Racial prejudice has been in existence within the United States and other parts of the world for the longest time. Despite the many efforts that have been applied to curb the vice, it still prevails. Direct racism turned into discrimination, and it would later transform to segregation, which is all too evident in the modern world. It is a pity that during this entire transition period of the American society, the black man has always been the victim of circumstances.
He has been branded different insulting names and placed at the very bottom of the social hierarchy through denial of freedom and opportunities for liberation. Dubois and Fanon express their sentiments about the issue, and their approach toward developing an understanding of the plight of the black man reveals the nature of the African-American man with respect to his consciousness.
Dubois paints a picture that depicts the black man as having double-consciousness, whereas Fanon claims that the black man has an experience of being a triple persona. To be a happy black man in the American society, one has to assume a passive character to the discriminating nature of the racial identity-sensitive society.
“To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor race in a land of dollars is the very bottom of hardships.” This paper looks into Dubois’s and Fanon’s sentiment on the issue of the black man in the American society, with a close focus on the differences and similarities of their sentiments about racial identity.
Similarities and differences
Dubois and Fanon share the sentiments that the black man is directly discriminated and segregated in the American society. From their accounts, it is apparent that being a black man in a society where the white people are the majority is a great task for the black man. Dubois reckons that the American world grants the black man the burden of existing in a relatively unfair world. Freedom for the black man is just, but a dream despite the many attempts, he has made before to liberate himself from the social problems in America.
Fanon concurs with this sentiment by asserting that the black man is not entirely part of the American society, but he has been trying to overcome social stereotypes against him. Both authors claim that the black man is viewed by his white counterparts as an inferior human being, who should strive to liberate himself into the white civilisation.
Dubois’s double-consciousness is a function of the double aims held by a black man. The first aim is to uphold the Western civilisation that is associated with being an American, and the second is retaining his cultural beliefs as a black man. Fanon’s triple persona ideology also highlights the two aims provided by Dubois. Fanon believes that the black man is oppressed because he is neither entirely American nor African.
Both authors also claim that no matter how hard the black man has tried to liberate himself from the social issues, he has failed. Failure has become commonplace for black men because the white people are not willing to provide the black man with a chance to become independent. Dubois asserts, “In vain do we cry to this our vastest social problem.”
He mentions the Ku-Klux Klan, which was one of the most violent groups against the blacks. Fanon, on the other hand, indicates that the mentality that the black man is intellectually deficient has been preached across the white society, and black people have been denied the chance to prove otherwise.
Very few black men have been given the chance to shine in the society. The few that have succeeded in life, their legacy is not celebrated by the whites. Fanon reveals that a third person’s consciousness in black men is a function of their bodies, and it is a negating issue.
One of the differences between Dubois’s double-consciousness and Fanon’s triple persona is the role of the physical characteristics of the black man. While Dubois claims that the black man’s plight is a function of his dilemma to become entirely American or African, Fanon introduces another view that reveals that being black in the American society is the main issue.
He reveals that there are even scientific researchers looking into developing medications to help the black people turn white. While both authors believe that black people are oppressed because of his culture, Fanon boldly reveals that the issues in the society are almost entirely caused by a man being black.
The American society is a difficult place to be for the black Americans. Racism, discrimination, and segregation have led to black men being subjected to different expectations of the white people. Dubois’s double consciousness indicates that the black man is torn between becoming a civilised American man and upholding his cultural values.
Fanon’s sentiments about racial identity through triple persona are similar to Dubois’s double-consciousness, but Fanon adds the concept of the third person. The main difference between the two concepts is the emphasis on physical appearance that Fanon uses.