Triple Consciousness and Afrofuturism by W.E.B. Dubois

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 Modern innovation has made the infusion of racial inclusivity and social media a complicated affair with underlying tensions. Social media when used has been a place for sensitive humor, radicalized defense, and to parade swagger. Simultaneously, this tool that has been disposed to culture through tablets, telephones, computers, and many other places has created a whole new world for inauthentic means of living; in particular in regards to African American culture. Furthermore, social media shapes society and fuels Duboisian concepts such as Triple Consciousness and Afrofuturism, in the overtone of racial inclusivity.

Marlo David uses the term new New Negro', to describe the Black individual of our generation that has so technology available to them, yet does not know how to take advantage of it. She writes, the new New Negro of the millennial age has sought to escape the shadow  that has been more real to him than his personality. David suggests that the whimsical nature that African Americans escape to social media networks to present themselves, only serves to shroud themselves from what their blackness is. Blackness rooted in the brutalization of systemic objectification of their bodies, minds, and expressions in diverse walks of life. These issues have consistently haunted the Black experience, and are found in The Souls of Black Folk, a literary jewel by W.E.B. Dubois. His prophetic piece confronted the Black individual then, yet resonates today in the infusion of social media in colloquial life. He says, How does it feel to be a problem? I seldom answer word  Being a problem is a strange experience peculiar even for one who has never been anything else, save perhaps in babyhood and in Europe. From Duboisian experience in the early 1900's to social media and the Black experience today, progress and obstacles persist.

In The Gifts of Black Folk, Dubois addresses the imperfect figurative shackles placed onto the minds of African Americans throughout history. He also addresses the imagery of African Americans in his work, A Small Nation of People. The analysis of Souls of Black Folk, The Gift of Black Folk, and A Small Nation of People, highlights how the infusion on technology in society has produced a Triple Consciousness for African American individuals. In light of these texts, it can be argued that social media must destroy the veil that has been lowered onto the faces of African Americans, shifting the focus instead, to the Black experience. Once the Black experience is expressed and better understood, colloquial implicit acts of discrimination and micro aggressions become clear; and a path to true freedom can be collectively built.

The tertiary element of Triple Consciousness is a veil personally placed on due to fear of self-embracing; caused by the underrepresentation of African Americans in media platforms, and a society that pushes conformity more than self-appreciation. Therefore, integrity and passions are drowned out by the unjust assimilation forced upon Black individuals by society, to change and adapt who one truly is. However, to truly understand Triple Consciousness, one must begin with concept of Double Consciousness; the separation of identities, being Black and American, an issue that has consistently persisted throughout history. According to Dubois, the feeling of twoness is essentially inescapable. He describes this element as having two thoughts, two souls, and to the extent of two distinct lives in one body; a body often looked down upon by society due to the color of its skin. Weighing the value of both opposing sides, Dubois attempts to design a way to coexist within a spiteful society. Through the analysis of this double identity, Dubois concludes that there will always be an internal conflict in the identities of African Americans. He says:

The negro is gifted with a second sight in his 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 eyes of the others, of measuring ones soul by the tale of a world that look on in amused contempt and pity. One never feels his twoness, an American a negro two souls two thoughts, two reconciled strivings two warring ideals in one dark body whose dogged strength keeps it from being torn asunder. 

Recognizing that as an African American both sides are vital to the growth of a just society, Dubois explains that as an American he has so much to teach the world and gain through American history, however, he would not dare to compromise his African soul in White Americanism. Throughout history, Black individuals have struggled to find their own in the United States. The clash of this double identity still persists; the feeling of Blackness and Americanism work more as a partnership and it seems to be an unavoidable part of the Black Experience. The infusion of post-modernity, Neo-Soul, Civil Rights, and diverse experiences added to the Black female and male is Triple Consciousness. Triple Consciousness is intensified when trying to figure out how to coexist in a predominant white society. The tertiary aspect occurs due to the additional veil put upon by succumbing to the pressure of social media to be a part of a universal narrative, which in turn, covers the power of one's personal narrative. Furthermore, in terms of technology and media, the veil is used to undermine the Black Experience, solely focusing on the African American a tool for entertainment. The idea of self-fulfillment and realization is negated in Triple Consciousness. As seen in the media's popular video funny services such as Vine, Twitter, and Snapchat. Where the African American person relegates their value to the entertainment factor that their body/language produces, instead of the capability or authentic vigor to be creative. Such divulgence is rooted in the painful history of slavery that rejected the African American from human status.

