Let’s start with the term color line. The term color line was originally used as a reference to the racial segregation that existed in the United States after the abolition of slavery. An article by Frederick Douglass, the 19th century social reformer, orator, and writer, titled "The Color Line" was published in the North American Review in 1881. In that essay, Douglass writes, “Few evils are less accessible to the force of reason, or more tenacious of life and power, than a long-standing prejudice. It is a moral disorder, which creates the conditions necessary to its own existence, and fortifies itself by refusing all contradiction”
The struggle for equality has existed throughout history. The color of a person’s skin seems to depict everything about them. Not only was this an issue in earlier times, but the present as well. The battle to overcome inequity was made significantly more troublesome in the Plessy v. Ferguson case of 1896.
Knowing where your ancestors come from can sometimes be a difficult thing to handle and understand. If you have a notion of yourself before you receive actual news as to where your bloodlines reside, It shatters your previous thoughts and causes you to feel like an outsider. You begin to question your cultured norms and habitual daily tasks. After reading the story “Color Lines” by author Ralph Eubanks, I was able to take away that in the 1950’s and 1960’s, “…The American South was a place where the idea of race and identity determined who you were and your place in the world – You were either black or white.” Ralph talks in his story about how dangerous it was to be related to white people: severe . Severe social consequences awaited any black
It is not easy, and it is unpleasant, to adduce statistics evidencing the cultural superiority of White over Negro: but it is a fact that obtrudes, one that cannot be hidden by ever-so-busy egalitarians and anthropologists.”(4)
Imagine a world where prestige is evaluated by neither one’s character nor accomplishments, but predetermined by skin color. Visualize a world in which the nuances of skin color are used to sort and divide people amongst two factions: White or Black. Envision society segregated. Whites and Blacks tossed into two different worlds, as if mankind is a pile of dirty laundry which needs to be organized by color. The reality is this hypothetical world did in fact exist in the United States prior to the 1970s.
Historical archives discovered by Dorman show that colorism had tangible boundaries within the African American community during the 1920s (47). It is stated that blacks often divided themselves into four subcategories which consisted of “black”, “brown”, “light brown”, and “yellow” Negros (Dorman 47). The above ranking would be listed in a hierarchy from “black” being at the bottom of the socially accepted hierarchy to the “yellow negro” being the most revered and desired socially.
“The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color-line,-- the relation of the darker to the lighter races of men in Asia and Africa, in America and the islands of the sea” (W.E.B DuBois). This is part of the theme in the novel The Souls of Black Folk, which is based on an actual story/ autobiography of an African American leader, W.E.B DuBois. The narrator DuBois writes about race relations in the United Sates distributing the color-line. The color-line is the fundamental issue of racial conflict between the blacks and whites. It deals with the inequality and disparity of living in America as an African American.
Today the dominate etiquette around race is colorblindness. It has a strong moral appeal, for it laudably envisions an ideal world in which race is no longer relevant to how we perceive or treat each other. (77)
The author Du bois in chapter five “The meaning of the progress” points out the color-line. The color- line separates the white race from colored people. This is what Du Bois considers to be the greatest problem of the 20th Century. The color line exists both symbolically and figuratively as a divider that further separates the two groups of people. While these groups live in the same country with the same laws, they have completely different lives all because of their skin color differences. Blacks don’t have the same opportunities of success as the more
Even if slavery is not the presiding rule of the land on this planet any longer, segregation based on appearance still exists, just as the "social construction of ‘whiteness’ historically has implied the racial superiority of whites", and prompted the "separate but equal" doctrines of the late nineteenth century (Rundblad & Kivisto xxxi).
In his essay, “The Souls of the Black Folk” Du Bois (1903) states that “the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color-line,-the relation of the darker to lighter races of men in Asia and Africa, in America and the islands of the sea” (275). According to Appelrouth and Edles (2012: 269) “the color line is both a preexisting social and cultural structure and an internalized attitude”. In addition, they explain that the color line “addresses the historical and institutional (i.e., colonial) dimensions of race” (269).
Many are unaware of the effects that race has played in their lives over the years. Some may not understand its implications, but are very oblivious to it. Race can influence such things like attitude and behavior. Nowadays being white or black means something more than just a Crayola color. No longer are they just colors, they are races with their own rules and regulations. People of color have been inferior to the white race for centuries. In their own way Zora Neale Hurston shows this concept in her story “How it feels to be Colored Me” as does Richard Wright in his autobiographical sketch “The Ethics of Living Jim Crow”.
Du Bois used the basic concept of the color line to build upon when he created an analysis to identify the racism issues we have in this country. He tries to connect the problem of race, racial domination, and racial exploitation with the problems of the color line. He believed it was a 20 century world problem of the color line between an advanced race of white men and the great majority of undeveloped nations of mankind who happened to be brown or black. Du Bois addressed the differences of race and how it chiefly shows its differences with skin color and hair texture. These differences are used to shut out certain races that do not fit the standard mold of success.
The color line a phrase used by the W.E.B. Du Bois to describe a common problem in The United States. This metaphor explains in a very eloquent way of how skin color is often used to determine someone place in society. Often the legal systems represent the best example of this conundrum of the color line.