O. B. Du Bois ' Twoness And Paul Laurence Dunbar 's Commentary

752 Words Feb 27th, 2016 4 Pages
W.E.B. Du Bois’ Twoness and Paul Laurence Dunbar’s Commentary Du Bois’ twoness builds upon the conflicting duality of African-American self-consciousness. The African-American, wishing neither to Africanize America nor to Americanize his African heritage, meets at once a paralyzing physical barrier and a distorting lens in his stride toward bona fide societal embrace as an amalgam of both cultures. According to Du Bois, the most immediate effect of twoness is its psychological imposition of self-doubt, subsequently paralyzing the doubtful and uncertain African-American. The predominantly white American environment of the early 20th century conferred upon society its own paradigm of societal assessment. This paradigm, one which followed expressly from white values, placed black values in the distant periphery, if even in the picture at all. Thus, blacks were living in a world in which they were “always looking at [themselves] through the eyes of others. …” These unfamiliar lenses magnified the separation between Africanism and Americanism, portraying two unique yet not altogether irreconcilable cultures as mutually foreign and vastly dissimilar. Du Bois’ African-American, while committed to his personal reconciliation of Africanism and Americanism, sees, through society’s lens, the pronounced dichotomy of Africanism and Americanism. Indeed, to the white society at large, the two cultures are necessarily incompatible. Hence, the African-American, not knowing how to proceed…

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