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Dubois & Race Conflict: Crash Course Sociology #7

Dubois & Race Conflict: Crash Course Sociology #7


Two bachelor degrees.
PhD from Harvard University. Two-year fellowship to study in Berlin. Professor of sociology and history at two
different universities. Author of countless books. Activist and co-founder of a key civil rights
organization. Editor and co-founder of a magazine. And a poet to boot.
Pretty good resume, yeah? What if I make it a bit more impressive? That PhD from Harvard? First Harvard PhD granted to an African American. The civil rights organization? The NAACP. That magazine? The Crisis, the longest running black publication
in the United States, in print since 1910. This resume belongs to William Edward Burghardt
DuBois, whom you might know better as W.E.B. Dubois. He was one of the earliest American sociologists,
as well as one of the first proponents of race-conflict theory. And his studies of the lives of African Americans
during the Jim Crow era of American history – and the oppression they faced – are the
cornerstones of how sociologists study race. [Theme Music] W.E.B. Dubois was born in a small town
in Massachusetts in 1868. 1868 – that’s five years after the Emancipation
Proclamation. Three years after the end of the American
Civil War. And the same year that the 14th amendment
was passed. At this time, race was considered a biological
construct. Slavery, and later the Jim Crow laws – laws
in the South that enforced racial segregation – were framed as natural consequences of the
supposed, natural inferiority of Blacks to Whites. We, of course, now know that this was not
just wrong, but deeply harmful. And more than that – the idea that race itself
is a purely biological, immutable quality is also
understood today as being simply untrue. Instead, race is thought of as a socially
constructed category of people, who share biological
traits that society has deemed important. Yes, human beings vary a lot in how we look –
our skin color, our facial features, our body shapes,
our hair texture. But those visual markers only become a “race”
when members of society decide that specific
markers constitute a specific racial group. This is why the concept of race often changes,
across cultures and times. For example, when Dubois was alive, Irish and
Italian Americans weren’t considered ‘white,’ either. But today, try telling some Boston Southie
guy or an Italian grandma from Pittsburgh
that they’re not white. See what they say. Did something change about Irish and Italian
Americans biologically? Of course not.
It’s how society saw them that changed. And it’s that last bit – what race a person is
seen as, and how they’re treated as a result – that ends up being a huge determinant
of a person’s social outcomes. Dubois began to consider his race as a part of his identity, when he moved to the South to go to college, and then spent several years in Europe. He saw how differently black people were treated
in different places, and was disillusioned about how
Americans treated him based on his skin color. He can describe this disillusionment much
better than I can: “One ever feels his twoness,” he wrote,
“an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts,
two unreconciled strivings; two warring id.” This quote reveals a really critical underlying
thread in much of Dubois’ work – the idea
of double-consciousness. Dubois argued that there are two competing identities as a Black American – seeing one’s self as an American and seeing one’s self as a Black person while living in white-centric America. Living as a member of a non-dominant race,
he said, creates a fracture in your sense of
identity within that society. These feelings are what fueled Dubois’ work, which focused on the disparities and conflicts between people of different races – what we now call race-conflict theory. Today, questions of race and identity are studied by sociologists who work on racial identity theory, which looks at how individuals come to identify as a certain race. Dubois didn’t only research racial identity,
though – he also looked at the everyday lives of black and white Americans and wrote extensively about how and why their lives differed so drastically in post-slavery America. Let’s go to the Thought Bubble to look at
one of Dubois’ early studies of these disparities. In 1896, the University of Pennsylvania hired
Dubois to do a survey on Black communities
in Philadelphia. His work eventually became ‘The Philadelphia
Negro,’ the first published study of the living
conditions of African Americans. Dubois went knocking on doors, asking people
questions about themselves and their families. And there were an awful lot of doors. All told, Dubois collected data on 9,675 African
Americans. He focused on one specific ward of Philly – the 7th ward, a historically Black neighborhood that attracted families of all classes, from doctors and teachers, to the poor and destitute. He sat in thousands of parlors, asking questions
about age, gender, education, literacy, occupations, earnings, crime, and documented the ways in
which African-Americans differed from Philly’s
white residents. For example, the Black population turned out
to be much younger than the White population
and had a higher proportion of women. It also had lower literacy rates, higher rates of poverty
and crime, and a higher concentration of workers in the
service industry than in manufacturing or trade. Mortality rates were higher, as was the frequency
of illness. But here’s what made Dubois’ report especially
unique: He concluded that much of the dysfunction within
Black communities came from their inferior access
to things like education and more lucrative jobs. The reason that the black population had higher rates of death and illness, he said, was because of occupational hazards, and poverty, and less access to health care. It’s hard to express just how radical Dubois’
conclusions were at the time. The problems in black communities were not due to
racial inferiority, Dubois argued, but to racial prejudice. And that was completely different from how
many Americans thought at the time. Thanks Thought Bubble. So, race doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It doesn’t just imbue you with certain essential
qualities. Instead, race matters because of the power
that society gives it. For another example, let’s stick with Philly
and use the labor unions there in the 1890s. Because of prejudice against Black workers,
and beliefs about their abilities and morals, trade labor unions didn’t allow Black
workers to join. And because they couldn’t join unions, many Black workers couldn’t get manufacturing or trade work – which paid much better than service work. And because they couldn’t get these jobs,
