W.E.B. DuBois Says it Better than Me

haiti-001In Architecture by Moonlight, I struggle to describe my fellow workers. Haitians work ethic is different from ours. I don’t wish to romanticize it, nor imply it’s lesser or greater. Although many find value in my descriptions, the third-world experts at Partners in Health objected that I was politically insensitive; they need to guard against their precious donors. Meanwhile, freewheeling critics in the twittersphere – thirsty for cyber blood and beholden to no one – lifted phrases out of context and stabbed me as a paternalistic neo-liberal. Since I offended, and was offended, from all sides, I figured I was doing a fair balancing act. Still, my descriptions fell short of what I wished to convey.

Fortunately, I camimages-1e upon a W. E. B DuBois’ passage of in The Gift of Black Folk:

“As a tropical product with a sensuous receptivity to the beauty of the world, he is not as easily reduced to be the mechanical draft-horse which the northern European laborer became. He…tended to work as the results pleased him and refused to work or sought to refuse when he did not find the spiritual returns adequate; thus he was easily accused of laziness and driven as a slave when in truth he brought to modern manual labor a renewed valuation of life.”

I am honored to be speaking at Howard University this Monday February 23, 2015. I am particularly glad to have come upon Mr. DuBois description before that event. If there is anywhere in America where the contributions of black labor should be most accurately represented, it is at Howard University.



About paulefallon

Greetings reader. I am a writer, architect, cyclist and father from Cambridge, MA. My primary blog, theawkwardpose.com is an archive of all my published writing. The title refers to a sequence of three yoga positions that increase focus and build strength by shifting the body’s center of gravity. The objective is balance without stability. My writing addresses opposing tension in our world, and my attempt to find balance through understanding that opposition. During 2015-2106 I am cycling through all 48 mainland United States and asking the question "How will we live tomorrow?" That journey is chronicled in a dedicated blog, www.howwillwelivetomorrw.com, that includes personal writing related to my adventure as well as others' responses to my question. Thank you for visiting.
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3 Responses to W.E.B. DuBois Says it Better than Me

  1. Joseph Gaken says:

    why does the phrase “speak truth to power” resonate with me re this backlash

  2. Tim says:

    Paul, I love reading your stuff.
    Thank you.

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