THE CLASSICAL GENERATION COMMITMENT TO JUSTICE:
THE AFRICANA THEORISTS—
FREDERICK DOUGLASS (1817?-1895), ANNA JULIA COOPER (1858-1964), IDA B. WELLS-BARNETT (1862-1931), W.E.B. DUBOIS (1868 -1963)
I. Overview and Background
A. Generations, Commitments and Paradigms
Emile Durkheim 1858-1917————————-
Anna Julia Cooper 1858-1964———————————–
Georg Simmel 1858-1918————————-
Jane Addams 1860-1935————————-
Charlotte Perkins Gilman 1860-1935————————-
Ida B. Wells-Barnett 1862-1931 ———-
George Herbert Mead 1863-1931 —————
Robert Ezra Park 1864-1944 — —————–
Max Weber 1864-1920————-
W.E.B. Du Bois 1868-1963——————-
Marianne Weber 1871-1954 ————————-
Commitment to Justice Commitment to Science
>Marx (1818-1883) and Engels
(1820-1895) Feminist Founding
Douglass (1817?-1895) Positivist
>Spencer (1820-1903) Interpretive Founding
>Jane Addams 1860-1935
>Charlotte Perkins Gilman 1860-1935
>Marianne Weber 1870-1954 >Anna Julia Cooper (1858-1964)
>Ida B. Wells Barnett (1862-1931)
>W.E.B. DuBois (1868-1963) Classical
>Durkheim (1858-1917) Classical
B. Central Problematic To describe, explain, critique, and change socially produced inequalities in people’s access to justice
1. What is “justice”? –two intertwined principles arise: (1) equal application of
Formal sanctions and (2) question of whether “equal” means “the same” or means “contextualized application of the principle of fairness”
C. Macro-Micro Background
1. Macro Shaping Events
a. slavery 1619-1863
b. Civil War 1861-1865
c. Reconstruction 1865-1877
d. Post-Reconstruction 1877-1964
a. lived experience of slavery–Douglass, Cooper, Wells-Barnett
b. extraordinary ability–intellectual and character
c. lived experience of being treated as “social problem” –all
d. belief that education was a way to agency
e. belief that participation in collective struggle is moral duty–
spokespersons for oppressed people
Revolutionary Change The Classic Generation African American Social Theorists Lived Experience
1.philosophic critique of religion by science 1. growth of social science as solution to society’s problems caused by industrialization 1 religion remains important to Africana experience, concerned to work out compatible relation between religion and science
2. .political revolutions, uprisings, birth of democracy, liberationist movements—abolition, women’s rights 2.expansion of liberationist movements–women, U.S. Civil War, black mobilization, socialism, unions; BUT also terrorism of Post-Reconstruction 2. major social activists—all forced to fight for rights in a racist society
3. flood of new technology 3. continued invention 3 two issues for them—recognition of invention by African Americans; effect of invention on African American workers
4. Industrial Revolution—most advanced in UK 4. Industrial Revolution
proceeds in US, Germany 4. racism makes it hard for African Americans to achieve equal position as workers
5. rapid migration to urban centers 5. immigration from Europe to US; African American movement North and into cities 5. concerned with problems of segregation in cities
6. classes of capitalism–new urban working classes; middle class entrepreneurs, factory owners, and intelligensia 6. race trumps class in African American experience 6.While some African Americans gain class positions outside working class, issue for these theorists is much more with race than class—though DuBois ends career as a Marxist
D. Major Works
Douglass, The Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass ed. by Philip S. Foner–multi-
The Autobiography of Frederick Douglass
Cooper, A Voice from the South (1892)
The Voice of Anna Julia Cooper ed. by Charles Lemert and Esme Bahn
Wells-Barnett, Southern Horrors (1892)
A Red Record (1895)
DuBois The Philadelphia Negro (1899)
The Souls of Black Folk (1902)
Black Reconstruction (1928)
[DuBois’s writings are enormous and this is just three places to start.]
II. Social Theory: What is to be observed and how is observation to be done?
MAJOR IDEA #1: Society and individual life experience is shaped by the power relation among groups.
A. group = the essential societal unit is the group, understood as individuals who share a common experience and identity within the stratification practices of a society in which
they are defined as “different” from other groups
1. difference = a social construction which categorizes individuals as members of a group in terms of some standard
2. relations among groups = the essential dynamic in society is the interaction
among such groups
a. individual’s fate seen as being tied to group
i. but individual contributes to the group; individual understood as
(b) intelligent–capable of cognitive problem solving
(d) possessed by “the singing something,” the capacity of the human individual to hold on to will, desire and aspiration even in the most repressive and degrading of circumstances.