Black communities had more men out of work, higher rates of poverty, and more criminal
behavior. Which then allowed the white workers and
unions to justify their decision to not allow black
workers into their union. The prevailing beliefs about race and racism
ultimately reinforced themselves. This is what’s now known as racial formation
theory, a theory formalized by modern sociologists
Michael Omi and Howard Winant. Racial formation refers to the process through
which social, political, and economic forces influence
how a society defines racial categories – and how those racial categories in turn
end up shaping those forces. Omi and Winant argue that the concept of race came about as a tool to justify and maintain the economic and political power held by those of European descent. Another modern look at these issues can be
seen in the work of sociologist William Julius
Wilson. He explores why Black and White Americans
tend to have such different outcomes in terms
of income, education, and more. And he argues that class, not race, is the
determining factor for many Black Americans. But the reasons that these class gaps exist
to begin with, come from the structural disadvantages
that date back to Dubois’ time. Dubois continued to research the ways in which
prejudice, segregation, and lack of access to education
and jobs were holding back African Americans. A strong advocate of education and of challenging Jim Crow laws, he clashed with another leading black intellectual of the time, Booker T. Washington, who advocated compromise with the predominantly white political system. Over time, DuBois grew frustrated with the
limits of scholarship in affecting change, so he turned to direct activism and political
writing. In 1909, he co-founded the National Association
for the Advancement of Colored People or the NAACP,
and was the editor and intellectual driving force behind
its magazine, The Crisis. The NAACP fought against lynching, segregation
of schools, voting disenfranchisement, and much more. It used journalism as one of its most powerful
tools, publishing the records of thousands of
lynchings over a thirty year period. And it used lawsuits, targeting voter disenfranchisement
and school segregation in decade-long court battles. And, after DuBois’ time, it went on to become
part of many of the landmark moments in the
fight for civil rights, including the Brown vs. Board of
Education case, the Montgomery Bus Boycott
and the March on Washington. Modern sociologists continue Dubois’ work
on racial politics, asking the question: How is race intertwined with political power,
and the institutional structures within a society? Sociologist Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, for example,
argues that we now have what he calls “racism
without racists.” What he means is: Explicitly racist views have become less socially acceptable, so fewer people are willing to say that they don’t think Black and White Americans should have equal rights. But, as Bonilla-Silva points out, that doesn’t
mean racism is a thing of the past. Instead, he says, structural racism – the kind that’s entrenched in political and legal structures – still holds back the progress of racial minorities. Take, for example, the fact that the median
wealth of white Americans is 13 times higher than
the median wealth of black Americans. Now, you could look at that and say, well, black people
just aren’t as good at saving as white people. After all, it’s not like there’s anything legally
preventing them from making or saving more money. But that completely ignores the ways in which
wealth builds up over generations. Past generations of Black Americans were unable
to build wealth, because they had far less access
to higher incomes, banking services, and housing. These ideas about how the structures of power
interact with race may have their origins in Dubois’ work,
but they continue today. And so do his studies of racial resistance. Researchers of racial resistance ask: How
do different racial groups challenge and change
the structures of power? Sometimes racial resistance is easy to see
in society. Think the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s
and 60s, or Black Lives Matter today. But sociologists can also look at more subtle
forms of resistance, too, like resistance
against racial ideas and stereotypes. For example, sociologist Patricia Hill Collins has written about the different relationships that black and white women have had with marriage and staying home to raise a family. In the feminist movement of the 1960s and
70s, one of its key issues was the exclusion
of women from the workforce. Entering the workforce was seen as a form
of resistance. But Black women have, for most of
American history, been forced to work, or needed
to work to help support their families. For them, Collins argues, joining the workforce
is not resistance. Instead, staying at home to care for their
families can be an act of resistance against
society’s expectations for Black women. All of these modern fields of study within
race-conflict theory – racial identity, racial formation, racial politics, and racial
resistance – they all have their origins in the work of
one sociologist: W.E.B. Dubois. Today we talked about W.E.B. Dubois, one of
the founders of sociological thought and the founder
of race-conflict theory. We talked about race and how our understanding
of how we define race has changed over time. We talked about Dubois’ idea of ‘double-consciousness’ and how it relates to the modern day field of racial identity. We introduced the idea of racial formation and used Dubois’ survey of African Americans in Philadelphia to look at how economic, political, and social structures affect how we perceive different races – and vice versa. And finally, we looked at the activist side of Dubois’ life as co-founder of the NAACP and editor of the Crisis, and discussed how modern day sociologists study racial politics and racial resistance. Next time, we’ll take a look at some of
the sociologists who were at the forefront of a different type of conflict theory: gender-conflict theory. Crash Course Sociology is filmed in the Dr. Cheryl C. Kinney Crash Course Studio in Missoula, MT, and it’s made with the help of all these nice people. Our animation team is Thought Cafe, and Crash Course is made with Adobe Creative Cloud. If you’d like to keep Crash Course free for everyone, forever, you can support the series at Patreon, a crowdfunding platform that allows you to support the content you love. Speaking of Patreon, we’d like to thank all of our patrons in general, and we’d like to specifically thank our Headmaster of Learning David Cichowski. Thank you for your support.

