Woodson received his MA from the University of Chicago and PhD from Harvard. It’s hard for me not to like a guy who studied in Chicago, my home town, and lived in DC, my family’s adopted home. More than those ties, though, his writing is clear, incisive, and pointed. It’s hard to know where to start with this book, which was first published in 1933. It’s a fairly brief volume, just 139 pages in the copy that I read, but it is packed.
The Souls of Black Folk comes up over and over again in discussion. After reading it, I can see why. Du Bois was the first African American to earn a doctorate from Harvard and a co-founder of the NAACP. This book is a collection of essays published in 1903, a seminal work in African American scholarship.
Being White is a book that tries to open the eyes of white people to realize that they come from a very particular cultural context, and to challenge them to willingly displace themselves in relationships with others. The reason that this was my starting point is simple: white folk have a problem with being able to see the cultural context from which we come.