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To put the point more precisely, and in an idiom that is familiar to contemporary philosophers, Du Bois holds that the same sorts of historical and social factors construct race both constitutively and causally.
The present section bears on Du Bois’s analysis of the Negro problem and his contributions to the philosophy of race.
Section 3, below, focuses on his contributions to the philosophy of the social sciences.
Du Bois attributes these failures to two causes: white racial prejudice towards Negroes and Negro cultural backwardness.
Racial prejudice is the conviction “that people of Negro blood should not be admitted into the group life of the nation no matter what their condition may be” (1898, 82).
In “The Study of the Negro Problems,” Du Bois predicates his analysis of Negro problems on his analysis of social problems ; in another early essay, “The Conservation of Races” (1897a), he similarly predicates his answer to the question, “What is a Negro?
” on an answer to a more fundamental question, “What is a race?
Dies in Accra, Ghana, August 27, on the eve of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
Roy Wilkins announces Du Bois’s death at the March, remarking “that at the dawn of the twentieth century his was the voice that was calling you to gather here today in this cause.
Sociology studies social phenomena, and the social phenomena that interest Du Bois are the cluster of social problems affecting American Negroes (the Negro is not a problem, in his view, although problems affect the Negro [see Gordon, 2000]).
In the perspective of sociology, the Negro problem Du Bois answers this question by defining a social problem as “the failure of an organized social group to realize its group ideals, through the inability to adapt a certain desired line of action to given conditions of life” (1898, 78).