Du Bois the Blogger?

Our discussion this morning got me wondering, if W.E.B. Du Bois were alive today would he be a blogger?  As we were discussing what makes a good blog post, it occurred to me that Du Bois’s editorials from The Crisis fit the criteria perfectly.  Du Bois often used provocative titles and clear, focused writing to draw the reader’s attention to difficult and controversial social, cultural, and political issues.  Moreover, through the NAACP publication, he challenged the mainstream media’s depictions of African Americans and presented his own ideas about the ways in which racial ideologies operated in American life and elsewhere.  Using The Crisis as his mouthpiece, Du Bois weighed in on issues large and small, influencing public discourse and providing an important counter to the white supremacist ideology of the period.

Here’s an example of one of Du Bois’s editorials.  It comes from the June 1912 issue of The Crisis (Vol. 4, No. 2) and addresses one of the “hot topics” of the time–miscegenation:

Decency

By a vote of 203 against 133, the German Reichstag has declared that marriages between Germans and native women in the colonies are legal.  This is a triumph of sheer decency.  It does not compel any German to marry a black or a brown woman.  If Germans do not want a mixed mulatto progeny they may let the native woman alone.  The law simply says that a marriage in fact is a marriage in law; that the virtue of a colored woman in the German colonies is to receive legal protection.

The simplest and barest demand of even half-civilized justice was not easily carried.  It took the strength of Socialists and Catholics, fighting against the strongholds of German culture–the liberals and the aristocracy.  Here were found the upholders of the dirtiest blot of modern white contact with backward races–the blot which makes the white Christian Church of the South to-day the strongest upholder of the system which denies all protection in law and custom to the helpless black girl before the lust of the white man.

The Crisis, March 1911

2 thoughts on “Du Bois the Blogger?

  1. Sure, why not? The idea of Du Bois as a blogger fits in with his role as a public intellectual. “The Crisis” would have been much more accessible than a lengthy book. Even “The Souls of Black Folk” is a compilation of smaller essays, similar to the way popular bloggers publish books comprised of previous posts.

  2. Certainly. Arguably, there’s no better way to exchange ideas than sharing them over the internet at this point in our history. Books and magazines sit in Barnes and Noble or Borders waiting for customers to pick them up, but they’ll sit there for a long time, and the ideas within them never spread. If Du Bois were alive today, the fastest, easiest way to reach masses of people would be on the internet. Du Bois lived in a time where people (educated people, that is) were more interested in picking up a book, newspaper, or magazine than today’s audience. Very few of the “public” has time anymore to read a book (“Souls of Black Folk,” for instance), much less interpret what it means. Blog posts that are short and to the point are the way to go these days. Otherwise, his ideas would be sitting on the top shelf in a bookstore and never heard from again.

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