In one of its definitions, a veil is a fabric used to conceal, cover, or hide the real nature of a form or figure. It is often transparent but its presence is undeniable. In the case of the social world when connecting the idea of sustainability to the veil; it is clear that the veil hinders the possibility of such sustainability. When thinking about sustainability, how do we measure such an aspect? When thinking about the balance of economy, society, and the environment, we question whether such progress is possible. When defining balance in this context, we need to narrow down each subcontext of society, economy, and the environment to explain how each, need to be balanced internally, and then do play off of one another, creating this frame and template called sustainability.
Speaking specifically about society, I have never known of such internal sustainability in real life. The reason as to why this balance doesn’t exist internally is because there are division and disconnect present within it. This faction is fueled by the fear of diversity. In this context, diversity can be defined as the mixture and assortment of people from different backgrounds of all types, political, socioeconomic, racial, etc.
It is safe to say that there are factions represented by this veil that has been exercised for a lifetime and then some. The “Veil” in this context, meaning and representing the social division, for me, I am talking about specifically, among Americans, it symbolizes and explains the two sides divided mainly off of economic and social grounds. In reference to W.E.B Du Bois’s, book “Souls of Black Folk” which is a creative nonfiction piece of Du Bois’s life, we get to see what he calls the Veil of Race. This Veil, in turn, is the representation of the disconnect between communities of wealth and those of poverty. In specific context to American society, those two groups are usually labeled as, black and white, where white communities and individuals are wealthy, treated more humanely in society, and are valued more than the black community, and individual, who is usually apart of impoverished communities. This separation has been perpetuated with the deniability or inability to recognize that such structures exist.
To speak specifically about the location of both groups regarding Du Bois’s Veil, usually the poor and impoverished, are inside the Veil. Both incidentally and purposefully, people of color are typically within the Veil while, the wealthy, the rich and white are outside the Veil. Due to the location of both groups on either side of the Veil, it is important to identify that there isn’t an equal ignorance among the groups. Du Bois explains that those within the Veil also understand that of what is outside the Veil, it is at most obligatory since the national culture is geared toward that of the dominant group, that being the white and wealthy. This touches on the idea that Professor Amanda Roth introduced in her Philosophy of Women’s course here at SUNY Geneseo, which was that of a double knowledge or as Du Bois would put it a double consciousness. In using this concept of both a double and lack of knowledge we can explain these results, which we call a social structure. There is an understanding of systematic prosecution that has been attached to this symbolic Veil in which disables one group from crossing beyond the Veil, typically those within the Veil. Those who do eventually cross the Veil are despised from both counts, and this discourages any connections offered by either group. Coming alongside this discouragement is that of distrust as well. I believe as a person who has lived within the Veil, I am in fact fully aware of the earlier divides of class, humanity, and dignity, but besides that African Americans specifically hold a deep distrust. Historical events like slavery, which lasted for 300 years, some will argue is still occurring today in different forms like the mass incarceration, has stained the minds of the African American and left a trauma that has followed generations. African American people have had to deal with egregious acts brought upon them, acts that were driven from racism, prejudice, and superiority, practices which were strategically implemented into the infrastructure of our social, economic, and legislative system.
History courses like Black Lives Matter, a history credited course taught here at Suny Geneseo by Emilye Crosby, aided in unpacking all of the untold portions of United States history. And helps to explain the reasons behind instances like zoning, segregated housing, and how the influence of such strategies have impacted our modern world today. When we look at segregated neighborhoods origins of such instances were influenced by racist white landowners who, during times of segregation created restrictive covenants in order to keep African Americans out of certain areas. This worked because of things like white- only clauses which not only meant that people of color experience discrimination in public spaces, it also meant they faced discrimination when looking for housing as well. In cases where neighborhoods began to integrate, there would be mass migrations of white families from neighborhoods that were designated unstable because people of color now occupied certain areas. This migration became known as the white flight, and with this moving of communities, came the moving of resources, and with the lack of money being put into neighborhoods meant schools and other institutions as well had less funding and development.
When we look at Prince’s work, we can see that he is able to tell this story of constant persecution and misfortune taken on by the African American community. However Prince is also giving us hope, many of his pieces show the results as well as document past instances of racism, but he is also able to show the strength within never failing, he shows that the African American community through constant struggle is not willing to give up faith. And with such drive and faith, and passion, sustainability, and progress is possible. Progress being and working toward an equal and just world.
One-piece that expresses this sense of faith in the African American community is called Living Epistle apart of the collection called Urban Epistle. This piece depicts a young woman on her knees in what seems to be a place of worship. The woman has one hand in the air while the other is down at her side. Along her body down to her knees reads the quote, “I am a Living Epistle written not with ink but with the spirit of the living God no in tables of stone but in the fleshy tables of the heart.” This quote as Prince explained embodies the idea that African Americans are living in God’s name or by his name. With the strength of God and the act of praise and acceptance, African Americans have been able to do extraordinary things, because they pushed for their future and understood that their efforts were for the better of others and not themselves.
Taking this course has inspired me to push for not only my future but the future of others. And it has shown me that I do in fact have the strength to get past every obstacle that I may come in contact with. In order to cease in the repetition of history, we must be willing to learn from it and to be open to change, we must also learn to listen to one another and to bask in what we have accomplished but to understand that we have such a long way to go.