The Double Consciousness of African-Americans Envision that you live in a place where you feel like you belong there, but because on the outside you look different the majority resents you. The Souls of Black Folks by W.E.B. Du Bois written in 1903 consists of a collection of short essays that convey the important aspects of African-American history. Throughout the novel there are two main themes. One is that African-American’s lived and experienced moments from behind a veil, and the other is that they lived with a double consciousness. For the reader to fully understand these themes, Du Bois writes of situations, in every essay, that blacks had to endure that they are different. The first chapter provides the reader with a first hand experience of Du Bois when he found out in elementary school that he is different. In the second chapter he goes on to analyze this problem and he realizes that “ the problem of the twentieth Century is the problem of the Color line” (Du Bois, 13). The invisible line that separates the two races from each other and is primary reason for injustice. The third chapter is about Booker T. Washington who believed that the blacks need to focus more on education in order to be successful, and they should give up on political power, civil rights, and higher education (Du Bois, 44). Further into the novel Du Bois explains how the industrialization of America has changed the philosophy of wealth and that as demand for the work force increased the
Click here to unlock this and over one million essaysGet Access
The August 1897 issue of the Atlantic Monthly introduced Du Bois to a national audience when it published his article "The Striving of the Negro People”. He begins this article with what he calls “the unasked question” he continually encountered: “How does it feel to be a problem?” Meaning: how does it feel to be black in America after the end of the
The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B Dubois is a influential work in African American literature and is an American classic. In this book Dubois proposes that "the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color-line." His concepts of life behind the veil of race and the resulting "double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others," have become touchstones for thinking about race in America. In addition to these lasting concepts, Souls offers an evaluation of the progress of the races and the possibilities for future progress as the nation entered the twentieth century.
W.E.B. Du Bois, a prominent African American scholar in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, wrote many significant essays that challenged the dangerous societal view that black Americans weren’t capable of progress. In one of those essays, Strivings of the Negro People, he develops new terminology to discuss the many forces that act upon black Americans in a white dominated society, the most important of which is double-consciousness. The phrase, “double-consciousness”, refers to the division of the African American self into conflicting two facets: one being the American and the other the Negro, ever being forced to look at themselves through the eyes of a racist society.
W.E.B DuBois’ and Hegel’s concept of double consciousness implies that individuals, especially black people, look at their own identity from two perspectives: There is the perspective oneself has about one’s own identity and the conscious perspective of them, as black people, are being perceived by others. As a result, slaves failed to meet the set image and goal of white America simply because the image slaves had in their own eyes was predetermined and unaltera-ble. Jacobs’ explained this with the persistent view that the black male are inferior. Compliant to Douglass’ description on how
In The Souls of Black Folk, W.E.B DuBois pioneers two concepts that describe the Black experience in America— the notions of “the veil” and “double-consciousness.” The meaning and implication of these words not only describe the plight of being Black and American then, it also refers to what it means to still be Black and American today – the remnants of the past live on. DuBois explains the veil concept in reference to three things: the literal darker skin of Blacks, which is the physical demarcation of the difference from whiteness, white people’s lack of clarity in order to see Blacks as “true” Americans, and lastly Blacks’ lack of clarity to see themselves outside of what white America prescribes for them. The idea of double consciousness refers to the two-ness, caused by our nations flawed and polarized system, felt by many Blacks. I argue that although DuBois was the first to coin these two terms, it is clear through analyzing Uncle Tom’s Cabin and 12 Years a Slave that these two significant concepts gave a name to what African-Americans had been feeling for years but previously could not define.
In the W.E.B Dubois’s essay The Souls of Black Folk, Of Our Spiritual Strivings, he talks about many of his personal experiences of being an African American in the early 1900’s. Dubois develops 3 main central ideas that relate to his experiences. These central ideas are self-consciousness, double consciousness, and the ideal of human brother hood. In his essay he uses some textual evidence provided with some rhetoric and figurative language to prove his ideas.
The memoir “How It Feels to Be Colored Me” by Zora Neale Hurston, was first published in 1928, and recounts the situation of racial discrimination and prejudice at the time in the United States. The author was born into an all-black community, but was later sent to a boarding school in Jacksonville, where she experienced “race” for the first time. Hurston not only informs the reader how she managed to stay true to herself and her race, but also inspires the reader to abandon any form of racism in their life. Especially by including Humor, Imagery, and Metaphors, the author makes her message very clear: Everyone is equal.
African American individuals still faced inhumane discrimination and were often not looked at as people, let alone cared for or acknowledged. To anyone else, their opinions did not matter and their lives were not valued. The 1930?s was also a time in which America was being rebuilt after the detrimental effects of the Great Depression. Furthermore, there was a greater presence of African Americans in northern states, which brought about racial tension from powerful white figures who did not want African Americans in what they believed to be ?their cities?. The struggle to find jobs was present all over, and African Americans found it even more difficult to support themselves. The narrator faced all these obstacles throughout the course of this novel.
Through his work, “Of Our Spiritual Strivings,” W.E.B. Dubois takes the reader on a journey through the typical black man’s eyes. He creates a new meaning of the African American man as he shares personal experiences and stories of the past alike. He plays upon the heart strings of every reader, no matter the race, with his literary knowledge of words, use of pathos, and stories of his past experience to pull in emotional ties to his work. The application of dualism allows the reader, who is most commonly white men, to choose a side to sympathize with, for Dubois gives the sense of double consciousness as the African and the American throughout his entire work.
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.
Double consciousness is a concept proposed by W.E.B Du Bois in his book, “The Souls of Black Folk”. The concept of double consciousness illustrates the feeling that one does not have one identity as it has been split into, if not two then more, therefore making it a challenge for individuals to develop an identity which is true to the individual.
The Souls of Black Folk broadens the minds of the readers, and gives the reader a deeper understanding into the lives of people of African heritage. W.E.B. Du Bois articulates the true meaning of the problem of the color-line through his vast knowledge of American history and descriptive personal scenarios. Du Bois
The idea of double consciousness, termed by W.E.B. Du Bois, for African Americans deals with the notion that one’s self has duality in being black and American. It is the attempt to reconcile two cultures that make up the identity of black men and women. One can only see through the eyes of another. A veil exists in this idea, where one has limits in how he or she can see or be seen. This individual is invisible to the onlookers of the veil, and those onlookers may be invisible to the individual. This then alters how one can truly interpret their conscious. This concept is one that has been explored in various themes of literature,
According to W. E. B. Du Bois, activist and author of The Souls of Black Folks, “… the Negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight in this American world, —a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world (9).” This double-consciousness is present with in African American men and women. It is the result of always being reminded that you are Black before you are human, “It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity (Du Bois 9).” The Du Boisean theory of double-consciousness can be seen in Nella Larson’s Passing, “She was caught between two allegiances, different, yet the same. Herself. Her race. Race! The thing that bound and suffocated her. Whatever steps she took, or if she took none at all, something would be crushed (98);” Wallace Thurman’s The Blacker the Berry, “More accurately than ever before Emma Lou began to feel that her luscious black complexion was somewhat of a liability, and that her marked color variation from that of other people In her environment was a decided curse (1);”and Weldon Johnson’s