“The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression.”
-W.E.B. Du Bois
One of the most influential civil rights activists and co founders of the NAACP, W.E.B Du Bois’s quote is a powerful one that still has as much meaning and relevance today as it did back then during his time when he first uttered these words. Both liberty and repression are costly but the price is right when it comes to spending it on liberty rather than repression.
Liberty is that state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behavior, or political views. If we break down this definition down a little further when we are in a state of being free we are in a particular condition in that moment of time. Nothing is holding us back in how we choose to live our life. Nor does anyone restrict us from what we believe in or behave so long as we do not break the law. In this case and for the purpose of today’s message we are in essence free. Does this come with a price? Yes but not as costly as when one is being repressed.
Repression is the action of subduing someone or something by force and in many ways suppressing ones thoughts or desires. When we are repressed something is always holding us back against our will. This what what W.E.B. Dubois and other Black Americans during the civil rights movement were faced with each and every day of their lives. Examples of this were but not limited to having to sit in a certain spot on the bus, using a specific water fountain or bathroom designated for colored people vs white people and being segregated for schooling. These restrictions were so unjust and unfair that although Blacks were supposed to be free thanks to theNorth winning the Civil War they really weren’t due to a certain clause within the 13th amendment that essentially says they are free until a “crime” had bee committed. The cost of repression was too steep of price for anyone to contend with.
The cost of liberty today is still and will forever will be less than that of repression. Today we still have a long way to go to making sure things are truly equitable for all races. We need to continue to build our social awareness through understanding societal and ethical norms of diverse cultures and backgrounds by ensuring that liberty is in fact being experienced by all and that the theory that people who do not fit into a certain mold are no longer being repressed. Differences are what make us beautiful and it is something that should forever be celebrated by all.
What does this quote mean to you and how can you apply today’s message towards becoming more socially aware?