“The problem of the 20th century is the problem of the color line,” wrote W.E.B. Du Bois in The Souls of Black Folk in 1903. Reality and events clearly validate the continuing accuracy of that observation. Racial conflict range from the Rodney King beating in Los Angeles to black-Jewish tensions in New York. Race is a feature of institutions and structures that insures that one group of people have less access to resources such as jobs, education, housing and health care and less access to intangibles such as self-confidence and self-esteem. Racial hierarchy promotes paranoia and division. The problem of the color line must be transcended if we are to realize the promise of genuine equality.
Recorded at Bowdoin College.
Cornel West is Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy at Harvard. He has been called “the preeminent African American intellectual of his generation.” With his preacher-like cadences and passionate delivery, he is much in demand as a speaker. Among his many books are Race Matters, The Rich and the Rest of Us and Black Prophetic Fire.