The Problem of the 21st Century (About)
The problem of the 21st century is the problem of the invisible color line
Welcome to the color line. My name is Navid Farnia and Over the Line is my brainchild. The title stems from a column I wrote in college for my school newspaper, which went by the same name. I wanted to bring it back to life and this time, sustain it beyond its campus roots. Put simply, this site will be over the line.
The term “color line” was originally coined to describe the burgeoning problem of racial segregation in the post-Reconstruction era United States. It is likely that Frederick Douglass first penned it in his article “The Color Line” in 1881. However, most people who are familiar with the term attribute it to W.E.B. Du Bois. In his famous 1903 book, The Souls of Black Folk, Du Bois wrote: “The problem of the Twentieth century is the problem of the color-line.”
Over 100 years later, racial segregation is still a major issue in this country. But the backlash to the successes of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements in the 1950’s and 60’s has taken segregation and racism in general out of American discourse. We now live in a “colorblind” era, where any mention of racism is seen as detrimental to the so-called racial harmony. In our society’s colorblind state, core racial issues such as segregation, poverty, incarceration, police violence, war and colonization are relegated to the margins of our consciousness or erased altogether. In other words, the color line that Du Bois brought to light has been made invisible.
This is our 21st century problem. Our problem isn’t as simple as talking about racism. Rather, it starts with re-inserting the Race Problem into the collective national and international consciousness. Without this first step, we can’t possibly hope to tackle the persistent and worsening issues of segregation, poverty, state violence and U.S. aggression abroad. In fact, the myth of a colorblind society is exactly why these problems continue to expand and why the Race Problem itself grows.
This site attempts to write the Race Problem back into the news, significant current events and even into sports (a particular passion of mine). In a small way, Over the Line is a stab at interjecting race into important issues and public debates. Additionally, in order to avoid further dismissing other already marginalized matters, Over the Line also places gender, class, sexuality, empire and other modes of power at the center of the site’s mission.
In recognizing how all-encompassing oppression is, this site’s conception of the color line is also all-encompassing. Our color line sees the disease that is segregation as entirely related to poverty, miseducation/under-education, violence/war and colonization. And our color line has an international scope, examining important events across the globe from this imperial center. In this sense, Over the Line understands significant events transpiring in Asia or Africa as having a relationship with issues, policies and events here. Because the U.S. is the most powerful empire in world history, we cannot underestimate its influence in the global landscape and its interests in other countries’ affairs. Thus, a goal of this site is to blur the dividing distinction between “us” and “them” or “at home” and “abroad”.
Most importantly, blind agreement and false consensus are not among Over the Line‘s motives. Instead, this a collective effort between writers and readers to produce important debates that hopefully transcend this web space.
Welcome to Over the Line and feel free to make your opinions known through the comments section.