Booker T Washington and W E B Du Bois Term Paper
- Length: 13 pages
- Sources: 13
- Subject: Government
- Type: Term Paper
- Paper: #13776646
Excerpt from Term Paper :
Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois present opposing representations of the diametrically opposed philosophies that came to define African-American culture in the United States during the upheaval of Reconstruction. Washington, in his autobiography Up From Slavery, advocates a sweeping reconciliation between former slaves and their former owners, believing that the most accessible path to securing rights for his people is paved with acquiescence and cooperation, rather than by forcible assertion. Du Bois, meanwhile, in The Souls of Black Folk, advocates an approach premised on the attainment of political power, an insistence on civil rights and, perhaps most importantly, the pursuit of higher education by young black men. Though both authors appear to strive for similar goals in their work, namely, the shedding of the last remnants of slavery from African-American culture, they are in strident opposition when it comes to the most productive means of achieving that goal. These sharply divergent opinions between two men with relatively similar backgrounds are indicative of the growing divide that faced a people struggling to establish an identity following generations of systematic oppression.
Washington's philosophy regarding race relations was fully enunciated during a famous speech given at the Atlanta Cotton States and International Exposition in 1895, in which he called on Blacks to join the workforce in whichever capacity was offered to them by White manufacturing interests while also accepting institutionalized segregation. Although many people, both black and white, were swept up in the initial groundswell of support for Washington's "Atlanta Compromise," it was left to leaders like Du Bois to take him to task for essentially trading basic civil rights for low-level opportunity and protection from violence. Du Bois attempts to represent the other, disproportionate aspect of African-American culture at the time that clamored for actual equality, despite the costs. He recognizes the immense importance that racial tensions will play in the upcoming years; proclaiming "the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color line" (Du Bois 40) while attempting to carefully play upon them to achieve his own goals. While recognizing that, in the short-term, compromise may be an attractive option, especially in the face of murderous lynch-mobs and corrupt local governments, Du Bois declared defiantly that he was unwilling to concede the future equality of his people. He held true to the conviction that although it would be very difficult, the only method of ensuring true equality among the races was the immediate procurement of the means necessary to achieve it. For Du Bois, political power and representation, civil rights, and higher education are absolutely necessary for a people struggling to shed the lasting bonds of slavery. While recognizing Washington's earnestness to accommodate and the apparent sincerity of his efforts, Du Bois deftly illustrates the inherent dangers in willfully discarding any opportunity for advancement, whether for the individual or for the race itself.
With the clear vision afforded by hindsight, it is clear today that Washington's unbounded optimism as to the accepting nature of white America was entirely unfounded. Though he stated that "no race that has anything to contribute to the markets of the world is long in any degree ostracized" (Washington 223), it would be another 70 years before the subject of true African-American equality was broached. His advocacy of voluntary servitude as a path to cultural acceptance undoubtedly played a role in this lengthy delay of the deliverance of civil rights. Du Bois would be proud, one can assume, that the final drive to secure equality was founded upon an insistence on equal political power and opportunity for higher education. Both authors came to represent a competing aspect of a diverging culture; however, we are glad today that the proponents of empowerment and equality won out over those who preferred subservience in exchange for protection.
3.) For a period spanning four tragic decades in Tuskegee, Alabama, the United States Public Health Service engaged in a clinical study of syphilis and the disease's effects when left untreated. Beginning in 1932, scientists working under the auspices of the federal government enrolled a total of 600 men, all of whom were poor sharecroppers of African-American descent, in a clinical trial designed to monitor syphilitic patients throughout the length of their illnesses. The trial's predominantly impoverished and illiterate subjects were provided free government health care, complimentary meals, and even burial insurance in exchange for their participation in the study. None of the trial's 600 participants, 399 of which were diagnosed with syphilis while the remaining 201 formed the disease-free control group, were informed that the study was focused on venereal disease and the men only enrolled in the study under the false premise of curing the affliction known colloquially as "bad blood." The doctor's supervising the Tuskegee Experiments never informed their subjects when they tested positive for syphilis, presenting grave ethical concerns for all involved. The participants of the study were not offered any treatment for the disease's symptoms throughout the 40-year trial, and even after penicillin was established as a common cure for syphilis in 1943, subjects were denied treatment specifically to preserve the clinicians' ability to monitor how syphilis ravages the human body when left untreated. At the time of the study's abrupt conclusion in 1972, 28 men had died of syphilis, 100 others had perished due to syphilis related complications, over 40 of the subject's wives had been infected and 19 children were exposed to the disease at birth.
While the Tuskegee Experiment officially came to a conclusion in 1972, after a whistleblower's overtures to the press resulted in the program's termination, its legacy lives on today in the form of lasting social, racial and medical ramifications. The racially biased motivations of the Tuskegee doctors, who identified the 600 African-American sharecroppers as especially susceptible to the government's use of misinformation and coercion, are repeatedly made evident throughout the study's tenure. Perhaps the most egregious of the injustices foisted upon Tuskegee's 600 victims was the U.S. Public Health Service's conscious decision to deny them access to penicillin after it was discovered to cure syphilis in 1943. The prevailing racial prejudices of the era, which viewed African-Americans as inherently inferior to Caucasians, undoubtedly inspired the Tuskegee doctors' stated rationale for willfully allowing their patients to languish and die of a preventable disease. In their official account of the experiment, researchers stated with frighteningly clinical detachment that "Negro" patients were considered expendable because "such individuals seemed to offer an unusual opportunity to study the untreated syphilitic patients from the beginning of the disease to the death of the infected person. An opportunity was also offered to compare the syphilitic process uninfluenced by modern treatment, with the results attained when treatment had been given" (Vonderlehr 261).
The tragedy of the Tuskegee Experiments also had serious ethical implications for the field of medical research, which underwent substantial reforms in the years following 1972. One of the most important concepts to emerge in the wake of Tuskegee is that of informed consent, an ideal which holds that doctors have ethical and moral obligation to fully inform their subjects of a study's parameters, including inherent risks and dangers, before commencing with any human-based research. While obtaining full consent from properly informed subjects was a practiced research method prior to Tuskegee, informed consent became federally mandated law in 1973, after the full complicity of doctors and government officials participating in Tuskegee was finally revealed. The federal government created the Office for Human Research Protections specifically to prevent another case of medically mandated mass murder from ever again occurring on American soil.
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