Color Line

In 1903, W. E. B. DuBois explained in his essay, “Of Our Spiritual Strivings,” that “the problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line”(1).   Choose one of the passages below and make an argument about the color line.  While you must use a significant portion of one of the passages below in your paper, you are not limited to that passage. Please feel free to draw short passages from other areas of the same text. However, keep in mind that you must offer at least two lines of analysis for every line of text that you include in your paper.  Consider the following questions:  What is the author trying to tell their audience about the color line?  Are they warning whites? Encouraging blacks to resist? Maintaining the status quo? Teasing out a middle position?  Do you have reason to believe that the author’s biography influences their message? Are there relevant historical facts or texts that shape your understanding of the text?  Do not try to answer all of the questions above in your paper. Instead, focus on supporting a single thesis. It might be helpful to review my comments on the first paper that you wrote.  Please note that you are not permitted to use any outside sources. You are limited to class texts, notes, and discussions.    A. “’I have no race prejudice, ‘ he would say, ‘but we people of mixed blood are ground between the upper and the nether millstone. Our fate lies between absorption by the white race and extinction in the black. The one doesn’t want us yet, but may take us in time. The other would welcome us, but it would be for us a backward step. ‘With malice towards none, with charity for all.’ We must do the best we can for ourselves and those who are to follow us. Self-preservation is the first law of nature.’”   B. From Gertrude’s direction came a queer little suppressed sound, a snort or a giggle. Irene couldn’t tell which. There was a brief silence, during which she feared that her self-control was about to prove too frail a bridge to support her mounting anger and indignation. She had a leaping desire to shout at the man beside her: ‘And you’re sitting here surrounded by three black devils, drinking tea.’”   C. “Clare’s ivory face was what it always was, beautiful and caressing. Or maybe today it was a little masked. Unrevealing. Unaltered and undisturbed by any emotion within or without.”    D. “Rage boiled up in her.   There was a slight crash. On the floor at her feet lay the shattered cup. Dark stains dotted the bright rug. Spread. The chatter stopped. Went on. Before her, Zulena gathered up the white fragments.”    E. “He was nearly there now. He could see the black clay on the sloping hillside. Once inside a kiln he would be safe. For a little while at least. He thought of the shotgun again. If he only had something! Someone to talk to…Thas right! Bobo! Bobod be wid im. Hed almost fergot Bobo. Bobod bringa gun; he knowed he would. N tergether they could kill the whole mob. Then in the mawning theyd git inter Will’s truck n go far erway, t Chicawgo…”   F. Buck stopped at the edge of the embankment, his head jerked backward, his body arched stiffly to one side; he toppled headlong, sending up a shower of bright spray to the sunlight. The creek bubbled. Big Boy and Bobo backed away, their eyes fastened fearfully on a white man who was running toward them. He had a rifle and wore an army officer’s uniform. He ran to the woman’s side and grabbed her hand.

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