The Problem of the Twenty First Century is the Problem of the Color Line

Essay by ckelsey323University, Bachelor'sA+, December 2003

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In 1901 W.E.B. De Bois argued that the problem of the 20th century is the problem of the color line that divides individuals based on physical characteristics.In 1950, he reflects on the changing patterns during the first half of the century and discusses some of the progress that has been made in educational, political, and economic institutions as well as basic civil rights for those on the "other" side of the color line. Although society has come along way since 1901, the problem of the color line still persists in U.S. society. We have not broken the color line that De Bois speaks of and it can be said that the color line is the problem of the 21st century.

The color line is a socially constructed conceptual line that we use to sort people into groups based on common physical criteria that are deemed significant by society such as skin color, hair texture, and the shape of one's eyes.

This line creates advantages and disadvantages for the groups on either side. It's used as criteria for granting or denying opportunities and becomes a source of inequality. There are two sides on the color line: white and "other" and where one falls on this line has consequences for his or her life.

The color line creates a system of stratification where if you fall on the side "other" your access to opportunities is limited. A society in which minority groups systematically receive less of valued goods and services is one that is stratified. In the United States, minority group status, or being "the other," is powerful in determining access to wealth, income, prestige, power, and life chances. If one is on the white side of the color line, he or she is more likely to have higher income,