Reflections on Du Bois' Double Consciousness


W.E.B. Du Bois' concept of double consciousness talks about the sense of two-ness that blacks from his day experienced. The concept goes:

"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."

But in contemporary times, more oppressed groups have been revealed in society, where some people are more than one type of minority. So with this knowledge, shouldn't Du Bois' double consciousness extend to the other feelings of oppression as well?

Take for example a gay, Asian-American man. He will not only see himself through the eyes of white people in America and through his eyes of being Asian but also through the eyes of a gay man. This would mean that he has a triple consciousness or three-ness. Another example would be a gay, African-American woman from the projects. She would be looking through the lens of five different groups.

The consciousness of the oppressed extends to more than two, and we have to view individuals as such. We cannot judge or dismiss someone for sharing and complaining about one of their controversial or unbelievable experiences. We do not know what they have been through, and we sure as hell are not walking in their shoes.

So when someone says that they experienced a hate crime because of their race and sexual preference, or when someone says that the government is treating their community of poor folks unjustly, we have to take their word for it because we do not have the same consciousness as they do. And if history has shown the unjust activities against them and their people in the past, it's more of a reason for us to believe them.

So don't judge people and their experiences.

1 comment: