April 24, 2013 at 2:37 pm #86146
In a recent reading of the effects upon African American roles in Engineering and Engineering Technology Keith V. Johnson and Elwood Watson present the views on education by both Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois. Washington believed “In order to accomplish [upward economic mobility] Blacks needed the right form of education…industrial [technical] education for achieving his goal of Black social improvement.” Alternately, DuBois “decided that the only way that African Americans could advance was through the leadership of the upper classes”, who had been educated with a greater emphasis on liberal arts.
With these views in mind, and in consideration of technical vs. liberal arts education, can it be argued that Washington, though often vilified for his accommodationist practices, was ultimately correct in his assessment of what type of education was more advantageous for African American economic advancement?April 24, 2013 at 2:44 pm #86149
My only question would be, why can’t both exist? Not everyone is technical and not everyone is into social science. However, Both must exist to better everyone. Someone has to work for Social Justice while someone else has to work on economic justice. I don’t find them to be mutually exclusive things.
I think we as a people would be better off if we existed more in the “Both/And” and less in the “Either/Or”April 24, 2013 at 4:58 pm #86161
How about neither?April 24, 2013 at 5:09 pm #86162
I’ll rephrase then. Relative to the current state of employment, with an added acknowledgement of the failure of both the so-called African American leadership to lead and a liberal arts education to either secure gainful employment or create dynamic entrepreneurs could we reasonably conclude that Washington’s focus, on what we would now call technical (STEM) education, was in fact justified rather than misplaced?April 25, 2013 at 6:35 pm #86314
I think we as a people would be better off if we existed more in the “Both/And” and less in the “Either/Or”
I basically agree. I said “How about neither” because I don’t think either one of those men are the very best touchstones when it comes to what we should do as a people. It may be due to the time period in which Washington was active, but he didn’t really advocate “STEM” in any sort of comprehensive way. He advocated education in skilled crafts, and worse, he advocated not competing with whites. On the other hand, Du Bois advocated a political agenda, but only to the benefit of a small percentage of the black population. He was an elitist to the point of being a supporter of eugenics.April 25, 2013 at 11:16 pm #86332
Valid…..April 26, 2013 at 12:05 am #86333
I don’t think you can really apply what either of the men were saying to today because they were living in a very different time under very different conditions.
From my comfy position here in the twenty-first century, I find some of Booker T. Washington’s ideas and actions (there’s a reason Du Bois and others hated Washington after a while) very problematic. But at the same time, he was a black man living in the South during one of our most shameful periods. He had to negotiate an incredibly narrow tightrope while trying to help so many who desperately needed help. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been. It’s true, as Plantsmantx pointed out, that Washington was not actually about STEM stuff, though his school did actually train folks in applied science and math even though he told white folks the school wasn’t about that. His statements must be weighed with all of that in mind.
As for Du Bois, though I think he wrote landmark work in sociology and history largely ignored by white historians until fairly recently, he was definitely an elitist, as were many of the people with whom he socialized. Yet he also was living under what I consider to be a terrible situation as well. He should have been considered an academic genius by American society during his life. Some of his work on historiography is really remarkable, yet white American intellectuals largely treated him in a condescending, patronizing manner, if they acknowledged him at all. I do not think it is accurate to say that he supported eugenics, though, only in that when we say that today it carries different connotations than it used to. Du Bois definitely did not agree with many of the abhorrent ideas which came out of the movement, clearly seeing much of it was racist because he himself was treated as a lesser being by a lot of the progressive white academics who supported the eugenics movement. He just believed that people were born with certain types of talents, and thus, if you wanted to make super smart people, then smart people should be encouraged to mate with each other to make super babies. It’s clearly an elitist point of view, but he was not nearly as bad as many of his white counterparts who supported the sterilization part of the eugenics movement because he felt, to use a modern saying, the world always needs ditch diggers, too.April 26, 2013 at 1:13 pm #86373
I agree w/ previous comments. It’s not a matter of either/or…. I prefer both…
Personally i think the argument itself is a product of a reductive mindset… Trying to simplify a complex issue
Why not encourage EDUCATION in all fields…. we as a community are too diverse to continue this kind of reductive, one size thinking.April 26, 2013 at 1:38 pm #86389
I enjoyed your perspective regarding the difficulty that both Washington and DuBois came up against. Though I don’t agree with the view that because they lived in a different time that their statements or perspectives can’t be viewed as having valid application to current times. Dubois spoke of the “veil” and “double-consciousness” which Black people had to endure and use as coping mechanisms against the overt racism and hostility they faced. I believe the double-conscience is still very present today and used as a way to code-switch between interactions with different cultures; and I believe it’s there because some still believe that acceptance of our humanity is only possible through normalized behavior that reflects so-called majority and/or “model-minority” behaviors. That is really infuriating and hopefully becoming less of a belief.
I have to read more of Washington’s writings to competently comment on his relevance to educational guidance today, however trades, which have been de-emphasized,(and in many cases, like here in Chicago, made almost the exclusive domain of Whites), in the Black community have a place of real value.April 26, 2013 at 4:42 pm #86407
Can I go off the board and say Marcus Garvey? I would go with the both leaders as they shaped the direction of African-American culture, but if I had to pick one, I would go with DuBois because his liberal arts direction. Washington wanted education to be an usable one (skilled work) which would ingratiate African-Americans to southern white culture. He saw African-Americans in a service oriented occupation to help themselves and communities through economics. Dubois’ direction was for African-Americans to think for themselves and create institutions. DuBois believed that America, as an institution, needed radical changes, and critical voices were necessary. It’s a Michael Jackson vs Prince debate. Both were essential.May 18, 2013 at 7:37 pm #88492
both/andMay 28, 2013 at 5:45 pm #89153
Why both/and ?
What informs this opinion?May 28, 2013 at 5:55 pm #89154
Here is an even better comparison Toure’ or Thomas Chatterton Williams…..both men embraced Hip Hop from privileged environments (not wealthy) but ultimately Toure’ embraces a lot of Hip Hop’s esthetics, mannerisms, and ethos while Chatterton Williams rejects these see http://www.amazon.com/Losing-My-Cool-Literature-Escape/dp/0143119621/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1369778058&sr=8-1&keywords=thomas+chatterton+williams” title=”Losing My Cool”June 4, 2013 at 5:10 am #89690
Just a quick weigh in as this post may not articulate my thoughts after a day of processing. The question Washington or DuBois is esentially questioning ones status of citizenship. Simply put Washington did not rally for vocational education, he saught to ensure modern era serfdom within a system of apartheid. His main concern was to avoid upsetting the status quo of racial exploitation. In short Washington, parroted Gen. Armstrongs’ Hampton model of education
The Hampton Model advocated for second class citizenship in that sufferage was not important to Washington Anderson sums up this point better here on page 1 and 2
Washington’s ideology was on display in his Atlanta Compromise speech, read it here
In the modern era, Washington was an anachronism, Paul Cuffe-like in short. I write this as a person who attended Hampton and as a person who values his rights of citizenship.
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