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The connection between W.E.B Du Bois’ “double Consciousness” which is a chapter in his book The Souls of Black Folk and Pat Parker’s poem called For the White Person who wants to know how to be My Friend is very clear. There are several associations between these two writings but the main one is recognition and appreciation of the black nature. The ultimate aim of this context is to examine all the connections between these two scripts. It begins by providing the connections between the poem and the first chapter of Souls of Black Folk. It provides the statement issued in both the poem and the first chapter and indicates the existing connection. It then winds up by of the two writings before identifying the connections available. The specific connections examined include recognition of black nature, appreciation of blacks, fighting racism and abilities of blacks.
Parker articulated her feelings towards being treated distinctively by her pals since she was different in skin color. However, she expressed her desire to be valued for who she was despite her color skin. She believed she had abilities to do certain things better than even the whites. For example, she stated that “If you really believe Blacks are good lovers than whites – don’t tell me” (Parker 5). She meant that she could be better than the whites in some things. However, she never cared about that, all she wanted was to be respected and valued as a person, not a black person. She also tried to show that she was not a racist both to herself and to others. She also stated that, “And if some African AMerican individual affronts a person of different race, attacks, rapes or rips the persons’ house….please do not ask for clemency from me” (Parker 5). She wanted to be viewed as a single person and not to be depicted as a group of African American. Being a black person did not mean that she was linked to every black individual.
Du Bois, on the other hand, initiated the expression “double consciousness” into the African American psychology study. The word comes from how the African Americans see themselves individually and as a group, through observation of the society they live in. Du Bois confidently states that it is “always examining oneself through the sights of others, and of gauging personal soul by the tape of the world that views on in an engrossed disdain and shame” (Du Bois 299). This creates what Du Bois termed as “twoness, - an American, a Negro; two spirits, two contemplations, two un-reconciled struggling; two warring ideals in a single dark body” (Du Bois 299). The connections between these two expressions from “If you really believe Blacks are good lovers than whites – don’t tell me” and chapter one of The Souls of Black Folk is that both authors expressed their views expressions that had hidden meanings.
Parker gave another example, if a person is robbed, will they apologize to their father, brother or even husband for being robbed simply because the robber was of same gender? Moreover, she viewed the association, which was mostly created between persons of same race, as if they were from a comparable secret club or gang, as absurd. She had two commands for his white lover where she stated that, “The first thing you should do is to forget that I am Black” (Parker 5). This shows that she wanted to be examined for the individual she was inside, no matter how she looked like from the appearance of her color. Chapter one of Du Bois book, The Souls of Black Folk (Double consciousness) added on that their strive is to be recognized as both “Negros and Americans without being despised, cursed, discharged and abused by their White fellows, and without having their opportunity chances shut down on their faces” (Du Bois 299). The quest persists that, if it is even possible for a Black to combine into the community as both an American and as an African, without being pulled back or neglected. The connection between these two statements by the two authors is the fact that both statements defend the African heritage and they show how the authors expressed their pride for their skin colors in the poem and the first chapter of the book respectively. Parker was very clear in her principles to her lover. She stated that “Second, you should not forget that I am black” (Parker 5). It implies that Parker was proud of whom she was as an African American. On the other hand, chapter one of Souls of Black Folk (Double consciousness) clearly implies that African Americans should view themselves as special individuals in the eyes of others.
Therefore, Pat Parker was able to portray that she was against racism and that she was who she was as a person not as ‘Black’ (Parker 5). Du Bois, on the other hand, had a stand that he had to be accepted in society as both an American and as a Black and to be treated as one. Both the poem and the first chapter of Souls of Black Folk imply that the authors were proud to be Blacks and they could not hide that fact. However, since the whites despised them, they stood up strongly and defended their heritage.
Overview of the Connection between Parker’s Poem and chapter one of Du Bois Book
There are several connections between Parker’s poem and Du Bois’ chapter one of The Souls of Black Folk, ‘Double consciousness’. First, both of them are talking about African heritage in the sense that they both have African roots but they do not love how their fellow Whites treat them. According to Parker, nobody should treat her as a ‘Group’ of black people; she should be treated as her and as a person inside her (Parker 5). A black person should not mess up and blame all black people, let every person be liable of his or her own deeds. Du Bois, on the other hand, stresses that American land is a land of the free and mistreatment or despise by one person to another should not exist just because of difference in skin color. This means that both writers wanted the white people to appreciate the black people as they are and give them equal opportunities in everything.
Moreover, both writers stressed their traditional foundations by defending them against the whites. Parker’s second rule to his white lover was that he should not forget that she is black. This means that he valued his African roots and wanted everybody else to value them no matter their race. Du Bois also emphasized on the same point when he strongly disagreed with the concept that there is a long tradition of regarding individuals natively different because of their skin color. Every person knows his or her roots but difference in traditions and roots does not mean there is difference in abilities and capabilities. In fact, Du Bois was strongly against the concept that whites have “genetic color inferiority” (Du Bois 299). He stated that the views of native distinctions, though examined by both sides as empowerment, are disastrous to the objective of good race connections. Du Bois argued that despite the fact that individuals are naturally frightened of what is distinct, they should not let the panic foster racism and chauvinism.
Besides, both authors defended their rights as Blacks through standing out strongly and talking about the issue of racism that several black fear talking about. This shows that both authors were revolutionists who wanted the concept of racism to diminish. Both of them supported the idea that both African Americans and Whites have same abilities and capabilities. In fact, Parker never wanted her lover to evaluate her in terms of her skin color but in terms of whom she is - her abilities and capabilities (Parker 5). Du Bois also stood up and initiated the “Double consciousness” concept, which is viewing oneself in the eyes of others. It is a notion that describes African Americans in the society they live. He argued that the society always contain African Americans and Whites and therefore, these two different groups should merge and leave together in harmony as a society. This is because despite the difference in race, both dress the same act the same, talk the same and do almost everything the same.
Therefore, it is evident enough that Parker’s poem, For the White Person who wants to Know how to be My Friend has a concrete connection to Du Bois’ “Double Consciousness” concept from the book Of Our Spiritual Strivings.