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DuBois’ and Tocqueville’s Perspective on Legacy of Slavery

The plight for equal rights for racial and ethnic minorities has been one of the most long-standing issue in the world history, with the history of slavery in the U.S. being one of the most atrocious crimes against humanity. Multiple scholars have contemplated the specified issue, voicing the opinions that often clashed. Among the most notable interpretations of democracy as it is seen through the prism of diversity and the legacy of slavery, one should mention DuBois’ and Tocqueville’s argument. Although the goals that DuBois and Tocqueville pursue in their writing on the nature of democracy and the legacy of slavery are quite different, DuBois addressing racism in the U.S., and Tocqueville pointing to the class disparities, both agree on the nature of racism and slavery, pointing out that institutionalized prejudices undermine it.

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Admittedly, there are multiple differences between the arguments that Tocqueville provides and the ideas that DuBois strives to convey. Namely, the latter emphasizes the role that the omnipotence of the majorityocratic community has played in the promotion of slavery and the reinforcement of its acceptability. Taking French colonies as an example, Tocqueville shifts the focus toward a different environment and a slightly different issue, which makes the argument skewed toward the emphasis on social inequality as the foundational problem (Milligan 98).

In turn, DuBois is unabashedly insistent in his promotion of discussion of the racism issue within American society. DuBois’ courage and insistence allow introducing the racial discourse into the socialist analysis, thus, incorporating another dimension into the issue at hand (Atay and Chen 164). Consequently, DuBois’ analysis of the legacy of slavery in the U.S. provides a broader assessment of the sociocultural factors, reinforcing the significance of fighting segregation as the direct legacy of slavery.

In turn, Tocqueville insists that the majority representing the needs of individuals is the direct effect of the perspective of a slave, which is a very debatable perspective, to say the least. In the environment, where slavery still affects the relationships between people of different races, and where racial prejudices are rampant, the majority is represented by the white population, which makes Tocqueville’s perspective quite reasonable. However, the described scenario does not imply democracy; in turn, in a democratic community, representation should suggest that the majority needs to be listened to when introducing a statewide policy (Morrow 64). Therefore, DuBois’ idea of integration and the promotion of diversity as the means of making the majority voice more representative of ethnic and racial minorities appears to be the most direct way of responding to the inequality created by the centuries of slavery.

Similarly to Tocqueville, DuBois addresses the notion of socialism, particularly, Marxism, and extending it to the concept of Communism by outlining the problems with the established perspective on democracy, thus, tracing the legacy of slavery in the U.S. and the resulting failure to promote social equality. Therefore, while not being supportive of Communism in its pure essence, both DuBois and Tocqueville appear to be quite lenient toward the notion of Marxism, particularly, some of its aspects as the method of driving the social discourse toward the analysis of the needs of the working class. Consequently, the plight of African American people becomes intertwined with the problem of class and the social discourse within the American community, which makes DuBois’ and Tocqueville’s perspectives on the legacy of slavery quite close.


Atay, Ahmet, and Yea-Wen Chen. Postcolonial Turn and Geopolitical Uncertainty: Transnational Critical Intercultural Communication Pedagogy. Rowman & Littlefield, 2020.

Milligan, Tony. The Next Democracy? The Possibility of Popular Control. Rowman & Littlefield, 2016.

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Morrow, Elizabeth. An Analysis of Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. CRC Press, 2017.

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