Double Dominance And The Harlem Renaissance

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Since the beginning of slavery, African-Americans have come to face many adversities. Enslaved, oppressed, and dehumanized for years by white supremacy, black Americans have come to find themselves divided and alienated. Outraged by the treatment of whites American, many African-Americans turned to book learning, music, and art to engage themselves in a form of higher learning and cultural pride. The Harlem Renaissance was a time during the 20s when black culture was on an all time rise. During this time we see many changes happening in the black communities: music, art, literature expressing the black culture, thoughts, and struggles. Though this was a time of great pride for African-Americans, they also faced a new struggle of identity known as Double consciousness. W.E.B Du Bois a historically important black leader and writer during the Harlem Renaissance coined this term. During this time he contributed extensive effort for a common goal, which was the equality for all African-Americans. By coining the term double consciousness, he showed a dual self-perception that has been placed over people of color in a dominating white society where individuals refused to see them, as they were, both African and Americans. Instead, white society decided that African-Americans could only be seen through the lens of racial prejudice. African-Americans felt this alienation, but at the same time saw themselves as themselves, united with their own culture and traditions while immersing into American traditions. During this time we see many black poets assert this struggle of overcoming their double consciousness in poetry, however still expressing how white society was not ready to accept and allow them to reconcile these two identities.
The poem I, Too by Langston Hughes is one of many poems written during the Harlem Renascence that depicts a struggle of this double consciousness. The poem starts off by saying “ I, Too, sing America” symbolizing that black Americans too are here and have an important voice needing to be heard for unity in a white dominating society. The speaker continues to let us know that he is a black servant stating “ I am the darker brother/ they send in the kitchen when companies comes” (2-3).

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