What did DuBois really mean?

Washington Post editor Marcia Davis challenges writer Austin Weatherington on his understanding of “double consciousness.”

I think Mr. Weatherington, the author of the piece, is wrong regarding double consciousness. I thought DuBois’s larger point was that the duality is indeed a reality AND a problem for African-Americans that prevents them from full self-actualization.

So on the one hand, Weatherington is correct when saying that double consciousness means dealing with another’s expectations, but he is off at the end of his essay when he says he’s not identifying with DuBois’s plight.

Given what I understand about this, DuBois would actually applaud the writer’s state of consciousness, which is to be liberated from anyone’s expectations and to be himself, whole and true. That was the humanity that DuBois said was denied African-Americans. So, toward the end of the piece, the writer seems to miss the scholar and activist’s point.

To me, he should actually be writing a letter to DuBois saying: “Hey, Professor, you’ll be happy to know that in the 21st century, here’s a black man who is closer to being his full self, no longer divided by anyone’s expectations, black, white or otherwise.”

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