Moreover, another key point is that Triple Consciousness is driven by culture, a lack of embracing historical narrative, and imagery. In all of the presented works Dubois held close to his heart the African American individual. He acknowledged his privilege, yet through his travels and teaching opportunities, articulated the ugliness his race was often portrayed as. The mind and body of the black person was treated as second class, and Dubois was intentional to alleviate the gap. While his work in the academy eased said tension, his care for his race reached out to his own. He says, 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 better and truer self. The longing to understand self, lies at the root of an image issue, Dubois asks, how can Black folk exist in the American Dilemma and truly know what it means to be Black on colonized White soil, and in this merging, wishes neither of the older selves to be lost.

When Black folk attempted to make decisions and be themselves, Dubois called upon slavery in his other work, The Gift of black Folk. This piece concentrated on the unwritten and overlooked history of African Americans, and highlighted the contributions from African Americans to America. One of the gifts was the fighting spirit and soul that was overlooked yet began America. He writes about the three choices given to slaves: submit, fight, or run away from masters. He writes, The negro early learned a lesson which he may yet teach the modern world and which may prove his own crowning gift to America and the world: force begets force and you cannot in the end run away successfully from the world's problems. The image that White Americanism attempted to paint would be crafted by Dubois for the encouragement of the Black individual.  To that end, he redefines the fight of the Slaves as, a chance to prove that justice and self-interest sometimes go hand in hand. He continues, Force and flight might sometimes help when there was still the important method of co-operating with the best forces in order to keep them in order to prove that the negro was a valuable asset, not simply as a laborer. Duboisian though encouraged a shifting of the image of the Black individual to seek the positive in spite of the negative tension presented.

Due to its importance in modern life, the fusion of culture and technology not only to assists in perplexing task, but also in the basic daily moments of one's life. Technology has continued to develop and change at a rate where it is seen as necessary to be a part of the technological movement. Technological advancements have opened pathways of discussion for sexual, political, racial, and societal liberation and expression. Richard J. Neuhaus analyzes society as it relates to culture, religion, and public life. Furthermore, he writes on the association of postmodernity and culture. He says, (Media) will prevent secular Americans from learning about the beliefs, ideas, and motivations of large numbers of their fellow citizens. Media has become the tool for individuals to discuss their values, beliefs, and ideas. Journeying deeper into technology S.H. Hosseini suggests in their article regarding Religion and Media that, Technology is not a mere tool, but is an emergence and revelation. Particularly, technology allows for this revelation to occur. As a result, culture is dictated by modern technology, and it has created communities of people, allowing them to imagine and create an identity for themselves. Transitioning into Afrofuturism weaves race into the never-ending life of technology.

Duboisian criticism of culture and image deployment within social media encompasses a vast component of Afrofuturism. Afrofuturism is a term that argues a shift to a race-less reconciliation of embodied self for African American individuals. Marlo David writes, Afro-futurist thought posits a reconciliation between an imagined disembodies, identity free future and the embodied identity-specific past and present which can provide a critical link to express radical black subjectivity. The previously mentioned subjection of the African American individual in Dubois's The Gift of Black Folk is redefined in Afrofuturism as it highlights the African Americans unjust place in society, while also seeking to convey the power of the Black body. Afrofuturism removes the subjugation of the body to be present in places that often invalidated said presence. Connecting the racial and technological thinking, Theresa Senft and Safiya Noble suggest the narrative ways in social media create radical visibility, but also invisibility. They claim, While increased visibility for ethnic minorities remains high on the agenda for multiculturalism  invisibility has offered distinct advantages for Whites Consequently, race and racialization on the internet has served Afrofuturism as a critical thinking point for the consideration of the portrayal of the African American individual in the present and future.

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Triple Consciousness And Afrofuturism by W.E.B. Dubois. (2019, Dec 18). Retrieved November 30, 2023 , from

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