This is my Morehouse college essay and I was wondering if it's suitable and doesn't sound too pretentious. I believe it's too focused on what W.E.B. Du Bois life rather than highlighting characteristics of myself. If anyone knows a way to revamp this essay, I would greatly appreciate it. Feel free to tear it to shreds.
In the Souls of Black Folk in 1903, W. E. B. Du Bois established the term "double consciousness" into the study of African American psychology. Double consciousness results from African Americans viewing themselves, individually and as a group, through the eyes of the society they live in. Du Bois says it is "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. This generates what Du Bois calls a "twoness, - an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two un-reconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body". Throughout my young life I found myself struggling between the two views stated by Du Bois; attempting to maintain my African heritage and also assimilating into modern day America. My struggle, Du bois says, is attributed to that I "want to be both Negro and... American, without being cursed and spit upon by his fellows, without having the doors of Opportunity closed roughly in [my] face" . These two views are often in a constant struggle with one another, as the American view, in general, have degraded and dehumanized African Americans.
During my childhood, I was brought up in two different environments from low income apartments to quiet middle-class suburbia. With this shift, came a desire to want to conform to societal rules but with the knowledge of Du Bois ideology; I preserved my true self. After analyzing this would be change within me, a single question crept from the deep abyss of my mind; if it is even feasible for an African American, such as I, merge into society as both an American and as an African, without being held back or looked down upon. It would be a shame and contradictory if, in this Land of the Free, this Great Melting Pot; it is found to be impossible for this merging of the African and American to happen. With time, and effort on both sides, White and Black, it should be viable. However, because of history and the current situation of society, it will by no means be easy.
Because of history, there is a long tradition of considering people innately different because of their skin color. It is seen in the language, "acting black" or "acting white." All throughout high school, I was criticized by my African American peers for speaking "white" meaning that I spoke with clarity and diction. I even surprised my Caucasian peers due to the fact that I didn't speak with the expected stereotypical urban diction. By not allowing those terms to affect my inner being and society to put me in a mold, I found a balance between my true self and who I presented to society which in essence was my true self. However, by using these terms, society is immortalizing the myth that there is a certain way that a person acts, dresses, and talks, based solely on the shade of their skin.
This problem is found on both opposing sides from the white supremacist groups claiming that Blacks are naturally inferior, to some of the views of the Radical school of Black psychology, which say that whites have a "genetic color inferiority" states Maulana Karenga in his book, Introduction to Black Studies. These views of intrinsic difference, though perceived by both sides as empowerment, are destructive to the goal of good race relations. Du Bois, Martin Luther King Jr. and countless other equal rights activist fought hard to unite Blacks and Whites. People are innately afraid of the unfamiliar, and this fear promotes racism and prejudice. This is not to say that, I as an African American, should completely lose my distinctiveness, but my distinctiveness should not be viewed as an inherent difference; rather it should be a difference based upon how I developed and the environment around me. Much the same way that most people look at someone who is different yet has the same skin color.
My dilemma of African American double consciousness can be rectified. However, to allow myself to be fully American with all the same rights and benefits as any other American and yet still be African and maintain the rich cultural traditions, there needs to be a separation from the thinking that there is a "bio-genetically or innately determined character of the personality" (Karenga) which is measured by the amount of melanin. Du bois has helped me realized as a first premise that everyone is innately humane and with this understanding the doors are opened up to appreciate the full benefits of multiculturalism. In this way, I do not have to "Africanize America, for America has too much to teach the world" (Du Bois), and I myself, as an African American, does not have to bleach my soul in a "flood of white Americanism" for I know that my blood has a message for not only America but for the entire world. With this lesson, Du Bois has helped shaped me into the quintessential African American.