Before Du Bios really emphasize on his discussion of double consciousness, he addresses two important elements that are notably crucial for his novel. He talks about the veil, “Leaving, then, the white world, I have stepped within the veil, raising it that you may view faintly its deeper recesses, — the meaning of its religion, the passion of its human sorrow, and the struggle of its greater souls.” (Du Bois, p.xxxi). With greater depth, Du Bois references the veil to be a metaphor for African American and the difference from the whiteness of their surrounding society. The word “veil” also implies the noticeable segregation between the white and the black society, however, nothing has been done by the government and has been treated as if racist does not exist.
Potentially, black American identify with the veil to hide the color of their skin and to be able to assimilate and operate in the racist society, in this case, to accustom with the white Americans. The ‘Veil’, another metaphor for the hiding their identity, to separate from the white, is what African-Americans would live with for eternally. They would constantly live with the understanding that they were the lower class and that others would see them with disrespect. Without a proper leader like Du Bois, it seems they would live in this dilemma and not out of this situation any time soon. It can be inferred that African American bear an unaccountable burden in their lives without them knowing it. Du Bois is actively engaging with the audience that what a problem is can be, which leads to my second point.
The second point is a question he asks, “how does it feel like to be a problem?”(Du Bois, p.2). Not only does this question contain a certain racists tone, but it is extremely demeaning towards the African Americans. It is troublesome to assume African Americans were considered as “problems” in society. The American Negros was not only a problem but also, according to Du Bois, a representation of disrespect as he brought up the “seventh son”. He stated, “After the Egyptian and Indian, the Greek and Roman, the Teuton and Mongolian, the Negro is a sort of the seventh son.”(Du Bois, p.3). This term furthermore looked down upon African Americans, as ‘Blacks’ in the past, it is without a doubt that they were discriminated within the American society. The struggle for black Americans to strive for equally all seems to be pointless and in vain because of the “veil” that covers the true issue of the matter.
With prior knowledge, it is easier to understand double consciousness. It is the idea that originally comes from Du Bois, he explains as, “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” (Du Bois, p.3). From this quote, it is a perfect illustration of how Du Bois requires his audience to comprehend the hardship African Americans have been through, especially regard with identity. The word “soul” connects with the title of the book where he condemns the society that keeps most black American underclass. “Contempt and pity” are words mocking African Americans as if they are not underclass enough at the beginning of the 20th century. With these contexts explained, jumping ahead of some of Du Bois book, he speaks of how he fights for African Americans to regain their identity, things like education right, equality rights, and even evil, negative thoughts that put black Americans in deep turmoil.