Theory to Be Researched: Race and Racism
The sociological theory of race is a body of multidisciplinary knowledge that links the existing racial discrimination to economic inequality and social, as well as cultural, barriers to change. Classical sociology suggests that racism is an inevitable component of the imperialist, racist social and economic order (Winant, 2000). Sociologists propose their ideas as to why the White society fails to integrate Blacks into its processes and decisions. Classical sociology proposes several solutions to the problem of racism in the western world.
Theorist: W.E.B. Du Bois
The works of W.E.B. Du Bois are central to the study of race theory in classical sociology. The Philadelphia Negro provides little value in terms of theory, but it can illustrate the complex relationships between race, economy, class differences, and other factors (Ritzer & Goodman, 2003). Du Bois’s theory of race was based on the concept of double consciousness. African Americans in the U.S. had their identity torn between the two competing realities – that of being a member of the predominantly White society and that of being an outsider (Ritzer & Goodman, 2003). Du Bois criticized American materialism and economic inequality, since he believed those were the main sources of racial discrimination in the United States (Ritzer & Goodman, 2003).
Du Bois also believed that Blacks faced a conflict of priorities. On the one hand, they had to integrate themselves into the White community. On the other hand, they had to preserve their African American identity (Ritzer & Goodman, 2003). Ultimately, Du Bois proposed the concept of Veil, which symbolized the wall between African Americans and Whites (Ritzer & Goodman, 2003). The theorist suggested that capitalism and exploitation were the direct prerequisites for the emergence and expansion of racial discrimination in the U.S. (Ritzer & Goodman, 2003). He believed that only by creating a Marxian system of economy, Blacks would finally achieve the desired standard of equality and justice (Ritzer & Goodman, 2003). All these concepts will help to understand the essence of Du Bois’s race theory in detail.
Application for Society
In many respects, the theory of race and racism proposed by W.E.B. Du Bois finds its reflection in present-day realities. However, many of the concepts proposed by the theorist have changed their surface and meaning. The Veil which Du Bois mentioned in his theory has become the glass ceiling, an invisible wall between African-Americans and Whites. The concept of double consciousness is also as relevant today as it was a century ago. Although racial segregation in the U.S. was outlawed, the mental, cultural, and normative barriers to integrating Blacks into the mainstream society continue to persist (McWhorter, 2003). Invisible, veiled discrimination is part of everyday realities in America. Nevertheless, not all aspects of Du Bois’s race theory are unquestionably valid.
Critical Thinking Evaluation
In my view, Du Bois’s commitment to Marxian principles and his hopes that socialism will bring a sense of relief to millions of Blacks are not justified. I do not believe in the power of economic equality. Nor do I think that it can alleviate the burden of racial discrimination in society. What I think is that African Americans should enjoy greater participation in the economy, which promises rich financial opportunities. They should be allowed to take leadership positions and move up the career ladder to break the existing veil or glass ceiling. Simultaneously, the double consciousness is likely to remain a significant challenge for the American society, until all cultural, linguistic, political, and economic barriers to racial equality are eliminated. Sociologists will have to revisit the key concepts of the classical race theory and develop new recommendations to minimize the scope of racial inequality in society.
- McWhorter, J.H. (2003). Double consciousness in Black America. CATO Policy Report, XXV(2), 13-15.
- Ritzer, G., & Goodman, D.J. (2003). Classical sociological theory. McGraw-Hill.
- Winant, H. (2000). Race and race theory. Annual Review of Sociology, 26, 169-185.