Week Three: Du Bois

Schwaan Rowell


My prior knowledge of who W.E.B. Du Bois was and his beliefs of African American progression was that education was the key. I noticed those same incorporated ideas within W.E.B. Du Bois final essay “Strivings of the Negro People”. Du Bois explores how the cultural food chain negates self-identity, progression, and self-acceptance in the African American community. Du Bois creates a timeline of events in response to his question in his opening paragraph, “…How does it feel to be a problem? I answer seldom a word”. He begins with a significant event that occurred in his childhood in which he realizes that African Americans were not considered equal to Caucasians. Du Bois ponders the idea that even as a young black boy he is sadly met with the reality of his “position”, he is below his white counterparts. He describes the event as, “…a certain suddenness that I was different from the others; or like, mayhap, in life and longing, but shut out from their world by a vast veil”. Blacks were outcasted by Whites, forced into watching the world that they too live in, from a distance. Du Bois believed this veil resulted in a damaging mental response in the African American Community. He describes this change in African American behavior as, “tasteless sycophancy, or into silent hatred of the pale world about them and mocking distrust of everything white…”. According to Du Bois, this separation either promoted extreme flattery for Whites in order to be accepted , which over time disintegrated self-identity. And on the other hand, the veil ignited a lifetime fire of anger. Du Bois explains how these perspectives merge into one creating a new lens. This new found lens is what Du Bois refers to as double-consciousness, he describes it as, “always looking at one’s self through  the eyes of others”.



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