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W.E.B. Du Bois

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California State University, Dominguez Hills
Created: November 5, 2000
Latest update: November 5, 2001
E-Mail :jeannecurran@habermas.org.

Double-Consciousness

On Sunday, November 4, 2001, Marcus Pitts wrote:

Dubois covers various problems facing blacks in America as well as other countries abroad. Some problems include discrimination and a disparate social structure. These problems can manifest themselves through higher rates of crime, poverty, and substance abuse among black Americans as compared to white Americans..Yet even with these sad disparities between white and black America, blacks add uniquely to white America.

jeanne's comments

David Levering Lewis quoted "the promised land, was a cruel receding mirage for people of color." Even though some Blacks achieved economic prosperity in the U.S., that doesn't conceal the fact that the social environment for the majority of blacks differs from that of whites.These differences include moral standards,and economic conditions.

jeanne's comments
The quote can be found at p. 181 of Farganis, last paragraph, column 2. Scrupulous scholarship demands, Marcus, that we identify as completely as possible the source of our information so that others can go to our sources for their own re-interpretation. Cite the page and text, as well as the author.

Dubois adressed these issues by dividing them up into four parts; "the history of the Negro people in the city, their present condition considered as individuals, their condition as an organized social group, and their physical and social environment."

jeanne's comments
Again, even though you're not quoting, it's important to cite the source. It could take me fifteen minutes to hunt through Farganis to see what you're paraphrasing. And if you're citing from another text, I'll never know you did that extra work unless you cite it. Cite the page and text, as well as the author.

The history of the American Negro started with the brutal and evil institution of slavery which lasted for centuries.Yet even after the emancipation, there were mass numbers of illiterate poor blacks within the cities of America. For example, Philadelphia had maybe forty-five thousand blacks, and was considered "a city within a city."

jeanne's comments
Farganis, p. 183, column 2. It does not make your teacher happy when she has to hunt for sources.

There were slums which blacks inhabited in many cities. Crime rates rose because money wasn't available to feed families. Black men were prone to alcohol abuse to deal with stress.Yet despite most of the poor economy,there was a rise in well-to-do blacks as clerks, teachers, and professionals.

jeanne's comments
Cite the source. It does not make your teacher happy when she has to hunt for sources.

Yet I feel the most important aspect Dubois claims is his "two worlds within and without the veil," the white world inhabiting one side and a true self-consciousness on the other.

jeanne's comments
Cite the source. It does not make your teacher happy when she has to hunt for sources.

Dubois recollects an experience in childhood with a girl who refused his card in an exchange .It was then that Dubois knew he was different.

jeanne's comments
I know the story, so this makes sense to me. But I think you've made an intellectual leap here. Try that on some people that don't know the story and I don't think it will make sense to them, especially since we no longer use visiting cards.

The story is in Farganis on p. 187. You should cite that.

There was no true self-consciousness because there was only the looking at one's self through the eyes of others. There was always this twoness; an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts within one body.

Unfortunately, this could be related to my life as an American negro. Being of African American descent,I have roots which date back to slavery. Even though I never personally experienced it. However I remember my paternal grandfather who was an alcoholic. Since he was frequently unemployed because he was uneducated and faced racial discrimination, he and his family were poverty stricken. My grandparents' migration from Tennessee to a more robust Detroit, Michigan improved the chances of my grandfather'a finding work. Unfortunately he later died from complications from alcohol abuse.Yet my father was able to rise from poverty and racial discrimination to later become a doctor.

I can relate so well to the double-consciousness Dubois felt. I remember when I was a child and one of my classmates didn't give me a valentine card because she didn't want to be associated with "my kind." I learned early of the veil with two sides. Even to this day I struggle with this double conciousness.

On Monday, November 5, 2001, jeanne responded:

Good writing practice, Marcus. I'm sorry for all the comments above, but I wanted you to see them clearly. I really did have to hunt around Farganis to tell whether you were using the Readings or another book. Best not to confuse your teacher like that.

I particularly liked the way you finished your submission with your own feelings about double consciousness. That makes clear to me that you have internalized the concept and won't forget it.

And I also appreciated your summary of W.E.B. DuBois's ideas, as they are expressed in Farganis. Your rephrasing may help some of your classmates to clarify the concepts.

love and peace, jeanne