Black American Identity Essay

587 Words3 Pages
Although depicted in various forms and caricatures, the complex identity of being a Black American can be derived from a concept introduced in W.E.B. DuBois’ book Ways of Black Folk— double-consciousness (DuBois, 6). In this, DuBois investigates how the intersectional identity of Black folks contributes to their lived experiences; he ultimately asserts that Americans will struggle in determining the role of Black people and overcoming the metaphorical color-line, the clear distinction in the treatment of Blacks and whites (DuBois, 6). This problem is manifested in historical examples found in Samuel D. Pollard’s documentary Slavery by Another Name (Pollard, 2012). In addition to validating DuBois’ concerns about the integration of Black people…show more content…
Similar to the period of slavery and Reconstruction, Black people are not afforded the luxury of being “moral” or “respectable” and instead, have been stigmatized as dangerous, criminal, and savage-like, stereotypes that continue to disgrace Black folks today. This notion is depicted in The Fire Next Time when James Baldwin states, “Crime became real, for example— for the first time not as a possibility but as the possibility” (Baldwin, 2259). Baldwin’s assertion coincides with claims revealed in Slavery by Another Name because it illuminates how Black people’s intersectional identity, once again, compels them to a state of inescapable subjugation. To further emphasize this, Baldwin continues, “One could never defeat one’s circumstances by working and having one’s pennies…even the most successful Negroes proved that one needed, in order to be free, something more than a bank account” (Baldwin, 2259). In this, by illuminating how the oppression that results from being a Black American transcends class lines, meaning that true liberation for Black folks cannot be bought, Baldwin coincides with concepts found in Slavery by Another Name, mutually asserting the hopelessness and unfeasibility of the American Dream for Black
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