significant strides in educating both the black and white people about importance of equality. Therefore, as a testimony, Du Bois recommends uncovering of a veil by black people as a solution to the problems of segregation.
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