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Du Bois' Double Consciousness in the African American Community

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W.E.B Du Bois was born Feb 23, 1868, Great Barrington, MA. He was an influential African American rights activists. One of the first African American sociologist, to earn a PH.D. from Harvard University in 1895. He mostly grew up in a white American neighborhood where he attended school, and was well respected. He not only researched racial identity but also looked at black and whites day to day lives. In 1896 the unviesrty of penssleivena hired Du Bois to do a survey on black communities in Philadelphia.

In his book called “The Philadelphia Negro” he explains some of his methods of inquary that he used to collect data from black communties. From there he went from door to door asking people different questions and observing. He used qualitative and quantitative research methods for this project. He focused on the 7th ward of philadelphia which was historically a black neighborhood. He documented everything from people of that neighborhood such as Age,Gender,Education,Crime rate etc. He then looked at the survey and compared it to the white neighborhoods of philadelphia to see how these two were different from each other. The results were no shocking black neighborhoods, were way behind in everything than the white ones. They had high rates of crime and poverty level was also high. They had low to zero health coverages.

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One of the hardest parts of these kind of research are, you want to make sure you get the accurate numbers to be able to support your claim. In the second chapter of his book it’s stated that “The student of these questions must first ask, What is the real condition of this group of human beings? Of whom is it composed, what sub-groups and classes exist, what sort of individuals are being considered ?Further, the student must clearly recognize that a complete study must not confine itself to the group, but must especially notice the environment; the physical environment of the city, sections and houses, the far mightier social environment the surrounding world of custom, wish, whim, and thought which envelops this group and powerfully influences its social development.” in these kind of studies, one must have to invest a good effort in order to achieve their goal. Du bois fought for African American’s rights and made his voice heard throughout the nation. His fight for equality and against racism was credited by many in the U.S.

He was one of those influencer that people looked up to and dependent upon. He later became a well known historian and sociologist. He was dedicated to helping his students through teaching and his experiences. He wanted his black students to be the leaders of their own race and work together. In one of his other books called “The souls of black folk” he talks about the discrimination and the hiden identity of African Americans. As a writer he thinks back on his life and can not separate himself from “what was then called the Negro problem, Even his consciousness is divided into two parts, becoming a double consciousness. He calls the experience generated by the color line “the Veil.” As a man living behind the Veil, part of his being is hidden. One part of his consciousness belongs to the human race, and the other consciousness is shrouded behind the Veil. Du Bois allows his readers to look behind the Veil, to share his pain and humiliation and to celebrate a world populated by heroes and by joy.” which means that it’s difficult to have one unified identity. It is hard for them to unify their black identity with their American identity. Double consciousness create problems within African American as a struggle to really understand their identity and how other white American perceive them.

“The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line.” These prophetic words tell the story of American slaves and their descendants who continue to search for freedom in America and throughout the world. The international dimensions of the color line are rooted in the economy and in the politics of a worldwide struggle.” meaning the fight for freedom will continue until we have ended racism not only in the U.S. but also throughout the world.

This long lost battle of African American struggle has to come to an end. African American throughout the U.S. history have been oppressed and treated terribly. Their rights have been violated to the point where they are still going through the cycle of “Double consciousness” and they have been ignored. Social media is getting things a little better but it’s not so effective because of our justice system. People are raising their voices through it. The American justice system is not meant to be for minorities group but only for the whites. Throughout Du bois’s life time he had always fought for the rights of African American. He is worldly appreciated by many and his books are read throughout the world.


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