Double-Consciousness of the Disabled

Topics: Disability, W. E. B. Du Bois, Invisible disability Pages: 5 (1802 words) Published: October 6, 2012
Ideas for Working across Chapters; Page 308, #2:
Refer to W.E.B. Du Bois’s definition of double-consciousness in Chapter 2. Then reread the personal essays in this chapter—those by Keller, Slackjaw, and Kleege. Is it possible for disabled people to experience a double consciousness parallel to that described by Du Bois? Using at least one of the works suggested write an essay exploring areas where the writer may be evincing a sort of double-consciousness. To what extent is he or she aware of that double-consciousness and participating in its critique?

Double-consciousness of the Disabled
Double-consciousness represents, as Du Bois defines it (1903); “A sense of always looking at one’s through the eyes of others.” How then can a blind or deaf person experience a double-consciousness parallel to that as described by Du Bois? What a person sees or hears does not always have to be with their eyes or ears. A person can see a lot with their imagination using their noses, mouths, and hands. Blind and disabled people can experience a double consciousness and can actively participate in its critique. Double-Consciousness

The idea of a double consciousness as Du Bois employs began as a blend of dualistic preceding concepts. Transcendentalism and Romanticism were movements that expressed a divided consciousness to categorize the disconnection of a person’s identity and the spirit. In addition, experimental psychological therapists of the nineteenth century declared split-personality disorder a double consciousness. Du Bois described double-consciousness by stating; “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.” An individual is aware of the manner in which others see them and this influences the way a person lives their life.

The technical definition of double-consciousness, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary is; “the presence of two apparently unconnected streams of consciousness in one individual.” A stream of consciousness is a form of interior conversation that wants to take the lead of consciousness in a story, and it can consist of insights, thoughts motivated by different smells, tastes, or sounds, and fragments of random, disconnected thoughts. The definition conveys double-consciousness as the way a person thinks the rest of the world sees him or her self’s and the way a person sees themselves in their own consciousness compared to the world’s view.

An example of double-consciousness in women
A woman working in a ' masculine' job; where the majority of the workers are men, will perhaps, see herself as a hardworking woman that has earned her position. This woman will also see herself through the eyes of her co-workers and see a woman that wants an “easy ride” or receives the position to fill a quota. Even when this woman is just as qualified, she will see herself this way in a double-consciousness. An example of double-consciousness in people of ethnicity

A Hispanic, Chinese, or any other individual of ethnicity applies for a position that they are well qualified for may see themselves as an asset to the company. They may also see themselves the way that they think the rest of the world sees them; the color of their skin is not ‘white’ enough or their accent does not fit in. Even though they have all the credentials befitting the job title, they will see themselves this way with a double consciousness. An example of double-consciousness in disabled people

Blind individuals may perceive themselves as perfectly capable and not in need of eyesight to be content; but they may see what they reason the world sees; a disabled encumbrance that will by no means be able to make it on their own. Furthermore, a blind and deaf individual may perhaps see themselves as blessed to be able to appreciate the...
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