29 Matching Annotations
  1. Jan 2019
    1. merge his double self into a better and truer self.

      What would be involved in the act of "merging" that Du Bois fantasizes about?

    2. It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others

      What is "peculiar" about Du Bois's mode of perception? How does his "double consciousness" compare to Emerson's experience of the "bare earth" in "Nature"? Why doesn't Du Bois just head out for the "perfect sweetness of solitude"?

    3. the revelation first bursts upon one

      What is the "revelation" that bursts up on Du Bois in childhood? What choices does it leave Du Bois as he attempts to work through it?

    4. How does it feel to be a problem?

      What does it mean to be a problem? Why is this such a strange-sounding construction and what are some of its implications?

    5. Between

      What's the first word of the first chapter? Why is betweenness such a crucial term in Du Bois's discourse? How does this opening compare to Emerson's?

    6. need I add that I who speak

      What is the rhetorical effect of this line? What would it mean for him to "add" or not "add" the fact of his blackness? What do you make of his dramatic understatement, his "need I add," that doesn't quite add or subtract his racial identity?

    7. Gentle Reader

      Who is this "gentle reader"? How does Du Bois situate reader and writer in this piece from the beginning? What is "hidden," and from whom?

  2. Feb 2018
    1. 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.

      Frantz Fanon's The Fact of Blackness comes to mind:

      I came into the world imbued with the will to find a meaning in things, my spirit filled with the desire to attain to the source of the world, and then I found that I was an object in the midst of other objects.

      Sealed into that crushing objecthood, I turned beseechingly to others. Their attention was a liberation, running over my body suddenly abraded into nonbeing, endowing me once more with an agility that I had thought lost, and by taking me out of the world, restoring me to it.

    2. It was the ideal of “book-learning”; the curiosity, born of compulsory ignorance, to know and test the power of the cabalistic letters of the white man, the longing to know.

      The ballot and "book-learning" are tools that black people can use in order to strive by learning the rules or laws of the white man, and using their vote in order to change them.

    3. and yet the swarthy spectre sits in its accustomed seat at the Nation’s feast.

      What does he mean? What is the "swarthy spectre"?

    4. for the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color line.

      The problem of segregation, or the "veil".

    5. He would not Africanize America, for America has too much to teach the world and Africa. He would not bleach his Negro soul in a flood of white Americanism, for he knows that Negro blood has a message for the world

      I love this statement. Too American for Home and too homely for America (a common West Indian saying). There's a resistance in this between ground. It's a creation of a new American culture, enriched by the touch of Africa that was stolen. I would like to argue that this is essentially, the petri dish for "black culture".

    6. Do not these Southern outrages make your blood boil?

      Good transition to Walter Johnson's On Agency - between the world and the black body needs to exist some rage to express their oppression. If the black man (or woman) doesn't subscribe their agency when they are trapped in a rageful place - they aren't "reclaiming their agency" - this (forcing black folks to expose their souls for the benefit of letting their pain be known) is a form of good intentioned white supremacy.

    7. without having the doors of Opportunity closed roughly in his face.

      This reminds me of a common black household phrase: "You have to work twice as hard to be half as good." From childhood we are reminded that white mediocracy is often rewarded while black excellence can still be overlooked simply because of our complexion.

    8. worshipped Freedom

      The idea of worshipping freedom draws on the strong religious presence amongst Black people during the time of slavery. Like God, freedom was something to hope for. Both God and freedom gave the enslaved something to believe in.

    9. human

      I think the fact that he used the term "human opportunity" rather than solely saying "black opportunity" is important because historically, the Black community has advocated for rights and equality of all people, not just black people. This can still be seen today in the realms of feminism and police brutality.

    10. The would-be black savant was confronted by the paradox that the knowledge his people needed was a twice-told tale to his white neighbors, while the knowledge which would teach the white world was Greek to his own flesh and blood.

      White people had long been given the knowledge necessary to succeed. However, the source of this knowledge was never readily available to black people. This made it even harder for Black people to succeed in a society already constructed against them.

    11. And yet, being a problem is a strange experience,—peculiar even for one who has never been anything else

      The idea of being viewed as a problem is one that is instilled from childhood and is carried throughout one’s life. However, it remains peculiar because one is not labeled a problem by choice. Why must I carry and constantly suffer under a burden that I never asked for?

    12. tear down that veil

      The image of the veil, even as a child, allows him the double-consciousness he elaborates on in the next paragraph - of individual self awareness of his potential as well as awareness of the traits and opportunities he is ascribes by the other side.

    13. Freedom, too, the long-sought, we still seek,—the freedom of life and limb, the freedom to work and think, the freedom to love and aspire.

      The freedom he describes in this paragraph reflect the need for Black Americans to uplift and define themselves, i.e. gain inscriptive power over their history and identity

    14. For the first time he sought to analyze the burden he bore upon his back, that dead-weight of social degradation partially masked behind a half-named Negro problem

      He directly addresses the concept of the "negro problem" here when he says it is "half-named." It seems to suggest both that the other, unnamed half of the problem is the "white" half, and that the words "negro problem" were devised only by the side of white oppressors, and the POC half did not get a say in the defining of their own repression.

    15. bought

      I think his choice of verse is telling - to be free is still to be "bought," even if by God. Reinforces the question of agency black people have over their bodies and stories.

    16. General question: the guiding metaphor here is visual. Du Bois claims the "Negro" has "second sight," lives behind a "veil," and so on. What are moments in which writing impinges on this metaphor and makes things more complicated? How does Du Bois raise questions of access to writing, inscription, publication throughout this piece?

    17. the Negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight in this American world,

      Why "gift"? Du Bois would seem to lay out a model of victimhood here, with the "Negro" being split and nearly torn. So is he being ironic here?

    18. How does it feel to be a problem?

      It's a strange question. What would be the usual way of wording this? What position does this question put Du Bois (and by extension, minority subjects in general) in?

    19. Between me and the other world

      Canny readers will hear this phrase echoing through African American writing, from Douglass, as we'll see, to Wright's poem "Between the World and Me," to Coates's recent book, which takes its title from the Wright poem.

  3. Mar 2017
    1. oolf develops a metaphor in which literary art is a horse and "propa-ganda" is a donkey-attempting to mingle the two can produce only sterile off-spring

      Around this time, W.E.B. Du Bois was writing that all art is propaganda and advocated for African American literature that offered favorable depictions of black people. It's interesting that both Du Bois and Woolf were thinking about liberation through writing but had different ideas about the connection between art and propaganda.

  4. Feb 2017
    1. scholars

      I'm reading a lot in another class about historiography and about African Americans such as Du Bois reclaiming African American history, pointing out the unique culture, accomplishments and struggles while also revealing how those in privileged positions have constructed myths about blackness which resulted in the silencing of their history and experiences. Stewart is doing something similar in reclaiming the history of women.

  5. Jul 2015
    1. the gap between her world and the world for which I had been summoned to speak.

      A riff on the title of TNC's forthcoming book, itself a a riff on WEB Du Bois's famous description of black experience in The Souls of Black Folk (1903). As he opens that book in a chapter entitled "Of Our Spiritual Strivings":

      BETWEEN me and the other world there is ever an unasked question: unasked by some through feelings of delicacy; by others through the difficulty of rightly framing it. All, nevertheless, flutter round it.