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Darkwater

W. E. B. Du Bois

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In The Souls of Black Folk the sociologist W. E. B. Du Bois introduced the concept of the “veil,” a separation of the inner lives of black Americans from their white counterparts. Darkwater: Voices from Within the Veil is a collection of essays, poems, and short fiction that attempts to provide a nuanced look behind the veil at the lives of black Americans and to give voice to their often neglected concerns.

Written in the aftermath of the First World War, seventeen years after The Souls of Black Folk and during a time when racial tension had been codified into the infamous Jim Crow laws, Du Bois touches on a wide range of topics, from the philosophical to the concrete. His over-arching message is a desire for equality. He argues strongly against colonialism, excessive materialism, and Jim Crow, and discusses how only proper education and universal suffrage can provide the foundation for a more fair society. The unique combination of different writing styles on display vividly captures both his frustration and his belief in the possibility of a future shared on an equal basis between people of all colors.

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