100 comments on “Dubois & Race Conflict: Crash Course Sociology #7

  1. aw, man, I got my hopes up when I saw the title as I binge this series. "small town in Massachusetts"? 🙁 And here I am sitting in Great Barrington, unacknowledged . . .

  2. I want to say I love the Crash Course videos, they are kind of like Cliff Notes but funny. I do have an issue with the use of stats though. I paraphrase here but you mentioned the wealth of whites in America was 13 times that of blacks(and other minorities?). However in one of the earlier sociology videos( episode 2 or 3?) you mentioned that if you include the upper 1% all salaries rise making the average household income data not really true. Sorry this is a long winded way to say didn't you do exactly that with the average wealth statistic? It's misleading and probably should be edited or see if there is a study that looked at particular groups and not just compare apples and oranges, while throwing in some pineapples and making believe that it is fact.

  3. I know how to determine which "race" is "superior". Have everyone on the planet run for 2 days. Take the AVERAGE of each race.

  4. Great video! Especially with everything that’s going on in the US with white supremacy. Sometimes one needs to look at history for things to make sense in the present.

  5. Nice series!!! P.S. It would've been better if you spoke a little bit more slowly (although I use captions) for the info to be more digestible. (:

  6. İsn't it counterintuitive for black women to stay at home and look after their families? In my mind, the best way to end the racial struggle in America is for People of colour to obtain economic power by fully entering the work force, accumulating wealth over generations in the process acquiring this much needed economic power. Once black people are economically and politically equal to other ''races'', i hate using that word, the racial prejudice is going to fade away over time.

  7. "And he argues that class, not race, is the determining factor for many Black Americans. But the reasons that these class gaps exist to begin with come from the social disadvantages that date back to Dubois' time."

    This seems to debunk many arguments against affirmative action, especially those that argue that we should focus on class rather than race.

  8. Please – no longer remove breath/pauses from your videos. They are full of wonderful information, but most people cannot listen as quickly as your videos speak. Pausing allows viewers to take information in, and absorb it – instead of feeling conflict and going for a different video. Thank you! NG – educator.

  9. yikes these comments are full of saltine sentiments. cant we discuss black prosperity and academia without white anger?

  10. Would be interested to see the source document from the 1800s where non-Irish white people classified Irish people as “not white”. It’s understood that they were of a different social class, but to say they were thought of as a different “race” from “other white people” is new information for me.

  11. ??? I came here trying to find the DuBois and Ocvirk theory (tribology) lol this is something completely different!

  12. I think the major problem with the idea of historical and modern racism being seen as the reason for the differences in wealth between black and white Americans, is that is causes many of them to put the blame on society as a whole instead of trying to change their own situation.

    For instance, the Irish/Catholics integrated in to society by working to get rid of alcoholism and work hard, to change how people viewed them. Meaning I think giving someone anything to blame but themselves can put an overemphasis on that other thing instead of improving.

    Make any sense?

  13. This was somewhat interesting.
    Maybe she should have paid for a few more minutes to slow her pace down on speaking. I was able to follow her but others may not be able too.
    I wonder was this done intentionally to force ppl to review this youtube so it can get more hits or done to discourage certain viewers. It would have been refreshing to see a person of W.E.B culture, race, or heritage give this presentation as well. To experience living as an African American/Black and present this information would have been rather interesting & even more authentic.

