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Of Our Spiritual Strivings - Dubois

SOCI350A Study Guide

Jessica Lee

on 22 February 2013

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Transcript of Of Our Spiritual Strivings - Dubois

"Of Our Spiritual Strivings" Double
Consciousness The "Veil" Journey to "Freedom" Conflict of having own identity vs. what he must conform to as
No true self-consciousness is given - not yet "white" but can't escape being "black"
Struggle between being the "subject" (person) and the "object" (property) metaphor used by Dubois to symbolize a distinct division between the White and the Black society that one cannot "cross" Escape route from slavery
First step towards equality with the White Americans
"Key to a promised land of sweeter beauty" (p.10) Strive for Political Power W.E.B. Dubois:
The Souls of Black Folk How does it
feel to be a
PROBLEM? " " "2 warring ideals in one dark body" This sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others [the white], of measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his two-ness, - an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings
- Dubois, p.8 " " "Shut out from their world by a vast veil. I had thereafter no desire to tear down that veil, to creep through"
- Dubois, p.8 The veil acts to "hide" and separate the stories of the black community -> Making the white community "immune" to the "black problems" and with their "silence/ignorance" justified. Emancipation 1863 BUT Long history still embedded in people's minds => blacks are no matter what, "inferior"
"Yet the swarthy spectre sits in its accustomed seat at the Nation's feast" (p. 10) The "veil" is something that can be removed but as stated, he has no motives to "tear down/ creep through" - act of accepting his inevitable fate Journey to "Freedom" Vain search for freedom that is like "a tantalizing will-o'-the-wisp" led to the idea of freedom lying in possessing power, and power fundamentally being within the practices of politics Fifteenth Amendment - enfranchisement - granted voting power Journey to "Freedom" Strive for Knowledge Within a decade, the dream of political power was replaced by the "ideal of book-learning" The curiosity, born of compulsory ignorance, to know and test the power of the cabalistic letters of the white man, the longing to know (p.11) " " To understand their prejudice, they must understand what the white man knows to be true. To change their lives, they must fight knowledge with knowledge. With Knowledge... social
degradation poverty ignorance bastardy The black man realizes his shadow of prejudice and his burdens -> which brings self-questioning, self-disparagement, lowering of ideals... He now possesses "clearer perception of the Negroes' social responsibilities and [...] realization of the meaning of progress" Sturm und Drang Individual subjectivity is free to express BUT all the ideals the black man strove for - "waxed and waned" WHY? Over-simple
All must be "welded into one" (p.13) (p.13) (p.13) Solution Dubois's hope for American democracy + racial reconciliation
Solution = both black and white's responsibility* Whites: change policies/attitudes surrounding this issue
Blacks: be active and take chances "Work, culture, liberty, - all these we need, not singly but together [...] the ideal of human brotherhood, gained through the unifying ideal of Race; the ideal of fostering and developing the traits and talents of the Negro, not in opposition [...] but rather in large conformity to the greater ideals of the American Republic" (p.13) Dialectical Materialism
- Hegel Thesis Antithesis Synthesis (The White) (The Black) (Racial Reconciliation + New Forms of Life?) Historical
Change!! How About the
"SHE"-Part of the Story? "He" - referred to as ordinary male slave
Lack of intersectionality of race + gender Experiences of African-American women in question Additionally.... Example: Asians in Vancouver Chinatown
Japanese Internment
These two are examples of
creating and perpetuating
the "double-consciousness"
and the "veil" to the Asian population. The Asians always had to think about the "other side" other than their own and they were treated with hostility because of their skin BUT they weren't accepted to cross identity to behave like the dominant "White" population - the veil was too heavy to lift leading to alienation Their identity crisis continues to exist... Canadian
History of
Asians The Asians, to begin with, were lured into Canada in the hopes of making a new life and new chances in the "Vast, free land" - in gold mines and in building the CPR. However, despite the promise of freedom, $1 a day of working etc., the Asians were denied the opportunities they sought. They become the new "Scapegoats" and "thieves of jobs" for the mainstream society - treating them as "inferiors" and putting them in the lowest ranks They had essentially no rights secured. eg. eg. Voting Rights of Asians in Canada Asians have been in Canada since the middle-late 19th century but were not granted voting rights until the end of WW2 (with Chinese Immigration Act also repealed)

This symbolizes their first movement towards holding power. eg. Asian Strive for Knowledge To "know and test the power of the cabalistic letters of the white man" the Asian population has strove for more and more knowledge - achieving higher education
Their population in universities = majority
Commonly known as "high achievers" Learning of the workings of Canadian society, the Asians find their reality - of the systematic prejudice towards them leading them to aim for progress, to make things change. An example is the incident of Maclean's "Too Asian" article and the movement it brought for an apology References Du Bois, William Edward Burghardt. The souls of black folk. Oxford University Press, USA, 2007. THANK YOU AND GOOD LUCK STUDYING! Overall...
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