Hope Draped in Black: Race, Melancholy, and the Agony of Progress
Unreconciled Strivings: Du Bois, the Seduction of Optimism, and the Legacy of Sorrow
This chapter revisits W. E. B. Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk in the effort to draw out a relevant tension in the text. On the one hand, Du Bois seems to assimilate black strivings into a progressive, teleological narrative that finds its culmination in the civic nation and the ideals of freedom and democracy. On this reading, Du Bois follows a rather optimistic reading of Hegel’s related notions of reconciliation and mutual recognition. On the other hand, Du Bois suggests that the sorrow songs, one of the gifts of black people, indicates and expresses a legacy of agony,...