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Black Reformation Through Double Consciousness Essay

2048 words - 8 pages

Philosophical writer W.E.B. Du Bois provides a stimulating analysis of the importance of African American existence in a society that emphasizes white superiority and black inferiority. Du Bois introduces the idea of double consciousness, an ideology that defines African Americans seeking to reconcile two different cultures that create their modern identity. The application of this concept is important because discovering the identity of an oppressed and indoctrinated people, desperately attempting to bridge the gap between an elaborate African culture and American adaptation that desensitizes the race from heritage, creates a neutral standard of expression that is used to form a new coherent identity for the African American race at large. Du Bois asserts that in order to overcome the adversity of Black misrepresentation and the displacement of culture, the Black community must maintain awareness of two concepts highlighted as “The Veil” and “Double Consciousness”. This analysis seeks to explain these concepts and their relation to contemporary America, weighing its effects and measuring the overall outcome while providing insight to Du Bois’ solution for defining identity. Du Bois concepts propose that the identity of “Blacks” and “American” is contradictory, and as result forces the use of multiple contextual definitions to classify the Black race in America.
The first concept that will be analyzed is that of “the veil” in W.E.B Du Bois’ The Souls of Black Folks. Du Bois references an experience from his childhood where students of the schoolhouse practiced what can now be perceived as a secret Santa tradition. Students purchase cards for each other in the holiday season and exchange them with each other to express gratification and appreciation for on another. Du Bois states, “The exchange was merry til one girl, a tall newcomer, refused my card, - peremptorily, with a glance. Then it dawned upon me with a certain suddenness that I was different from the others… shut out from their world by a vast veil.” (Du Bois, 44). The veil becomes a representation of the plight of African Americans as serves a positive and negative purpose. Du Bois refers to the veil as “the second sight for African Americans” highlighting the veil as a blessing and a curse. The concept of the veil asserts three things.
First, the veil makes a reference to the darker phenotype of African Americans, which is a “physical demarcation” (Virginia.edu) that separates the race from whiteness. Darker skin complexion has a negative stereotype attached to it as society defines things of black color to be negative and things of white color to be positive. The first example of this can be recognized in religion as God is represented with white robes, doves, and other notable symbols. Often so, black is characterized by negative traits like representation of the devil, death, or symbols that are evil. A secondary example is referenced from an web article entitled...

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