Double consciousness is a concept that I was aware of as a child; but to be honest, I didn’t pay much attention to it. I lived in an upscale neighborhood in Washington, DC. My father was a scientist and professor. My mother was also a professor; however, she resigned when she married my father to fulfill the duties of wife and become a mother. Being from the world of academia, I was surrounded by multi-cultures. My childhood in DC was as ideal as one could imagine; and then, I moved to rural Virginia where I learned what it meant to be black in America.
Racism was something I heard my parents’ talk about to their friends reminiscing about how it used to be, and how things are changing. I remember the first time I heard the N-word. My red-headed female best friend at the time Katie, told me she was moving to Missouri because her parents didn’t want her being around all these N’s. I was fortunate to also have a male best friend. He was horrified, and informed me I shouldn’t worry about it; but, the seed had taken root. For the next 13 years, I spent my life fine tuning my double consciousness.
WEB Dubois understood that the erroneous expectations of the majority class were so normal for them; they did not think twice before sharing these perceptions in front of minorities. Dubois understood the internal duality a minority must face, you cannot correct people in conversation because of the potential for persecution and the acceptance by the majority group especially during his age, was a delicate balance. You can only learn when you return to your privacy to shed their stereotypes, and focus on you. This is a difficult process as it is one thing to accept stereotypes, it is another to have to deal with racist remarks and pretend as if they do not bother you.
So when Ferguson happened, many can’t understand why the Black/ African American community is in such an uproar. See the issue has everything to do with the presumption of guilt or malice of black men. To be a Black/ African American man is the most challenging social position; you walk around with a target. The statistics are undeniable, and there is no way to ignore the persecution and prosecution that has occurred and continues to occur of Black/ African American males. Incarceration rates are high despite disproportionate population rates. Even when arrest rates are more even between cultural groups; conviction rates are higher among minority males. Males remain targets and not enough has been done to address the issue of racial profiling; if anything, it has gotten worse. The public outcry of Ferguson is living proof of Dubois’ double consciousness; the community is tired of being silent, tired of pretending like we do not fear the police, tired of ignoring that no matter how much we want to see culture, we are seen by our color.