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When WEB Du Bois announced in his marvelous work Souls of Black Folk that the problem of the 20th Century is the color line immediately he set out a social and analytical paradigm that instantly recognized that the major racial problem in America was that existing between Blacks and Whites Nevertheless we are still at the end of the 20th Century struggling with the question of what kind of democratic society we are or whether we will be a democratic society at all often oblivious to the fact that the satisfactory resolution of Du Bois paradigm is the most critical element in the question In this respect what has not been fully grasped by the new radical conservatism is the notion that social justice and human rights never were disconnected communities of value within the framework of a larger political regime that they in fact define the very nature of democracy itself Democracy is not just the legal framework of the Constitution but the real relations among people governed by it So the critical objective in the process of Blacks seeking social justice has been to move from an exclusive notion of democracy based upon White dominance to one more perfect even than that envisioned by the founders When America was first defined the founders debated the issues involved in the character of democracy However the unchallenged and underlying reality was that the authoritative social structure and the effective citizenship of the nation would be White and male women having been excluded by custom most Blacks as slaves excluded by law and even so-called freed Blacks not considered to be citizens Native Americans of course not only were excluded but were on the chopping block of extermination From their position as the authoritative citizens Whites were able to erect institutions and to behave in ways that enforced their notions of social political and economic behavior Certainly groups such as
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