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Book summaries

Book summaries

Posted on Jul 2018:- By: PaperHub
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W.E.B Du Bois (1903). The Souls of Black Folk. Top 100 classic publishers.

The Souls of Black Folk is an authoritative work in American history written by W.E.B Du Bois that is a major cornerstone of African-American literary history. It was written in 1903 and contains several essays on race. In Chapter 1, he passionately talks about the struggle that the African American people went through calling for the right to vote, to have a quality education and also calling for fair treatment and justice. The book talks about a decade between 1870 and 1880 that was his search for freedom and he talks of the carpetbaggers going to the South for personal gain. He acknowledges the passing of the 15th Amendment that allowed for the African-Americans’ right to vote and also states that Abraham Lincoln contributed in a major way to the wellbeing of the black slaves.

The second chapter is called “Of the Dawn of Freedom” and begins with the words “The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line.” Du Bois discusses the historical period of between 1861 to 1872 about the black minority and the struggle they went through. He asserts that the consideration of people by their color is what caused a major problem such as the Civil War witnessed in America. Du Bois further tells of his entering Fisk University in Tennessee where he comes from the first-hand experience of the Jim Crow world of the children in the south. He can traverse the South experiencing and documents in the book the level of discrimination based on the color that existed in the region.In chapter III and VI, Du Bois majorly concentrates on education arguing with Booker T. Washington’s idea of solely focusing on industrial education for the black men. He advocates for a classical education that would establish leaders as well as educators among the black people. The Chapters VII to IX involves a form of sociological study of the black population. Du Bois further investigates and articulates the influence that segregation had on black people. He asserts that the stereotyping against them that they were lazy, simple minded and violent were a direct result of the treatment that the black population received from the white majority.

 

Omi M. & Winant H. (1986). Racial Formation in the United States: From 1960 to the1980s. New York: Routledge.

On chapter 4, Michael Omi and Howard Winant analyze the racial formation theory as an analytical tool in sociology. They used the theory to look at race as a socially constructed identity whereby the importance and the content of the racial categories are determined by the political, economic and social forces. They developed the view that contrary to the other race theories before the racial formation in the book, the racial meanings pervades the society of the US. It extended from shaping the individual ethnic identities to the structuring of the overall political action on the terrain of the nation.

According to the book, race is a social concept. They start by exploring the historical development of race as a dynamic and liquefied social construct. Their view goes against the dominant courses on race that suggests that it static and unchanging concepts based on physical and genetic criteria.

According to Michael Omi and Howard Winant, the racial formation perspective is imperative at explaining race as an autonomous field of the social conflict, the political organizations as well as ideological and cultural meaning.  They further emphasized the extent to which the race was a social and political construction and operates at two levels. They are the micro and macro. The micro is the individual identities while the macro is the collective social structures. They assert that the two levels interact to form a social movement when a person at the micro level is mobilized in the response to the political, racial injustice at the macro level.