Children are not born with knowledge of the veil, but black children discover it at an early age. He notes that this reaction differs from that of other young black boys, many of whom grew bitter at the idea that God made them outsiders within their own country.
The Souls of Black Folk: Chapter 1 Full Document Between me and the other world there is ever an unasked question: They approach me in a half-hesitant sort of way, eye me curiously, and then, instead of saying directly, How does it feel to be a problem?
They say, I know an excellent colored man in my town; or, I fought at Mechanicsville; or, Do not these Of our spiritual strivings w e outrages make your blood boil?
At these I smile, or am interest, or reduce the boiling to a simmer, as the occasion may require. To the real question, How does it feel to be a problem? I answer seldom a word. And yet, being a problem is a strange experience, — peculiar even for one who has never been anything else, save perhaps in babyhood and in Europe.
It is in the early days of rollicking boyhood that the revelation first bursts upon one, all in a day, as it were. I remember well when the shadow swept across me.
I was a little thing, away up in the hills of New England, where the dark Housatonic winds between Hoosac and Taghkanic to the sea.
The exchange was merry, till one girl, a tall newcomer, refused my card, — refused it peremptorily, with a glance. Then it dawned on upon me with a certain suddenness that I was different from the others; or like, mayhap, in heart and life and thereafter no desire to tear down that veil, to creep through; I held all beyond it in common contempt, and lived about it in a region of blue sky and great wandering shadows.
That sky was bluest when I could beat my mates at examination time, or beat them at a foot-race, or even beat their stringy heads. Alas, with the years all this fine contempt began to fade; for the worlds I longed for, and all their dazzling opportunities, were theirs, not mine.
But they should not keep these prizes, I said; some, all, I would wrest from them. Just how I would do it I could never decide: With other black boys the strife was not so fiercely sunny: The shades of the prison-house closed round about us all: After the Egyptian and Indian, the Greek and Roman, the Teuton and Mongolian, the Negro is sort of seventh son, born with a veil and gifted with second-sight in this American world, — a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world.
One ever feels his two-ness, and an American, a Negro; two souls, tow thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder. The history of the American Negro is the history of this strife, — longing to attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self.
In this merging he wishes neither of the older selves to be lost. He would not Africanize America, for America has too much to teach the world and Africa.
He would not bleach his Negro soul in a flood of white Americanism, for he knows that Negro blood has a message for the world.
He simply wishes to make it possible for a man to be both a Negro and an American, without being cursed and spit upon by his fellows, without having the doors of opportunity closed roughly in his face. This, then, is the end of his striving: These powers of body and mind have in the past been strangely wasted, dispersed, or forgotten.
The shadow of a mighty Negro past flits through the tale of Ethiopia the Shadowy and of Egypt the Sphinx. Throughout history, the powers of single black men flash here and there like falling stars, and die sometimes before the world has rightly gauged there brightness.
And yet it is not weakness, — it is the contradiction of double aims. The double-aimed struggle of the black artisan — on the one hand to escape white contempt for a nation of mere hewers of wood and drawers of water, and on the other hand to plough and nail and dig for a poverty-stricken horde — could only result in making him a poor craftsman, for he had but half a heart in either cause.
By the poverty and ignorance of his people, the Negro minister or doctor was tempted toward quackery and demagogy; and by the criticism of the other world, toward ideals that made him ashamed of his lowly tasks.
The would-be black savant was confronted by the paradox that the knowledge his people needed was a twice-told tale to his white neighbors, while the knowledge which would teach the world was Greek to his own flesh and blood.W.E.B. Du Bois (–).
The Souls of Black Folk.
Chapter I. Of Our Spiritual Strivings: O water, voice of my heart, crying in the sand, All night long crying with a mournful cry, As I lie and listen, and cannot understand The voice of my heart in my side or the voice of the sea. O water, voice of my heart, crying in the sand, All night long crying with a mournful cry, As I lie and listen, and cannot understand The voice of my heart in my side or the voice of the sea.
In the opening essay, entitled “Of Our Spiritual Strivings,” he challenges white perceptions that black experience itself is the “problem,” and he asserts that the path to .
Need help with Chapter 1: Of Our Spiritual Strivings in W.E.B. Du Bois's The Souls of Black Folk?
Check out our revolutionary side-by-side summary and analysis. Essay about W.E.B. Dubois Of our Spirtual Strivings DU BOIS After reading William Edward Burghardt Du Bois’s “Of Our Spiritual Strivings ” it’s clear to understand what a hardship African Americans must have gone through during his time.
"Of Our Spiritual Strivings" serves as an introduction to the racial nuances that Du Bois will encounter throughout the rest of the work.