September 17, 2016

How does it feel to be a problem, black America?

Written by Melissa Harris-Perry, MSNBC host, Presidential Endowed Professor Political Science at Wake Forest, and founding director of the Anna Julia Cooper Project on Gender, Race, and Politics in the South.

This article originally appeared on MSNBC.

In his turn of the century treatise, The Souls of Black Folk, W.E.B. Du Bois wrote,

“Between me and the other world there is ever an unasked question: unasked by some through feelings of delicacy; by others through the difficulty of rightly framing it. All, nevertheless, flutter round it. How does it feel to be a problem?”

Everyone has problems. It is the human condition. No amount of wealth. No racial privilege. No righteousness of purpose and action leads to a life without problems. Everyone has them.

But Du Bois was pointing to something different. Not just having problems, but being a problem. How does it feel to be a problem? To have your very body and the bodies of your children to be assume to be criminal, violent, malignant.

How does it feel to be trapped on the roof of your home as the flood waters rise and be called a refugee?

How does it feel to wear the symbol of your faith and be assumed to be a terrorist threat to your own nation?

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