Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Double-Consciousness: Black and Gay


I came across this video on Tumblr, it's a spoken word performance between two opposing sides that realize they are one in the same at the end. The spoken word is performed as a battle between a white LGBT woman, and a black woman. They trade historical experiences that have taken place in the history of the groups they are placed in, and they come to realize, their struggle makes them the same.

After watching this video, I couldn't help but write something, anything. A while back I wrote a post about a man in American history that I adore. It focused on W.E.B. DuBois and his theory on double-consciousness
W.E.B DuBois double consciousness image
Du Bois came up with a theory called double-consciousness, in a monthly editorial published in 1987, he described it as, "a world which yields him no true 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 warring souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder".
When DuBois wrote this he was struggling for the most basic of civil rights. Although DuBois used double-consciousness to describe his "two-ness, --an American, a Negro", I have that conflict in myself as a homosexual and a person of color.




I once had an argument with a friend, she told me she believed that I sometimes reject my color. Particularly because I do not identify as an African American. I feel just like the girl in the performance; skin color is something you cannot hide. My skin color is not something that can be misinterpreted, but people can and do assume something totally different about my sexuality. No, I do not believe in wearing your sexuality on your sleeve because everyone isn't in your bedroom. In my opinion, it is only my sexuality that I must defend because if you cannot accept my black face that greets you without hesitation, then we don't even need to hold a conversation. Therein lies the double-consciousness.
My two-ness exists in my sexuality and culture, "whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder".

As DuBois noted, "this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others". I do not reject my heritage or color. I am simply comfortable in this beautiful brown skin that cannot be hidden or disguised. What can be disguised, if I choose, is my sexuality. The most personal part of who I am. The sexual part of my being that I can choose to reject or allow, no matter how difficult. That part I can choose to share or hide.

As I navigate this world, that is trying to become more tolerant despite itself; I experience double-consciousness everyday. DuBois only hoped that one day, he would be looked at as both, an American, and a negro. Black History is American history; in turn gay history is American history. 

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