  14. I'm no scholar, just a thinker and I'm so happy I finally decided to watch this series. I've been leaning more to the right lately and I was having a hard time justifying it because society says as a black millennial woman, I should be liberal. But intuitively I knew that being a strong independent woman wasn't anything new or radical for me but a prison. It's my turn to be soft and to let the men lead. Being a homemaker and caring more about the emotional and psychological well being of myself and my family mean far more to me than wearing Christian Louboutins and being CEO of a company. I think that's what the black community needs now and videos like these help to explain why. I'm so happy I found this video because it helped me articulate the ideas I've been struggling with. As well as given me some great HW and reading material. Yet another great series, thank you Crash Course!

  15. This is petty but I'm bothered by the English pronunciation of Dubois, very much.
    Other than that, very interesting and insightful video. It's a bit American-centric though, I've noticed the USA has much stronger divisions of race/ethnicity than elsewhere (much like Dubois!). Here in Argentina I see prejudices based more on nationality rather than race (against some neighbouring countries). And people seem to identify more strongly with their nationality rather than a race. I think it's similar in Europe.
    The topic of racial identity has always been fascinating and a little baffling to me since my own race would change according to who you ask (actually I think it changes if you ask an American vs. literally anyone else).

  16. Unpopular opinion!!!!! On what you mentioned about how African decedents where not able to succeed in life due to the past is stupid. Just because you are held back doesn’t give you an opportunity to stay there. They should excel due to that be eager to win. “Blacks” are just like you and me they should be treated the same too. Just because your born in a ghetto doesn’t mean you half to stay there

  17. I love how everyone in the comments knows to pronounce “Dubois” as “du-bwah,” but every time a telemarketer calls me from outside of South Louisiana all I get it “DO-BOYS, DA-BOY, DO-BOSE?” 😂

  18. Race is a genetic component. It is real. As racist saying some white people are not white doesn't mean these people are not white.

  19. The original racists may have had a role in making blacks go to poor places but they do not have any power Meaning the legal and political components have been stripped of racism.

  20. race is not white or black. Irish, Italian, Nigerian, Somalian, Spanish, Mayan, Cherokee, Miami, Saponi, Greek, Chinese, Japanese etc etc this is race and ethnicity. White, black, yellow, brown are just skin tone and color associated with people. You have fair skin and wavy haired ppl who look southern Spanish or French or Italian who are actually multiracial of euro african descent but identify as black or African American

  21. Irish and Italians weren't considered non-white, but they were still considered belonging to a different race, mainly because they were Catholic, and not Protestant.

  22. I find it interesting that the statistics regarding the black population which Dubois recorded and studied in Philadelphia replicate themselves across Africa, even countries like Ethiopia which have never been colonized? Strange.

  23. as an old white man, that was on this earth when Du Bois was still here, I agree with much of this study. I guess what I struggle with today is the seemingly lack of desire to pursue education by the majority of the black race. They go to the same school as whites, and standards have been lowered in order to keep them moving through the school system. Yet 50% of the males drop out…is this the fault of white people?
    I've not seen oppression in 50 years. So please tell me, why does it seem like the majority of black people choose to hate education, hate law and order, hate family…
    Am I to believe that it's because of slavery? I am pretty sure that there is not one former slave alive today. And not one slave owner. And yet, with the exact same opportunity available, it seems to be only the black race that is stuck in neutral or even reverse.
    I'm still in the business world, I deal with all types of people but I have found, over decades, that the majority of black people I've dealt with are profoundly less intelligent and completely inept in matters of business and maintaining a good position for themselves fiscally. After 50 years of being in the same schools as white people…and this is the result? How is that possible? At what point does it become the responsibility of the black person themself? Will slavery be a crutch as to why you can't do this or that for the next 200 years?
    And BLM…do they? 6,000 blacks die every year at the hands of other blacks. Where is the outrage on that? Does a black life only matter when taken by a white cop? It seems so. The illegitimacy rate in the black race is far greater than any other race. Who's fault is that? You abort more babies than you keep…but black lives matter?
    Someone…please help me understand. I know how evil white society was. Inexcusable, horrible, shameful. Atrocity after atrocity. I believe this country owes you something…but what? Tell me what it is. What makes you whole at this point? That's what I want to know.

  24. It occurs to me that we are analyzing a construct which is perverted by many forces including (but not excluding other factors) personal experiences, social manipulation to achieve a desired outcome, and lack of precision/clarity around language. As a result, the study of sociology is a study in the manifestations of dysfunction rather than the root cause. This is why America remains divided and very dysfunctional. We need to apply first principle thinking if we are to escape the cycle. For example, what is equality … it depends on context, as well as other things upon which we have no control.

