In case you can't tell, this passage reinvented the concept of duality for the black American. If all those repeated "two"s don't drive the idea home, there's always the term "double-consciousness" to do it for you (which DuBois really did invent, by the way).
But back then, Du Bois was the man because he made the concept of a double identity new by making it specific to the "New Negro." In fact, he was one of the most crucial writers to imagine what the New Negro was like and what the New Negro could become.
Duality doesn't just mean having two personalities, though. What's really key to understanding DuBois's notion of duality is "second-sight." Being split between "two warring ideals"—one "American," another "Negro"—isn't fun. It means seeing yourself the way a typical white American might see you (and back then, not too many white folks had generous perceptions of free black men and women).
But the surprise appearance will have lasting importance if it keeps the President on the hook, too—if it helps reconcile a double consciousness that had left the Obama White House facing some of the most important issues of the day as if under a veil (another of Du Bois’s concepts).
You can pretty much know Du Bois just by reading his one, major work: The Souls of Black Folk. This book is a collection of autobiographical essays on African American life, centering on American politics. Why is the collection so phenomenal?
Du Bois provides a stimulating analysis of the importance of African American existence in a society that emphasizes white superiority and black inferiority.
He was also a huge political activist. Unlike , Du Bois believed that black Americans should be educated to the highest levels. That way, he thought, black Americans could effect real change over time.
Du Bois introduces the idea of double consciousness, an ideology that defines African Americans seeking to reconcile two different cultures that create their modern identity.
In it, Du Bois ended up inventing the major concepts that have since defined race politics in America, especially for African-Americans, ever since. The "color-line," "double-consciousness," the "talented tenth": these terms and ideas all came from Du Bois.
In The Souls of Black Folk, W.E.B Dubois introduces the concept of double consciousness as “the sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others” (Dubois 3)....
He constructs the concept of a double-consciousness, wherein a black person has two identities as two completely separate individuals, in order to demonstrate the fallacy of these opinions.
Du Bois raises awareness to a psychological challenge of African Americans, known as “double - consciousness,” as a result of living in two worlds: the world of the predominant white race and the African American community....
The Souls of Black Folk may be the more popular child in Du Bois's family of texts. But make no mistake: Black Reconstruction is pretty major in its own right. It's also huge. Like, 729 pages huge.
Mill also describes a certain fallacy in his own freedom of thought, a general conception of individuals that allows them to accept something similar to DuBois’ double-consciousness and perpetuates the existence of the veil....
In this book Dubois proposes that "the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color-line." His concepts of life behind the veil of race and the resulting "double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others," have become touchstones for thinking about race in America.