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Double Consciousness

  • Date Submitted: 10/16/2013 08:35 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 50.1 
  • Words: 1640
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Myself Versus Myself
“The Negro ever feels his two-ness—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings . . . two war- ring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.” This quote, by W.E.B Du Bois expresses his view on a term called double consciousness. Double consciousness, or the balance of two sets of beliefs and personalities, greatly affected the lives of most African Americans that attempted to be successful in the midst of bigotry and malevolence. Du Bois originally developed this term in 1897 when he wrote about the strivings of black people. It was further discussed in his book entitled The Souls of Black Folk. In the face of racism and discrimination, Du Bois felt that being black came with consequences. Hatred and violence flooded America and blacks were forced to constantly balance being an American and being a person of African descent. This, in turn, affected several different aspects of the lives of blacks—one of which was the struggle to be an individual. Double consciousness, in fact, made it difficult for blacks to stand out amongst others and be individuals without the fear of non-acceptance and failure.
Double consciousness forced a split in the personalities and identities of blacks. According to Du Bois, it created a “two-ness” within one person that had to balance their own identity, and the identity they felt was socially acceptable among white people. These two warring personalities often contradicted each other and caused confusion. The confusion came from being forced to identify with two different worlds—one in which they belong, and the other that they are trying to be accepted into. It became dangerous and sometimes damaging to the mental health of blacks. They often lived their entire lives looking at themselves through the eyes of others and trying to conform to what others wanted. According to the Georgian philosopher Merab Mamardashvili, this was defined as...

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