Double Consciousness

I just finished reading a section of my critical theory book that discussed the double consciousness of Blacks in America. It was pretty cool.

It is definitely a real aspect of Black existence. For example, although I can speak and understand BVE (Black Vernacular English), I often feel disinclined to speak it when I am speaking to a white person because I feel that speaking in BVE will confirm pre-existing stereotypes about Blacks. When I interact with whites, I am always aware of the possibility that these people may think that I am a microcosm of Black culture. Thus, if do or say something stereotypical, my actions will be assumed to be the norm for my culture. However, I feel that speaking in “normative English” in some ways is an act of repressing my Blackness (blackness as a signifier of my membership in the Black community rather than as an essential trait of Blacks). On one hand, it prevents people from automatically labeling me and the culture I represent as inferior, but on the other hand, it doesn’t address the stereotype, so it inevitably perpetuates the stereotype that using BVE signifies ignorance. This often results in me either aggressively affirming my intelligence when I meet people and slowly revealing my “Blackness” so that they already know I’m no fool or me just being really reticent. Nevertheless, the former sucks because I may end up seeming pretentious and the latter sucks because I may end up seeming shy, neither of which appropriately represent me.

I’ve actually developed a new method of just expressing myself however I want to at the moment by using a hybridized amalgam of BVE and normative English. This allows me to be myself without feeling guilty of repressing my Blackness. Even if I do confirm a stereotype, I just think, “So what?” If the person already had a preconception, then interacting with me would not have changed this person anyway. Of course, this is really pessimistic and it could still result in a negative misunderstanding of Black culture, but I deal with the consequences, I guess. I’ll find a solution one day. Or not. Maybe people should just not be stupid and racist.

Even when someone does accept me as an intellectual despite my use of BVE, I still feel like I’m being condescended to when the person dons an expression that implies, “Wow, they can be smart too.”

So basically, America has a long way to go. Nevertheless, while America pushes toward an interracial, race-accepting utopia, at least I’ll still have my friends. They my niggas.


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