W.E.B. Du Bois (1868-1963) was an American civil rights leader, writer, scholar, activist and historian. Du Bois in his writings described what he called the “veil” in the African American experience, a sense of two identities at odds in American culture. It was Du Bois’ writing around the turn of the century that impacted a young German pastor on assignment in New York City. That young man was Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who would later write this about his time at Abyssinian Baptist: “In contrast to the often lecture-like character of the white Christ, the “black Christ” is preached with captivating passion and vividness.”
Herein lies the tragedy of the age: not that men are poor, — all men know something of poverty; not that men are wicked, — who is good? not that men are ignorant, — what is Truth? Nay, but that men know so little of men.
There is but one coward on earth, and that is the coward that dare not know.
The treatment of the period of Reconstruction reflects small credit upon American historians as scientists. We have too often a deliberate attempt so to change the facts of history that the story will make pleasant reading for Americans.
How shall Integrity face Oppression? What shall Honesty do in the face of Deception, Decency in the face of Insult, Self-Defense before Blows? How shall Desert and Accomplishment meet Despising, Detraction, and Lies? What shall Virtue do to meet Brute Force? There are so many answers and so contradictory; and such differences for those on the one hand who meet questions similar to this once a year or once a decade, and those who face them hourly and daily.
I do not laugh. I am quite straight-faced as I ask soberly: “But what on earth is whiteness that one should so desire it?” Then always, somehow, some way, silently but clearly, I am given to understand that whiteness is the ownership of the earth forever and ever, Amen!
Thanks for reading…
Success! You're on the list.
Whoops! There was an error and we couldn't process your subscription. Please reload the page and try again.