Souls of the black wave us backOne ever feels his two-ness,—an American, an Afro-American, a Colored or Black….two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.
By Nazarul Islam
After the Egyptian and Indian, the Greek and Roman, the Teuton and Mongolian, the Black is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight in this American world, which yields him no true self-consciousness. This 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 by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity.
One ever feels his two-ness,—an American, an Afro-American, a Colored or Black….two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.
We, the people of color, who move in the shadows…are the survivors of the great ocean crossing, clung to the beast that had stolen away. Not a soul among us had wanted to board that ship, but once out on open waters, we held on for dear life. The ship became an extension of our own rotting bodies. Those who were cut from the heaving animal sank quick to their deaths, and we who remained attached wilted more slow as poison festered in our bellies and bowels. We stayed with the beast until new lands met our feet, and we stumbled down the long plants just before the poison became fatal. Perhaps here in this new land, we would keep living.
Can you deny that history of the African American is the history of this strife — this longing, to attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self?
Englishmen I knew had loved to bury one thing so completely in another that the two could only be separated by force: peanuts in candy, indigo in glass, Africans in irons…Standing. Agree??
In South Carolina, my friend had been an African. In Nova Scotia, he had become known as a Loyalist, or a Negro, or both. And now, finally back in Africa….he was seen as a Nova Scotian, and in some respects thought of myself that way too.
Personally, I have concluded that no place in the world was entirely safe for an African, and that for many of us, survival has depended on perpetual migration. Long time ago, they had started their long journey north….of Kenya!!
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