On Double Consciousness

On Double Consciousness -

On Double Consciousness

by W. E. B. DuBois

After the Egyptian and Indian, the Greek and Roman, the Teuton
and Mongolian, the Negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted
with second-sight in this American world,--a world which yields him no true
self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the
other world. 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. One
ever feels his twoness,--an American, a Negro; two warring souls, two thoughts,
two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged
strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.

The history of the American Negro is the history of this strife,--this longing
to attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and
truer self. ...


Excerpted from the chapter "Of Our Spiritual Strivings" in his book The
Souls of Black Folk.