After the Egyptian and the Indian, the Greek and Roman, the Teuton and Mongolian, the Negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted with a second-sight in this American world--a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets 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 the eyes of others, 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; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder. W. E. B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk, 1903
Many people of color are denied what DuBois calls a true "self-consciousness" because the white society looks at them and their traditions with contempt.
Blacks therefore feel a divided sense of self, or a "double consciousness," with a loyalty to the valued world of their family and traditions, but also looking at themselves and their world through the eyes of white society. However, African Americans have a unique double consciousness because their history goes back to slavery, when they were considered property and viewed as animals. This veil DuBois mentions is a metaphor for the separation and invisibility of black life and existence in America and is a reoccurring theme in books about black life in America.
W.E.B Du Bois was one of the main figures of African American thought and an advocate against racial injustice. He devoted his life to the liberation of black people in America in both the political as well as social realm. DuBois addresses the topic of double consciousness...