The African American and Black Experience

351 words | 2 page(s)

The African American and Black experience in America is one filled with plight, struggle and oppression. These struggles were due to the color line described by DuBois in his novel The Souls of Black Folk. During the twentieth century, DuBois believed that the discrimination against blacks and the lack of resources for the black community nearly crippled blacks from becoming successful. While DuBois’ message of the color line in America was based on his observations on the lives Blacks in the twentieth century, his message still holds for the twenty-first century.

DuBois introduces two main concepts that describe the Black experience in America. The first, “double-consciousness,” describes how Blacks typically battle between two identities: (1) being Black and (2) being an American. Most importantly, DuBois describes how these identities were rarely connected by Blacks. Present day struggles do not necessarily suggest that Blacks still hold the idea of having two separate identities. In fact, current protests and movements of African Americans show that Blacks strongly view themselves not only as Black people but Americans who deserve equal treatment to their white counterparts.

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DuBois’ second concept, “the veil,” speaks of three main experiences as a Black in America. The first experience is the physical differences seen between skin color that is apparent on an everyday basis. Second, DuBois speaks of Whites lacking the ability to see Blacks as Americans. Last, DuBois points out that Blacks lack the ability to see themselves as anything other than how Whites classify Blacks. DuBois’ concept of “the veil” is one that makes the struggles of the color line in America most apparent. Each speech and protests conducted by Blacks speak on issues of apparent discrimination based on physical appearance and refusal to see the Black struggle. These two struggles force Blacks to see and live with this divide, which ultimately affects their ability to ignore how Blacks are viewed by whites. Because there is a refusal to accept and help change modern day racism, Blacks are continuously experiencing the same struggles of the color line.

  • DuBois, W.E.B. The Souls of Black Folk. Oxford University Press, 2007.

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