The And Do The Right Thing : An Evolution Of Double Consciousness Essay

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Recitatif and Do the Right Thing: An Evolution of Double-Consciousness

It doesn’t take long to figure out that race and ethnicity issues continue to affect America - a quick glance at the news will show the latest riot, hate crime, or police brutality incident. This centuries old struggle has given rise to a number of literary works on the topic, many of which take a different approach to the issue. W.E.B. Du Bois, for instance, published the work The Souls of Black Folk in 1903, arguing for blacks’ right to equality in a horrifically segregated society. In these essays, Du Bois coined the term “double-consciousness,” wherein those with black skin must view the world both from their own perspective, and from the perspective of the predominately white society. The short story Recitatif by Toni Morrison explores this concept through the removal of the characters’ races, and the film Do the Right Thing, directed by Spike Lee, tells a story to demonstrate it. While the former shows double-consciousness through the usage of ambiguity, the latter almost directly references the concept. Taken together, these two sources argue a multi-faceted version double-consciousness, wherein society alienates the characters in ways that go beyond just the color of one’s skin. Due to the intentional lack of race depictions in Recitatif, it serves as a good starting point for examining the various aspects of double-consciousness. For example, Twyla and Roberta, who are initially said to be
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