“After the Egyptian and Indian, the Greek and Roman, the Teuton and Mongolian, the Negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight in this American world,--a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but 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’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 unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alon keeps it from being torn asunder.” (W.E.B. DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk , 1903)
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. (ESV)
Being a Black American is unique. If you really want to see how unique you are, try tracing your family’s history back 5 or more generations without the assistance of the internet or some ancestry program. Almost every other culture group is able to do that, but the Black American typically cannot. It is as though our existence began in America. We know, however, that is not the case. We are products of a slavocracy that sought at every turn to tear us away from our heritage. We are a people torn apart.
As grim as this sounds and as unjust as it feels, we are in possession of something that helps us push through. DuBois would call it double consciousness: knowing who you are while simultaneously perceiving how others view you. We have constantly lived with this “two-ness” in order to survive. Grandma might have called it home training. You know exactly what that means. It was her way of saying, “you know how to act depending on the setting and impending consequences for your actions.” She would simply break that down and say, “Act like you got home training!”
There is another aspect of our home training. Yes, we know how to act when we are in public, when we encounter police officers, when we eat at a friend’s house, when we go to school, and when we go to that job interview, but there is an often unspoken complement to grandma’s statement: have faith! We possess the hope that things will get better, that we will not have to conform forever, and that we will truly be recognized as equal in everyone’s eyes. Looking at life in this way - through the eyes of faith - you will see what God sees. You will attain a triple consciousness of sorts where you actually look beyond yourself and your situation to see the good and perfect will of God. That said, press through this week to look beyond your present situation. God is with you and will fight for you!