Fall 2021 Colloquium Series - 15 October
Chike Jeffers, Dalhousie :: Race and Egalitarianism in Du Bois' Darkwater
Friday, October 15, 2021
Abstract: W.E.B. Du Bois' 1920 book Darkwater has not received as much attention as his 1903 book The Souls of Black Folk but is a philosophically rich work that rewards study. This paper will explore how its approach to racial difference relates to its affirmations of human equality. After explaining how the book's prefatory "Postscript" can be read as a kind of manifesto for Africana philosophy, I identify its essays, which defend the value of equality in relation to politics, economics, gender, education, and other subjects, as representative of an egalitarian turn in Du Bois' thought. I then turn to examine Du Bois' attack on white supremacy in the chapter entitled "The Souls of White Folk," explaining how it aims to decenter whiteness in order to dethrone it. Finally, I discuss how Du Bois centers blackness elsewhere in the book, not in order to enthrone it but to foreground it in a manner that advances his overall egalitarian project.