Black Americans are sometimes referred to as African Americans or Negros (Willis & Krauthamer 2012).. This term typically refers to an American ethnic group with partial or full ancestry of the black racial groups of Africa. The current black Americans are mostly descendants of the enslaved black people and constitute the third largest ethnic group in United States. Slavery of these Africans took place for until after 1865 civil war. Nevertheless, due to the white supremacy notion, the blacks were still treated as second-class citizens. This paper compares and contrasts the perspectives of Booker T. Washington and Dubois on the experience of the black Americans.
According to Washington (1895) the exposition has led to the Black Americans being given freedom. They should use their freedom and the rights that they have been given to help cement their relationship with the whites which will help at every stage of America’s progress. This opportunity that they are afforded will awaken a new error of industrial progress thus help eliminate ignorance and inexperience. He also says that the law of changeless justice binds the oppressor and the oppressed so they should work together; “since in all things that are purely social they are separate like fingers but should work together in all things essential to mutual progress.”
On the other hand Dubois (2008) points out that the black folks are enslaved and viewed as problems in the society. He feels that blacks are treated like lesser beings by the whites. He explains that at school the children of the white do not want to associate with them and they are shut out by the world from where they belong. He feels contempt that even though they can do better than the whites in other activities the treatment they are given is that of an outcast and strangers in their own land. They feel like they should do something for their country to be recognized but they are not given a chance hence they resort to sycophancy and silent hatred to everything white. They blacks feel the twoness in them an American and a Negro, two souls and unreconciled thoughts that are always warring.
Washington (1895) describes the role of African American in the future of America that they will participate fully in the progress and development of America. He says that if the blacks want to better their conditions they should cast down their buckets to making friends, agriculture, mechanics, in commerce, domestic service and other professions. They should not underestimate the importance of the southern white man who is their next door neighbor for it is in the south that the Negro is given a chance in commercial activities and the exposition expresses this chance so well. In addition he says that they should live by the productions of their hand and that they shall prosper depending on how they dignify common labor for it is from the bottom that their progress will begin to the top.
Moreover, Washington asserts that the blacks have built the best roads and also have the best music. Consequently they have greatly contributed to progress in America and in future will still play a critical role in America’s development. The contribution of blacks in building cities in America also show that through unity with the whites and equality, the African Americans will have a significant role to play in future progress of America (Washington, 1895).
Contrary to Washington, Dubois (2008) observes that the black race in America are disadvantaged. He illustrates that their strengths, skills, education and abilities have been overlooked by the whites who consider them to be nothing more than servants and cooks. Dubois further points out that the black folks are diseased and dying, they are not given good medical care. They cannot write, they have been infringed of their right to education. Moreover, the blacks at some time felt their voting was in vain thus denying them their political powers. Nevertheless, out of the bad things the Negros achieved some good. There were few adjustments of education to real life, clearer perception of their social responsibilities and thus they began to understand the meaning of progress.
Dubois and Washington agree or certain issues and disagree on others. Both Washington and Dubois illustrate that liberty is important for the blacks. They should be given freedom to education, voting and contribution in development. Both articles also note that the Black Americans are endowed with skills such as building railways and cities, labor required to till land and talents such as music which are jointly necessary for progress and future development of America. In addition, they both note that progress should come from constant and severe struggle by both races and not artificial forcing of one race or slavery.
According to Washington (1895), the Negros have already been granted liberty and working together with Americans while Dubois emphasizes that the African Americans need to arise and fight for their rights. Booker T observes that the African Americans should work with the whites to bring progress while Dubois mainly describes the challenges on the way to Canaan. He points out that the blacks have no opportunities because they are denied chances and rights to progress such as education which even if attained remain worthless because they are considered half men. Consequently while Dubois feels there is no hope for the Black Americans, Washington still holds that they have fundamental roles to play in the future and progress of America.
While both articles have meaning and reasonable arguments, I am inclined to agree with Washington’s opinion which strongly advocates for working together. While equality is very important unity should never be neglected for greater goals to be achieved (Willis & Krauthamer, 2012). Hard work and good relations by both African Americans and black Americans can lead to greater industrial and economic advancement. This will also help utilize forests, mines and all other resources thus enhancing sustainable development.