How does it feel to be a problem? Is what DuBois is analyzing through his piece of literature. Using Ross Posnock’s view as a lens, DuBois forms a structure of American civilization and life from a colored person’s view. Through DuBois’s book, we get his perspective that were existent through the time of segregation. In his sense, segregation is another term for separation. Segregation is the outstanding point that Dubois uses through his piece with Posnock’s piece as a lens. Even though DuBois talks about his personal experience and seeing it happen right in front of him, he describes how there was a sense and hope that there was going to be some sort of change. Instead, that change never occurred and the hope was lost. We learn the wrongdoings of people of color and we see that directly through DuBois and Posnock’s eyes. Both of these pieces of literature show the concern of someone or anyone being accepted into a society. Both pieces focus on segregation and the main issue of being accepted in different communities.
In W.E.B. DuBois’ book, The Souls of the Black Folk, he brings up the problem faced by colored people because of their race, or even their identity. DuBois starts by taking a new approach as to connect sociology; the study of how different people develop into their society, and history; studying our past. He emphasizes the new terms such as a person’s double consciousness and an outline to show the division and separation of certain individuals, especially colored people, and inequality because of race.
The first chapter in his book is called Of Our Spiritual Strivings. In this chapter, DuBois begins with a little story, a personal analysis about the characteristics of white people. Later on, he looks back on the moment where he first noticed he was different. He describes his experience when as a class project, visiting cards were being passed out. It was his turn to get one, and the girl giving them out refused to give him one because of his skin color. He knew that from that moment there was a dispute with whites and colored people. On page 7, it states how does it feel to be a problem? (Dubois, 3). From that question, DuBois knew that this was going to e a future issue, right from the incident he had in school with the refusal. This girl wouldn’t accept his card (even when it was part of a class project. From then on, he knew and recognized that because he was of a different color, he was different than everyone else.
He also goes on to talk about the inappropriate question that are asked by people who feel superior to others. On page 3, he states the question how does it feel to be a problem (DuBois, 3). This question is repeated multiple times to show how people think of themselves when compared to other people. This question also pertains to people in which they’re feeling left out of things and looked down upon as being different. The feelings DuBois brings up aren’t just feelings from colored people. He is emphasizing that they are also feelings from anyone that thinks of themselves as an outsider, due to being left out. For people of color, race is important to themselves. It all ahs to do with identity. This is shown on page 3, when Dubois says, the negro lives in a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world (DuBois, 3).
According to DuBois, colored people hold some sort of reflection that’s based on the thoughts that come from white people. He included examples like stereotypes and prejudice cases. He describes these examples as a veil that people of color are forced to hide behind. We see from his use of the veil that it shades the view of both colored people and white people. it is a peculiar sensation, this double consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others amused contempt or pity (DuBois, 3).
This gives us a clear picture that calls to the feelings, but also an expression of those feelings that many different people go through every single day, even until today. We learn that those who are different, are usually the ones being left out and banned from living the way they want because of their race, color, or situation they are in. Whether one is disabled, mentally ill, or of a different race, lower people like that are judged by society, whether theirs or another one.
While DuBois used colored people as the first issue in his piece, it can all be connected to today’s matters as well. Both DuBois and Posnock go further in detail about people having this double consciousness. This double consciousness is used as a division of different societies. It separates the individual and the society, against the remainder of that society. Both views form both authors gives us a mirror image of a colored person’s community.
DuBois states he felt his poverty; without a cent, without a home, without land, tools, or savings, he had entered into competition with rich, landed skilled people (DuBois, 8). Through this poverty, he connects to being poor following the hardships that come with it. It mirrors the brutality and cruelty people face in these types of situations.
In addition, Ross Posnock brought his own perspective on this based on DuBois. Following DuBois’ inappropriate question of feeling like a problem, Posnock adds is it traitorous for a negro to try to be as broadly and humane as possible? (Posnock, 22). Further on, he also adds a comment to DuBois’s view of people are grouped together based on their differences. He states:
Demanding respect for people as blacks and as gays requires that there are some scripts that go with begin an African American or having same-sex desires. There will be proper ways of being black and gay. There will be expectations to be met, demands to be made (Posnock, 25).
From this statement, we see that blacks and gays are grouped together as if they are the same issue. Today, may people would characterize them in a group, known as the others.
The shades of the prison-house closed round us all watch the streak of blue above (DuBois, 3). Sadly, this still holds true today. There has been so much attention given to incidents with officers and unarmed black people. Posnock, on page 27, also states that there are many race and sexual abuse cases where colored people are being blamed for most situations. He also talks about the division of a community and how you are separated based on situations.
Furthermore, both DuBois and Posnock show their views of segregation through their pieces of literature. DuBois starts off by describing his personal experience with feeling different. He starts to present the time where visiting cards were being given out, but someone refused to give it to him because of his color. He knew right from that start that people were going to start to judge colored people, or different people based on their situation.
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