POLS 3017 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Double Consciousness, Asian Americans

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2 Sep 2016
Du Bois' notion of "double consciousness" is his best-known philosophical or conceptual contribution
-DU Bois is one of the founders of sociology in America
-There were two studies
Immigration - whether eastern and southern Europeans would become incorporated into
America and what not
Study of African-American life (especially in the south)
Europeans would look at the broader aspect industrialization had
-Du Bois talked about the "veil" which represented segregation
-Big concept is "double consciousness"
Du Bois was well known for his work
It was the sense of self from black Americans being conscious of how white Americans perceived
The white world is split by the veil and it results in a peculiar form of consciousness
The term originally referred to "the Negro….in this American world."
Progressives propose that whites need more double consciousness
Linda - white Americans are becoming more conscious of the different races and
cultures are coming into the country and thus are becoming more aware of how
others view them
Asian Americans might claim triple consciousness.
Du Bois - changing laws is second to changing hearts (SOULS)
Linda is on the same side (Alcove?)
She would point out that until 1965 segregation was legal and immigration was
Du Bois believes 14,15, and 16th amendments are necessary
Hardly any black people were voting despite the laws, but it was hard to enforce when
tax and tests were being applied to only black voters
Du Bois chap.1-3
1. What is "double consciousness" for black Americans? How does Du Bois suggest it can be
1. A shadow or dark cloud always there. The metaphors are important - in many of his
interactions with white people Du Bois notes the veil that would come down. It is not
just that black people are aware that white people are looking at them it is that the
views that the white people held were not very good and this led to a self-hatred or
internalizing stereotypes. Double consciousness would not be so debilitating if the views
and stereotypes were not so negative. One of the reasons reconstruction was such a
failure is because it left a racial antagonism amongst black and white. The double
consciousness fuels the racial antagonism which is bad for blacks but the country as a
whole as well. If it did not have aspects on social life and pay and other factors as well
and segregation is reinforced (it was legal/mandated) then double consciousness would
not exist. No segregation = no double consciousness. Eliminating the contradiction- you
can be black and American at the same time. For black people to become American they
should not have to give up being black.
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