10 Dec 2013

Concepts of Race and Ethnicity: Double Consciousness

(W.E.B. Du Bois)
This week, we continue with the concepts of race and ethnicity. For this article, I will discuss W.E.B. Du Bois' concept of double-consciousness. This is one of the most important concepts as it will help you with becoming ecstatic. So take your time to digest it.

"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. One ever feels his two-ness,—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.
The history of the American Negro is the history of this strife — this longing to attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self. In this merging he wishes neither of the older selves to be lost. He does not wish to Africanize America, for America has too much to teach the world and Africa. He wouldn't bleach his Negro blood in a flood of white Americanism, for he knows that Negro blood has a message for the world. He simply wishes to make it possible for a man to be both a Negro and an American without being cursed and spit upon by his fellows, without having the doors of opportunity closed roughly in his face.” -- W.E.B. Du Bois, "Of Our Spiritual Strivings"
In W.E.B. Du Bois' essay, "Of Our Spiritual Strivings," from his book "The Souls of Black Folk," he describes the concept of double-consciousness, which is something that many minorities possess because it is the ability to view themselves (and their 'race') through the lens of the dominant group.

Even though many minorities realize that they are being viewed negatively, they refuse to conform because they are proud of their group, and thus themselves, and know that the oppressors are incorrect with their pre-judgment and stereotyping.

An example of double-consciousness


Every time that I go to the bank to deposit money (cash) for my small business, I know that there is a chance I will be stereotyped by certain bank-tellers. This is why I always try to include at least one cheque so that they don't think I'm laundering money and waste my time by asking me irrelevant questions (this is the minority understanding how the dominant group views him). If I didn't realize that I live outside of societal margins, I wouldn't be able to see the discriminatory images that society has created for myself and my 'race.'

If you want to learn more about Du Bois' "The Souls of Black Folk," you can click here to buy the book from Amazon.

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