Masks keep you safe

According to the context of W.E.B Du Bois’ story, “Of Our Spiritual Strivings,” African Americans have been, “born with a veil, and gifted with with a 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.”

The story, “Of Our Spiritual Strivings,” was written in 1903 and Du Bois lived during the late 1860s when slavery was over but if you were black you were still chained to the racist systematic laws that existed and you were constantly surrounded by racist white people. When I say, racist white people, I don’t mean that all white human beings in the United States were racist but, the majority of the people allowed stereotypes to control their way of thinking and because of that, they were even more ignorant than anything. To be ignorant means to not give someone else a chance and to not allowing your self to be open to learning new things because a selfish mindset that you may have.

In class, we interpreted Du Bois’s statement about African American people being born with veils and being gifted with a second sight as living two different lives in a way to fend for their own life. People of color saw this veil as a tool that protected them and allowed them to learn how to act in the society and time period that they lived in and how they should conform to what white people would want at that time.

I titled this post as “Masks that keep you safe, ” because we also discussed the poem written my Paul Laurance Dunbar who wrote We wear the Mask. This poem stuck to me and it took me about an hour to really understand and take in the meaning of the poem. In order for me to truly comprehend the poem, I searched and listen to Maya Angelou’s version of the poem and her combining it with her own. I find that reading a poem verses listening to it serves a completely different effect on how you take it all in. Now, I will say, We wear the Mask is a phenomenal poem that depicts exactly what African Americans went through once they were forced to live by white standards. The lines that stood out to me the most and that I would tie in with W.E.B Du Bois’s line about being born with a veil from“Of Our Spiritual Strivings,” are:

“We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—”
Although the concepts are different the idea of being obliged to cover your true identity for the purposes of satisfying another group of peoples needs is what correlates. As W.E.B Du Bois’ story, “Of Our Spiritual Strivings,” stated “African Americans have been, “born with a veil, and gifted with a 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.”
Having to wear a mask all of the time ties in with the idea of having a second sight to survive in the American world that minorities struggle in. When you wear a Mask or a veil you are yourself behind whatever it is you are covering first. You see everything how you would regularly see things and you would have your original perspective but because of the society that minorities lived/live in they had/have to react differently compared to how they would have wanted/want to react originally to many racially related issues.

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