Double Consciousness And Its Present State

984 words - 4 pages

On that viscerally vibrant Friday morning, in that urbanized oasis, a group of primarily Black and Hispanic students united at El Cerrito High School to discuss their parents and peers very real struggle to achieve the American dream. The stories of racism, oppression, gentrification, and deportation filled the classroom with the voices of varied languages and vernaculars, a majority of which felt caught between cultures and pulled away at the seams by opposing orientations. These fourteen and fifteen year olds spoke of parents requiring them to speak the language of a place they’ve never been, of teachers demanding a “Standard English” they’ve never been taught, of friends questioning their ...view middle of the document...

E.B Du Bois. From here on forward in this paper, it is apt to discuss this concept as “double consciousness”, the term coined by Du Bois in his 1903 book The Souls of Black Folk. He depicts this state of being as “a peculiar sensation… 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 2). From this definition came a deep examination of the both the discrepancies between social classes in America—with a concentrated emphasis along the “color lines” that were resulting in substantial racism and segregation—and the inability from African Americans to meet the expectations of the two cultures they existed within. To understand double consciousness further, I refer to scholar Vernon Andrews and his journal article, “Self-Reflection and the Reflected Self: American Double Consciousness and the Social (Psychological) Mirror”, in which he discusses the internal warring African Americans endure under the ideology of “Americaness”: “We are always at one and the same trying to imagine we fit ‘Americaness’ in the face of constant reminders by real (and imagined) others that we don’t quite fit in” (65-66). The opinions held by Wamba and Du Bois—and many other scholars, sociologists and psychologists—are based off of first hand experiences with the psychological trauma that acts of oppression and prejudice impart onto an individual. The outcome, a tangible fear and disgrace, is prominent in our past and present in our future.
Those feelings of “looking at one’s self through the eyes of others”, of a“ two-ness, —an American, a Negro”, of “two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body” (Du Bois 2) are not easily synthesized. As seen in Chestar Himes’s protest novel If He Hollers Let Him Go, protagonist Bob Jones, an African American living in southern...

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