“It is that ‘Something’–that Singing Something, which distinguished the first Man from the last ape, which in a subtle way tagged him with the picturesque Greek title anthropos, the upward face, and which justifies the claim to equality by birthright . . . ” (Cooper, Doctoral Dissertation Defense, 1925/1998: 292-293).
b. relations among groups are determined by power
B. power = the field on which relations among groups occurs, in which the key variable
is the intensity of super- and subordination, that is, the degree to which one group is able
consistently to control the outcomes of interaction
MAJOR IDEA # 2. The key methodological issue is to develop a way for the
subordinate group to study society critically.
A. standpoint of the oppressed–the claim that any full-fledged social analysis must include a critical description of society as it is experienced by the most exploited categories of people
B. Frederick Douglass “The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro,”Speech at Rochester New York, July 5, 1852
I was born amid such sights and scenes. To me the American slave trade is a terrible reality. When a child, my soul was often pierced with a sense of its horrors. I lived on Philpot Street, Fell=s Point, Baltimore, and have watched from the wharves the slave ships in the Basin, anchored from the shore, with their cargoes of human flesh, waiting for favorable winds to waft them down the Chesapeake. . . . . The flesh-mongers gather up their victims by dozens, and drive them, chained, to the general depot at Baltimore. When a sufficient number has been collected here, a ship is chartered for the purpose of conveying them to New Orleans. From the slave prison to the ship, they are usually driven in the darkness of night; for since the anti-slavery agitation, a certain caution is observed.
In the deep, still darkness of midnight, I have been often aroused by the dead, heavy footsteps, and the piteous cries of the chained gains that passed out door. The anguish of my boyish heart was intense; and I was often consoled, when speaking to my mistress in the morning, to hear her say that the custom was very wicked; that she hated to heart the rattle of the chains and the heart-rending cries.
B. history–the claim that social analysis from the standpoint of the oppressed must include an account of the society’s past as understood by the most exploited categories of people
C. critical cross-examination–the method of using the words of the exploiter (and dominant) class as evidence to show that that class is engaged in producing social injustice
D. accountability –the strategy of comparing people’s professed principles with their actual behavior toward the more exploited members of society
III. Social Theory: How does this theory lead Africana theorists to respond to the conditions of modernity in their own day?
MAJOR IDEA 3. Relations among different groups can be negotiated in two ways: healthily equilibrium or pathologically as domination.
A. equilibrium–the healthy relationship between power and difference in which groups are relatively equally empowered and the interaction among them is marked by negotiation rather than domination.
B. domination–the pathological relationship between power and difference inwhich the fact of difference is used to justify the exercise of absolute control by superordinates over subordinates
C. four power resources affect outcomes
1. access to material goods
2. control of ideas and definitions–ideology
3. control of interactional norms and behaviors–manners
4. passion or emotion
B. Douglass, “West India Emancipation,” speech delivered at Canandaigua, NY August 4, 1857
Let me give you a word of the philosophy of reform. The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims, have been born of earnest struggle. The conflict has been exciting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time being, putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing. If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.
This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress. In the light of these ideas, Negroes will be hunted at the North, and held and flogged at the South so long as they submit to those devilish outrages, and make no resistance, either moral or physical, Men may not get all they pay for in the world, but they must certainly pay for all they get. If we ever get free from the oppressions and wrongs heaped upon us, we must pay for their removal. We must do this by labor, by suffering, by sacrifice, and if needs be, by our lives and lives of others.
Hence, my friends, every mother who, like Margaret Garner, plunges a knife into the bosom of her infant to save it from the hell of our Christian Slavery, should be held and honored as a benefactress.
D. “the color line” = the structural relationship of domination by Anglo-Saxon class over persons of “color,” that is, the structural relationship of domination exercised in terms of differences in physical appearance–skin color– among groups; the problem of the twentieth century according to these theorists
MAJOR IDEA 4. Differences in power produce differences in consciousness in which the subordinate has more awareness than the dominant.
A. “the veil” = the cognitive consequence of the domination, in which subordinates are allowed and expected to look at the dominant world from its margins while dominants are free to ignore all activity in the world of subordinates
B. double consciousness–the subjective experience of subordinates in which they are forced to know themselves through the eyes of dominants
o lived experience of slavery- Douglass, cooper, wells- Barnett
o extraordinary ability- intellectual and character
o lived experience of being treated as “ social problem” – all share
o belief that education was a way to agency
o belief that participation in collective was a way to agency
o belief that participation in collective struggle is moral duty- spokespersons for oppressed people
overview of Africana social theory
– what is to be observed? Relations among groups created out of difference and competing in a field of power which shapes society and individual life and which may work as domination.
Group= the essential societal unit, understood as individuals who share a common experience and identity within the stratification practice of a society in which they are defined as “ different” from other groups
Difference= a social construction which categorized individuals as members of a group in terms of some standard
By this criteria, what are some modern day groups?
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