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Double Consciousness: harmful--> critical social awareness? pathology-->empowerment?

Anne Dalke's picture

"the Negro is…born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight in this American world,—a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world. It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others, of measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his two-ness,—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder. The history of the American Negro is the history of this strife--this longing to attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self. In this merging he wishes neither of the older selves to be lost....He simply wishes to make it possible for a man to be both a Negro and an American without being cursed and spit upon by his fellows, without having the doors of opportunity closed roughly in his face"--W.E.B. DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk, 1903, pp. 2-3.

[African American philosophy professor George] Yancy incites his white students to "develop a form of double consciousness, one that enables them to see the world differently, and to see themselves differently through the experiences of black people and people of color....the strategy is to have [his] white students see the white world through...[black] eyes, a perspective that will challenge whiteness....Yancy wants white see their whiteness through the lenses of people of color in such a way that the privilege that they take for granted as part of their meritocracy could reveal itself to them as something unjustly bestowed.....he wants this be an epiphany that would remove the veil on the myths of whiteness"--Jean-Paul Konda Ntusi, "White Double Consciousness," Dissertation, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, 2015.