Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk (1903) addresses a white readership about what it means and how it feels to be a person of color in twentieth-century America. Indeed, the “ever unasked question” Du Bois references in the opening of his text is “How does it feel to be a problem?” Du Bois makes it very clear that issues of race and racism in America will continue to exist as long as white people continue to believe that these issues do not affect them. Du Bois describes the feeling of being black as akin to being “shut out from their [white people’s] world by a vast veil.”
One of the most canonical ideas that emerges in Du Bois’s work is the idea of double consciousness:
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. One ever feels his two-ness,—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two...
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