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Du Bois Concept Of “Double Consciousness” Essay

It is one thing to be fully accepted in the society and another to struggle hard in order to gain cognizance due to one’s racial background. It is this feeling of alienation that prompted Du Bois, a sociologist to come up with the concept of ‘double consciousness’.

Being a Black-American himself, Du Bois attempted to comprehend and explore the psycho-social divisions that subsists in the American society through the double consciousness theory. It was evident that the African Americans attempted to fit in the social circles of the society that they lived in, and one that treated them with self pity and contempt.

Du Bois argues that this feeling of alienation from the social interaction leads to the division of one’s identity hence making it hard to achieve an unified identity (Karenga 501). This essay will therefore explore the concept of double consciousness and further establish its role in the contemporary society.

Du Bois describes the concept of double consciousness as a ‘two-ness’ in which the individual identifies himself as both an American and a negro. This feeling of double consciousness hence leads to psycho-social anxiety where the individual is forced to come to terms with the two social worlds entwined in one dark body.

The concept of ‘two-ness’ therefore means that the individual has two souls, think in two different manners and bear double warring ideals, all in one. The concept of double consciousness can further be described as having three manifestations. The first one is the power that the white stereotypes have on black people, including their thoughts and lives.

Secondly, the racial discrimination that alienates the black negroes from the mainstream of the society and finally, the internal divergence between being both an American and African at the same time. This raises the individual’s awareness of how others perceive him hence changing one’s identity to gain acceptance in the social interaction.

This leads to the individual’s self image being badly damaged due to the treatment accorded to him by the white people. The African-American hence perceives himself as an outcast in the social standing and struggles to gain acceptance hence shaping his future experience and culture.

Du Bois therefore presents the concept of double consciousness with various instances. In each instance, the negroes struggle to be accepted and overcome the barriers created by the white culture. Du Bois presents the struggle as an attempt to scrap the hideous crime of racism.

The concept of double consciousness can be explained in various ways, all of which portray the devastating effect that comes as a result of compromised identity. This ranges from the excruciating worry that an African-American parents experience when raising their children in a white society to the unsuccessful policies of segregation and the emergence of slums in various American cities.

The theoretical model of double consciousness highlights the concept of racism that is said to emphasize the feeling of double consciousness. This is due to the fact that most people become aware of what others think about them as a result of their racial background leading to a low self-esteem.

It is for this reason that Du Bois argues that racism attempts to divide people resulting to the African-Americans feeling prejudiced and stereotyped.

The overall implication of double consciousness is wrong as it breaches and violates the fundamental rights bestowed upon every citizen. Though many philosophers would like to argue that we currently live in a society that is free from racial segregation, the concept of double consciousness is still pertinent to the modern society.

This is because the contemporary society still presents several inequalities premised upon the racial background of an individual hence making it hard for the African-Americans to reunite their identities.

A good example is by the media portraying the blacks only as athletes, rappers or even criminals hence giving an impression to the white community that the blacks have no other social advancement. The blacks on the other hand perceive this limited paths as their only road to success in the competitive world.

This is just one of the many illustration that shapes the perception that the whites have on black people. It is also evident that most of the senior positions in the contemporary society are held by white executives with the blacks playing the role of handymen in most instances.

However, as Du Bois argues, it is possible to solve the dilemma posed by double consciousness. This can be achieved by separating the notion that there is a bio-genetically factor that determines the character of the person.

This helps the blacks to fit in the white society and enjoy all the rights and benefits accorded to the whites and yet still preserve their rich African cultures. The media should for instance stop selling images portraying the blacks as being irrelevant to the society and instead bring out the best in them.

By electing the first African-American president of United States serves as a stepping stone by the society to fully accept the blacks as being innately humans.

In conclusion, the concept of double consciousness plays a very important role in the society. Not only does it present the dilemma faced by the affected persons but also their struggle to be accepted and become what indeed they are not.

This hinders the society from putting into use the unique talents despite the racial backgrounds of the individuals in order to achieve a superior sense of personhood for all citizens.


Karenga, Maulana. Introduction to Black Studies, Los Angeles: University of Sankore Press, 2002. Print.

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Doyle, Eileen. "Du Bois Concept Of “Double Consciousness”." IvyPanda, 3 Apr. 2019,

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Doyle, Eileen. "Du Bois Concept Of “Double Consciousness”." IvyPanda (blog), April 3, 2019.


Doyle, Eileen. 2019. "Du Bois Concept Of “Double Consciousness”." IvyPanda (blog), April 3, 2019.


Doyle, E. (2019) 'Du Bois Concept Of “Double Consciousness”'. IvyPanda, 3 April.

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