Sign in or register
for additional privileges

The Knotted Line

Evan Bissell, Author

You appear to be using an older verion of Internet Explorer. For the best experience please upgrade your IE version or switch to a another web browser.

1896: (Not) Always What It Seems

1896: Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court decision upholds the legality of “separate but equal” Jim Crow laws. Homer Plessy was chosen for the planned civil disobedience that would bring the case before the court because he was an African American man who could pass as white.

Actions for Self-Determination:
  • 1894: Demonstrating the construction of race, Mark Twain publishes "Pudd’nhead Wilson," a story about black and white babies switched at birth in Missouri. 
  • 1901: W.E.B Du Bois publishes the essay (later included in The Souls of Black Folk), "The Freedman’s Bureau," in which he states, “THE problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line.” After traveling to Warsaw, Poland, in 1949, he expands on this: “the race problem in which I was interested cut across lines of color and physique and belief and status and was a matter of cultural patterns, perverted teaching and human hate and prejudice, which reached all sorts of people and caused endless evil to all men."* Note: To view this citation, click 'Remove this header.'
Discussion Questions:
  • Have someone ever assumed you were a race, ethnicity or gender that you are not? What happened?
  • Imagine you woke up tomorrow morning a different race, ethnicity or gender. Without looking in the mirror or at yourself, how do you know?
  • Create your own calling card based on Adrian Piper's piece. Where would you use it, what does it focus on?
Additional Resources:
Comment on this page

Discussion of "1896: (Not) Always What It Seems"

Add your voice to this discussion.

Checking your signed in status ...

Previous page on path Inclusion/Exclusion (example power words: segregation, assimilation, racism, sovereignty...), page 12 of 38 Next page on path