  25. Hard to think of field of endeavour that has failed more catastrophically than sociology. Where medicine as wiped out smallpox, engineering is sending us to Mars, economics is dragging more people out of poverty than in all of history, agriculture is feeding 7 billion people, biology has mapped the genome, architecture gives us sustainable structures etc etc sociology (and assorted 'studies') gives us more class, race and gender war than we have had in generations. The only discipline that makes life worse for everyone.

  26. this video is worth debunking, she is not being objective by sticking solely with his works, but is springboarding off his corpse to push "race intersectionality" which he never talked about.

  27. Great crash course on Du Bois and I've shared it on our Beloved Community FB page (Episcopal Diocese of Western MA) since we are doing a diocesan book read of The Souls of Black Folk. His 150th birthday was celebrated in his hometown of nearby Great Barrington, MA. Please check your spelling of his surname. Thanks for pronouncing it correctly!!

  28. Post-modernist garbage. This is why the social sciences will never be taken as seriously as the natural sciences. Very few social scientists are capable of studying their field with an objective mindset and a serious pursuit of the truth.

  29. I have been enjoying your videos a lot but I have to disagree with the start of this one. We don't specify in different etnicities because of they're biological features and social context. We do it because it helps us understand their behaviour(which has always been true, so not just a social context of the time) since different cultures have different values and often within our own view some behaviour of another culture doesn't make any sense.

  30. i think that there are still remnants of the jim crow laws, but nowadays im pretty sure the basis of social disadvantages is not race based, its class based, if you are poor, doesnt matter if you are balck or white, the bank wont give you the loan. Poor=fucked, even though the fact that many blacks are poor, could be remnants of the years of policies taht affected them negatively

  31. I'm shocked and incredibly proud that I haven't read any hateful comments here. Even the people who disagree with some of the assertions in the video are doing so calmly.

    Of course, I haven't scrolled that far and I'm kind of worried to ;^_^

  32. Ones grand conclusions are missing, such as his tour of Germany in the Mid-1930's and Russia-his central views of the state/race/society/strong man government are cleansed from this- that is the punch line

  33. Not that he was incorrect, but if Dubois had known that race was a "construct" I'm inclined to believe that his ideas towards resolutions would have been reshaped considerably. Just to show how insidious and difficult the idea of race is for us to lay aside and stop giving validity to…the young lady in the video, who did a great job BTW, even after establishing that race is a construct and not biologically based, therefore rendering it as an inaccurate and misleading descriptor or way of classifying human beings, she continues to use the term, repeatedly, in ways that reinforce its perceived validity. So, effectively, a video seeking to invalidate racism and race based paradigms, does so on one hand and reinforces them on the other. This isn't intentional, of course. This is why we need to go further than theorizing and into reshaping dialogue with appropriate language, in order to communicate accurate ideas. This isn't simple and will at first seem laborious. This is the only way to transfer the idea into our dialogue, which can then be the spoken currency to help guide our interaction and culture.

  34. Everyone arguing on the comments, meanwhile I’m having to adjust the speed to .25 just because how fast this girl talks

  35. I understand that race is not that significant to a persons character or abilities. But if race is a social construct why are people from Sweden mostly blonde haired and fair skinned, and Japanese mostly dark haired and fair skinned, and people from Africa dark skinned and dark haired. Isn't this what is meant by 'race'? And if not isn't it significant enough to be given a distinction? Clearly millennia of relative isolation aided in developing different gene pools.

  36. I'm all for helping others, just don't hold people back based on their skin color. Merit over group identity is inherently the American value.

  37. Argh. A tad too much bias and presuppositions for my blood. As expected, they trot out the claim that poverty leads to crime, when anyone can see that this isn't true (Amish are poorer than blacks and whites, yet commit almost no crime; blacks during the Reconstruction were poorer than whites, but didn't commit crime at any higher rate than whites. Compare that today. Poverty cannot be the causal ingredient as to why blacks commit far more crimes than whites and Hispanics in the USA today)

    I find it interesting that CrashCourse devotes a video to Dubois, and even mentions that Booker T Washington was his rival, holding opposing views. So… where's the video on BT Washington? Or do his conservative philosophies not merit examination and discussion from a left-leaning channel?

  38. Hi crash course I am leaving this channle for a while i am going to back to crash course kids you guys and gals are to smart for me and to advanced bye i will be at crash course kids

  39. What if racial inequality is just the result of IQ inequality? Has anyone ever considered that? The average black american IQ is 85 which is well-below the average white/asian/asheknazi.

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