Blog # 5 W.E.B. Du Bois

Du Bois was a very successful scholar who was the first African American to receive a PH.D from Harvard University. Despite this very large accomplishment he had noticed that his race set him apart from his classmates. He was treated differently on the basis of his skin color and quickly became to realize that his opportunities for advancement were significantly compromised because of something he didn’t even have control over. Du Bois had a very strong concern for the education of the black community as he felt that it was their duty to advance their education in order to rid themselves of the negative stereotypes and racial discrimination they were experiencing. Du Bois describes double-consciousness in which he says that African Americans are always looking at themselves through the eyes of others because they are constantly being judged on the color of their skin rather than their own personal potential. African Americans look at themselves as Americans and then as Negros, while the white population simply looks at themselves as Americans. Du Bois’s ideas can be compared to that of Marx. Marx discusses alienation and estrangement in the work place. Although African Americans seem to be alienated in everyday life and even though much progress has been made in American culture in terms of decreasing racial inequalities I am not so sure that it will ever be completely removed.

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4 responses to “Blog # 5 W.E.B. Du Bois

  1. He also talked about how whites lacked a double consciousness, which i thought was interesting. Whites never think about “being white” and what it means, while blacks are able to see it. He says it’s like an extra clairvoyance that blacks have.

  2. Great observation, K — being white in America is *normalized*, so the kind of tension that creates “double consciousness” isn’t there. However, it’s still possible to imagine contexts in which white people do actually think about being white, in contexts where they;re statistical minorities, and where the dominant norms don’t correspond to “white culture.”

    Other Americans may experience a similar “double consciousness,” the feeling of being American as well as identifying with another nation, their nation of birth or their ancestors’ homeland. It’s also interesting to think about how the double consciousness concept could be applied to different pairs of identities that are in tension.

  3. I think this idea of double consciousness is still relevant in todays society. Like professor Hala commented, sometimes people consider themselves as being part of two categories. Whenever I go on vacation out of the country and someone asks me where I’m from, I always have to stop and think about whether I should say I’m from New York or the United States. In certain circumstances it might be beneficial to say one thing over another. Using my example of being out of the country, a lot of times people have a preconceived notion about New Yorkers being rude, so depending on the situation I might not say I’m from New York. This relates to double consciousness because a person may hesitate to say where they’re from for fear of being judged on that, rather than their own personal potential.

  4. i agree with the second comment because, i find the fact that Du Bois talks about the ” whites lacking a double consciousness” very interesting because white people never think out side of the box and feel as if they do not belong in society or a certain community like Du Bois felt. i feel that it is a norm in society for whites to focus on others not being normal or fitting into the society around them rather than what image they portray in society. Du Bois’s theory is over all very interesting and raises a lot of questions when it comes to the society we live in today.

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