In “ The Souls of Black Folks” written by W.E.B Du Bois there is a a consistent reference to “the color line”. This is the divide between races, how white people are treated differently than other races, specifically African American people. The color line is invisible, but sometimes physical, it was very relevant when the book was published in 1903, and is unfortunately still relevant today in 2018.
Du Bois states that “the problem of the 21st century is the color line, —the relation of the darker to the lighter races of men in Asia and Africa, in America and the islands of the sea”( The Souls of Black Folk, chapter 2). Du Bois goes on to state how the color line is one main cause of the civil war because of the slavery of African Americans. Du Bois also talks about an event in which he was invited to stay for dinner at a white mans house. He was surprised at the mans generosity, until the man ate with his family first, and then allowed Du Bois to eat alone after them.
This demonstrates the color line well because white believed they were so superior to black people, they could not even have dinner with them. During this time period the separation between white and blacks was extreme. Du Bois says “Thus, then and now, there stand in the South two separate worlds; and separate not simply in the higher realms of social intercourse, but also in church and school, on railway and street-car, in hotels and theatres, in streets and city sections, in books and newspapers, in asylums and jails, in hospitals and graveyards”. This quote speaks for itself and shows just how extreme segregation was. Pretty much every where on went there was separation between the races, and a lot of the time blacks could not even go to these places with out being ridiculed and discriminated against.
While things are not nearly as extreme today, the color line still very well exists. The United States of America is no longer a place where white and blacks cannot share bathrooms, or go to the same church. America is overall a very diverse place to live, with a population that consists of many different races including many black people. However, the color line still exists in regards to white people gaining more opportunity than blacks, and the racial profiling that happens every day.
White privilege is still vey well alive in America. A big change that impacted the color line was in 2008 when Barrack Obama was elected as the United States president. In a book titled Paint the White House Black: Barack Obama and the Meaning of Race in America the author Michael Jeffries says “To me the primitive fear of white people is that, if you have an African-American as a leader of the free world, that they are going to have to give away white privilege” (Chapter one, paragraph one). This statement represented why a lot of white people were scared about Barrack being president. He states “as a group, white people sit atop the unjust racial and economic hierarchy, and they collectively benefit when people of color are mistreated or denied opportunity”(Chapter one, paragraph 2).
During the time of his election there were endless racial threats and discriminating statements about President Obama. One of the main antagonists was Newt Gingrich who based his campaign on the fear that white people had in regards to blacks. He said that Obama was a “food stamp president” and through out the election made many statements about blacks being lazy and violent. The verbal attacks on president Obama are just one of the many many situations that show how racist America still is today.
Another big issue today unequal employment opportunities for blacks and other minorities and the racial discrimination that occurs within the workplace. One example of this is in the medical work community. One reform currently happening in America is Healthy People 2020 which is the governments agenda for building a healthier America. So it says something that “one of the main objectives of Healthy People 2020 is to reduce health disparity, including racial discrimination”(Healthy People 2020, 2011).
So if racial discrimination is no longer an issue like many whites like to say, then why is it one of the issues discussed by government? One career this racial discrimination is seen in is home aids/ nurses. These are people who assist the elderly and/or disabled independently in their homes. In a study done by some students at Marshall University their survey concluded that 23% of their employees report racial discrimination or harassment and many patients also reported racial discrimination by care providers. There have also been many cases of racial discrimination at FedEx, one of America’s largest shipping companies.
One of these cases was a black woman named Cathalene who quit her job at FedEx and sued for racial discrimination. When transferring to a new location for her job Cathalene was forced to take a pay cut while a white man who also transferred was not. In her trial she explained that white co- workers would sit at separate tables from blacks and engage in racially discriminating discussions, and not just regular co workers but supervisors as well. Cathalene also had proof of racial comments online from her co workers but was not able to use this evidence in the courtroom. Other workplace discriminations exist as well like black women being told they cannot wear their natural hair to work, or anyone resembling an islamic person not being able to work in airlines. Someone’s culture and natural appearance should not have anything to do with working a job.
A huge controversial concept dealing with race in America today is racial profiling and police brutality. Often times in these events the victim is African American which strongly raises the question of “are police racist”? Studies show that many blacks are likely to say that they fear being pulled over by police simply for the color of their skin, in many tv shows and comedy skits it has been referred to as “driving while black”. In an article written by Legewie Joscha, Joscha provides data based on a stop and frisk search by police in New York. The data shows that only 10.2 % of those stopped are white while 54 % of those stopped are African American.
This research goes on to show that only 2.6% of African Americans were found to have weapons or contraband while 3.7% of whites were found to have weapons or contraband. Through out time and especially within the last few decades there have been numerous reports of police shooting black people like Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin, Terrence Crutcher, Philando Castile,Walter Scott, and Rumain Brisbon just to name a few. All of these men were shot based on cops “feeling” like the suspect was a bad guy or saying that the suspect was reaching for a gun when every time it turns out it was not a gun. Black men are twice as likely to be killed by police officers than white men. It has gotten so bad that congress is considering the End the Racial Profiling act which would require all police officers to write down the race of everyone stopped and punish those who stop based on racial profiling.
All of these issues are examples of the color line and its relevance in America today. The color line is the unequal treatment of blacks based on their color and that is exactly what all of these issues are. People all over are being discriminated against based on the color of their skin just like in The Souls of Black Folk written by Du Bois. Over a century later and racial discrimination is still very much alive in America. One can only hope that people will somehow find away to look past the color of ones skin and see people as just that, people.
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