Thursday, October 15, 2009

Double Identity

I have been thinking about ideas of double identity – of ethnicity and nationality, which all minorities living in the dominant culture in the United States might share.

As a Japanese person living in the United States, I struggle sometimes with having to navigate between the cultures. These starkly different worlds live inside me and at times feel irreconcilable.

 W.E.B Du Bois wrote about a kind of “double consciousness” in an Atlantic Monthly essay in 1897:


The Negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight in the American world, --- a world which yields him no self-consciousness, but only lets him see 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.


The definition and experience of the word “double consciousness” during the era is much different now. But the concept of the word still lingers.

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