Running head: W.E.B. Dubois

Essay #1
Running head: W.E.B. Dubois

“The Criteria of Negro Art”
LBST 255
Arts and Ideas of the Emerging Modern World:
The Harlem Renaissance
W.E.B. Dubois, a Harlem Renaissance pioneer and a founder of the “Talented Tenth”, worked diligently to ensure that there were equal and civil rights for all blacks.
Dubois was relentless in his efforts to enlighten society of how valuable the African American man and woman are and the contributions that he or she would make if
allowed, afforded and accepted in America in the 1920’s.
During this era it was very harsh being an African American in the south; murders, lynching’s and injustice ran rampant. African American’s in the north had
situations of racial discourse, but not as extreme as in the south.
Dubois was born in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1868. He migrated to the north at a young age. Over the years he tarried back and forth between the north and the south,
first being educated and then becoming an educator. I am certain that during his travels; he was exposed to some form of racism and ill treatment as a black man.
Dubois, who graduated from Harvard University, knew that blacks had more to contribute to America, than sharecropping. Dubois, was an opponent of another prominent
African American, Booker T. Washington, who held the position of being an “accommodationist”( Harlan, 1983). Dubois believed that a higher education would be the
African American man and woman’s passageway to the equality that they deserved and desired. Washington however was against African American’s participation in higher
education, literature and aesthetics. He believed it was futile in a white dominated society. It is no wonder that Washington would be deemed the spokesman for
African Americans, by a white community of governor’s and philanthropist, he was their ally. He would commonly be referred to by elite African American’s as an “Uncle
Tom”. Washington, was favored by whites as he touted that a vocational education would aid in, “keeping blacks “down on the farm” and in the trades (Harlan, 1983)”.
Dubois explained that the black man (and woman), struggled with an innate duality of a double consciousness, “It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness,
this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One
ever feels his two-ness, an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body (Dubois, 1903)”.
Specifically, in the “Criteria of Negro Art”, Dubois, is sharing that the African American man and woman may use their creativity as a way out and “With the growing
recognition of Negro artist in spite of the severe handicaps, one comforting thing is occurring to both white and black. They are whispering here is a way out
(Dubois, 1903)”.
Dubois, who lived and experienced the challenge of African American’s who are and have been stripped of their identities and having to acclimate to what was told to
them as the right way or the right thing to do, their actions and activities continually validated through the eyes of a ‘white world’. Dubois opened the minds of
many African American’s to do what Shakespeare states in his work, Hamlet, “this above all: to thine own self be true (Shakespeare, Hamlet)”.

To Thine Own Self Be True

Heya, Rhonda, The first thing that I notice is that you are writing a very lyrical narrative about W.e.B. DuBois, at least on Page One. However, the essay would be far
stronger if you began with an argument. With this argument, tell your readers how the THREE authors you have chosen answer one of the two prompt questions how they
conceptualized Black identity or reacted to modernity. With a strong thesis, specifically stated (2-3 sentences) then you have both a guideline from which to write
(you have to prove each of your points) and a focus that you can use to link each paragraph together. The argument serves to help you tie the material together into a
cohesive whole, both within the paragraph (why that specific material goes together int he paragraph, and why it advances the overall argument.) Without an argument,
the essay has little to no structure. It becomes “And then …. and then …. ” While you are clearly thinking about the relevance of DuBois to the issue of Black
identity, your essay only begins to draw the connections for the reader on page three. Even then, the connections are often inferred, not stated — and, in a paper,
the author should make those statements clear. People do not read texts the same way, so when you are arguign that they mean something, you need to be explicit about
what you think the meaning is. For example, on page three, you note that DuBois wrote that men and women many use creativioty as a way out. A way out of what? This is
a good example of a place where the argument needs to be completely stated. Technically, your essay is focusing on DuBois only, and the essay prompt required THREE
works. As well, the lack of an argument means that the essay never formally answers either of the prompt questions. I have highlighted issues with punctuation and
spelling (DuBois added the capital B to his name, by the way). Occasionally, I have highlighted awkward phrasing. Using “Shared” as a synonym for “wrote,” “argued,”
etc. is fine in casual communication, but it is not appropriate in a formal essay. To fix this essay and improve it, rewrite: use THREE texts, one from each week, as
stated in the instructions, and craft an argument that directly answers one of the questions.
One last point — remember, please, to use MLA citation style. That requires parenthetical citations using the author name and the page number, not the year.

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