African Culture Essay Research Paper When WEB

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African Culture Essay, Research Paper When W.E.B. Du Bois announced in his marvelous work Souls of Black Folk, that the “problem of the 20th Century is the color line . . .” immediately he set out a social and analytical paradigm that instantly recognized that the major racial problem in America was that existing between Blacks and Whites. Nevertheless, we are still, at the end of the 20th Century, struggling with the question of what kind of democratic society we are, or whether we will be a democratic society at all, often oblivious to the fact that the satisfactory resolution of Du Bois’ paradigm is the most critical element in the question. In this respect, what has not been fully grasped by the new radical conservatism is the notion that social justice and human

rights never were disconnected communities of value within the framework of a larger political regime; that they, in fact, define the very nature of democracy itself. Democracy is not just the legal framework of the Constitution, but the real relations among people governed by it. So, the critical objective in the process of Blacks seeking social justice has been to move from an exclusive notion of democracy based upon White dominance to one more perfect even than that envisioned by the founders. When America was first defined, the founders debated the issues involved in the character of democracy. However, the unchallenged and underlying reality was that the authoritative social structure and the effective citizenship of the nation would be White and male, women having been

excluded by custom, most Blacks as slaves excluded by law, and even so-called “freed” Blacks not considered to be citizens. Native Americans, of course, not only were excluded, but were on the chopping block of extermination. From their position as the authoritative citizens, Whites were able to erect institutions and to behave in ways that enforced their notions of social, political, and economic behavior. Certainly, groups such as the Irish or Jews were considered within the pecking order as socially less than the English, Germans, and French. And by the early 20th century, the Chinese, who had been brought to the country in the 19th century to work on the railroads, were legally excluded by the passage of the Johnson-Reed Act of 1924 that affected Japanese exclusion. Since

then, race relations have been defined by the preoccupation with the real and symbolic conflict between “Black” and “White.” Of course, we cannot consider race and color in America as absolutes, for within every group there is a natural variation of biology in people who have been exposed to the world. For instance, for the purposes of maintaining social power, “White” people were created in America. This grouping would have the cultural variation of many European ethnic groups-Irish, German, Slav, French, Spanish, Nordic, all subject to the dominating influences of the English culture, political structure, and economic power. But for the purpose of exercising that power, they merged into a defined “Whiteness” of status and behavior. Africans born in America were

treated collectively as “Blacks,” colored, and Negroes. They not only were culturally African, they were Mandingo, Yoruba, Nuer, Ovinbundu, etc., who came to possess the flavoring of English, French, Dutch or other European cultures through their experience with colonialism. Thus, while cultural variations exist within the dominant grouping of “White” as well as “Black,” it is power that defines the racial stratification as occurring in near absolute terms. That is to say, any Black person, no matter how rich, is subject to acts of subordination based on race. The Black/White paradigm is still a convenient way to dialogue about race, where Blacks represent the oppressed and Whites the dominant group. All non-White groups have been oppressed to one degree or another by