“The Double-consciousness in the African-American”
Throughout the whole reading, I was confused about why do the black people always own the double consciousness and what are the reasons that cause their consciousness doubled. In the article called “Double Consciousness and the Veil,” Du Bois gives the main concept called “double consciousness,” which refer to the individual whose identity is divided into serval aspects and the identity are more than one. Also, they have internal conflict, which influenced by the subordinated group in their society. This makes the blacks difficult to develop a sense of self. This concept based on the background of the American culture that the blacks is placed in a dilemma in American society. In addition, Du Bois believed that African Americans lived in a society that was oppressive and devalued them as equals.
As Du Bois pointed out in his article, the blacks are the “seventh son,” and they are in the world which “yields him no true self-consciousness” (Du Bois 1903:131). This represents that the black person at the social low-end and they cannot own their thinking. The blacks, also an American, feels his twoness all the time through different thoughts, souls and so on. Double consciousness emerged from the psychological conflict state due to two different cultures and worldviews between and black and the white. This sense or consciousness “always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others” (Du Bois 1903:131)
Since the whites own the mainstream culture in America, the black person is always in the passive position. This is one of the main reasons that cause the black people’s double consciousness. The blacks are exploited economically and oppressed politically by white American. This type of double consciousness forced the blacks to view themselves from the perspective of both cultures. It is difficult for them to protect their African American subculture with their overall American identity. At the same time, the African-American culture encourages equality and dignity. Hence, the black person makes the unremitting efforts to achieve racial equality. On the one hand, the black person desires to identify white culture. On the other hand, the black people want to preserve black culture, so he must separate themselves from the white culture.
Double consciousness is still a very relevant concept in our society. Many people of all cultures would like to believe that we live in a post-racial society. However, there are still some inequalities and biases among the different cultures, races, and ethnic minorities. This stereotype is still hurting and making difficult for African Americans with double consciousness. For example, the African-American in the media always been the criminals, rappers or professional athletes. This gives the blacks the limited capacity to do other things. However, in contemporary social life, double consciousness provides the construction of the blacks’ cultural identity, which means this theory gives the blacks’ self-esteem and confidence that let them fight with the unfair treatments. This culture identity also offers the blacks the role identification of the survival of the American society.
Du Bois, W.E.B. (1903). The Double-Consciousness and the Veil. In C. Lemert (Eds.), Social Theory: The Multicultural, Global, and Classic Readings (pp.131-134). Philadelphia, PA: Westview.
Questions for discussion:
1. Do you think the phenomenon of double consciousness still exists in the African-American in nowadays?