Analysis of W.E.B. Du Bois' "Double Consciousness and the Veil"

Updated on February 13, 2018

Continuous Struggles and Inner Turmoil in Minorities

In “Double Consciousness and the Veil”, by W.E.B. Du Bois, the author explores the struggle for freedom and the path to prejudice that African Americans have taken in the United States up until 1903. He acknowledges that while progress has been made, society is still far from the equality he hopes to experience. Furthermore, Du Bois attempts to explain the inner struggle felt by African Americans attempting to fit into a Caucasian-dominated culture. I believe that Du Bois’ work, although it is about African Americans, could apply to any minority or discriminated-against group, specifically women.

Du Bois claims that although slavery is over, African Americans are still not full and equal citizens. African Americans are constantly faced with struggles to overcome and ideals to achieve: “The bright ideals of the past, – physical freedom, political power, the training of brains and the training of hands,– all these in turn have waxed and waned” (Du Bois 182). As each problem is resolved, a new one presents itself; for example, as soon as slavery was over, African Americans fought for the right to vote. Once they acquired voting rights and their situation did not change significantly, they felt the need to become as educated as possible. While each achievement brings them closer to their goal, it does not fully solve the problem of inequality. Du Bois believes it will be a continual battle until African Americans succeed on every level: “All these ideals must be melted and welded into one” (Du Bois 182). When African Americans are equally competent in every field as Caucasians, then they will be truly equal.

Although equality is the goal, Du Bois describes an inner turmoil felt among African Americans that causes them to be hesitant when attempting to attain the status equal to that of a Caucasian man. He claims that there is an identity struggle between the need to hold on to one’s African heritage and the wish to be considered a full American: “One ever feels his twoness, – an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two reconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body” (Du Bois 179). Rather than attempting to hold two conflicting identities at once, Du Bois hopes that one day, the African American and American labels can coexist peacefully: “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” (Du Bois 179). According to Du Bois, this would be the mark of true equality.

In addition to African Americans, there are many minorities today against who are discriminated. These include groups such as gays, non-Christians, the elderly, and women. Even though women are not technically a minority, they are not given the same opportunities as men and have to face many unnecessary hardships brought on by society. For example, the media negatively influences women by causing them to strive for an unrealistic, and oftentimes unhealthy, body image so that they will be “more valuable” to men. Not only does this strain the physical and emotional health of women, but it also materializes them and takes away part of their human dignity. This can cause women to have poor self esteem as they try fruitlessly to keep up with society’s standards. Du Bois’ theory of double-consciousness and inner turmoil in African Americans can be applied to women in this situation: “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” (Du Bois 179). Even though there is no quick fix to this discrimination and second-class treatment, we must attempt to slowly change society over time in order to create an accepting, friendly environment where all citizens feel equal and comfortable.


Works Cited

Du Bois, W.E.B. “Double Consciousness and the Veil.” The Souls of Black Folk. New York: Bantam, 1989.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • ReverieMarie profile imageAUTHOR

      ReverieMarie 

      4 years ago from Tuscaloosa, Alabama

      S Leretseh - Thank you for taking the time to read and comment! I appreciate hearing the views of other people and taking pieces of them to shape my own views. If I understand correctly, it seems that you are saying that everyone would be better off if they kept to groups of similar people, instead of trying to fit in with other groups. I do understand that this would be easier, however I feel that it would have a very negative effect in the long run. I would propose that allowing all kinds of people to have the same opportunities and criteria would spur further innovation, progress, and success than could be possible by keeping people in separate groups. On this vein, I do agree with you that some minorities have minority-exclusive groups, which I believe is almost as detrimental as majority-exclusive groups. To make progress, every voice needs to be heard and all kinds must feel welcome. I do not feel that this is a politically-sided view; rather my main philosophy is that we must do what is most efficient and successful, and I think that by having everyone work together, we can reach this goal faster than we could if we all remained separated by societal standards.

    • S Leretseh profile image

      S Leretseh 

      4 years ago

      After the Civil War and the complete emancipation of the Black race and all the way up until 1964, Black males in America DID NOT “suffer discrimination” in a pejorative sense. What they faced was a completely normal human condition called Historical Group Recognition (HGR). In other words, throughout human history male groups created their own status environments and reserved entry into these environments for members of their own male group (males racially, linguistically and religiously similar). Blacks also practiced HGR prior to 1964. Few examples: 1) all Negro- owned business typically only employed Blacks; 2) Negro baseball only employed Blacks; 3) Pullman Porters (96% Black); 4) Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (1925 to 1964), all Black leadership.

      Blacks were supposed to be a separate and a self-reliant people after the Civil War. The construct of human history dictated this reality. Instead, blacks chose compulsory integration - dependency and attachment. White Christian males, in what they believed was a great and magnificent magnanimous gesture in 1964...gave the black man his "DREAM"...his race-nullification law i.e. his compulsory integration rights into the status environments of white males - and with no QUID PRO QUO! WOW!

      As for women, all of human history demonstrates that males and females within a societal structure were separate. Males had created ALL societies in human history (females procreate) . The purpose for the creation of the society - a dictate of human nature- is to create a status environment for male group who created the society. This structure maintains stability for the society.

      The historical structure of a society was altered with civil rights laws ((specifically the 1964, 65 & 68 civil rights laws). All of human history tell America what constitutes a proper structure to a society...and America - thru its civil rights laws - is marching in the opposite direction.

      ReverieMarie, not surprised to see you're a college student espousing these views. Straight from the Democratic Party's integration - victimization - playbook. The DEMS playbook comes from the Dept. Of Education and its literature is insisted upon for schools who want to qualify for Gov't Guaranteed Student Loans.

      Blacks were NOT victims in America from 1865 to 1964 ... and neither were women (white or black). Indeed, American white females in 1960 had reached the highest standard of living ever achieved by a female "group." Their males (white Christian males) gave them his lifestyle. It is rapidly disappearing...

    • ReverieMarie profile imageAUTHOR

      ReverieMarie 

      5 years ago from Tuscaloosa, Alabama

      Thank you for your comment and thanks for reading! Du Bois' work was definitely interesting and brought to light many points that I may have known, but had not actively thought about.

    • RonElFran profile image

      Ronald E Franklin 

      5 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      Good insight that the double consciousness of which Du Bois spoke applies to any group forced to see themselves through the eyes of the majority culture. I enjoyed reading your analysis. Thanks.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, soapboxie.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://soapboxie.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)