In his publication, “The Souls of Black Folk,” Du Bois explores the idea of double consciousness. He describes the concept as feeling as though your identity is split into two parts, making it hard for an individual to have a single, unified identity. He discusses double consciousness in the context of race, explaining that since American Blacks have lived in a society where they are devalued, it has become so difficult for them to have a unified identity because they have learned to see themselves as “American” and separately, as “African American.”
This concept of double consciousness still applies today and goes beyond race. Immigrants are an example of a group of people who experience Du Bois’s idea of double consciousness. Immigrants who come to the US arrive from all different parts of the world and bring with them their own cultures, beliefs, languages, clothing, etc. These immigrants want to keep their cultural values and traditions but also want to identify as “American” and fit that role. The two identities are not unified and therefore the immigrant has to try and balance between the two conflicting and separate identities. Perhaps inside the house, the individual acts a certain way according to cultures from his homeland, and outside the house, that individual attempts to act in an all American way. This individual cannot possibly be who he truly is, because at the end of the day, who exactly IS he? He identifies both as an immigrant and now also separately, an American citizen. And no matter what these immigrants do to try and fit the role of “American,” most likely they will still be considered “others,” and therefore forced to live a dual life.