The Souls of Black Folk and the Shame of the Dunn Verdict

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Of what value is the soul of an African American teenager? Today, in America, it seems like there is not an equality of souls, of human beings, especially when it comes to the lives of young African American men.

It is clearer and clearer that in the United States African American lives are not of equal value, especially in states with “Stand Your Ground” laws where a jury was unable to reach a verdict of murder in the shooting death of unarmed, 17-year-old African American Jordan Davis by Michael Dunn, who is white and who has a carry concealed permit.

The unequal value placed on different human beings, according to race, is not exactly new. I have been re-reading W.E.B. Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk for a class I am teaching, and it is staggering how contemporary his analysis is today.

“The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line,” said Du Bois in 1903.

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