Continued from previous post (Go check it out!)
Reading back over my essay, I realized that I forgot all about Du Bois’ concept of Double Consciousness. Du Bois’ philosophy focuses on the role of African-Americans to be aware of their American heritage, while keeping grasp of their African lineage. In my essay, I discuss Brendt Ostendorf’s take on author Ralph Ellison’s spin on Du Bois’ Double Consciousness philosophy called Double Vision.
As you should know, Ralph Ellison is the author of the critically acclaimed novel Invisible Man, and that’s part of what Ostendorf’s essay focuses on. However, the main bulk of the essay explores Ellison’s expansion of Du Bois’ idea, which I basically say it here:
” Being a minority in, what seems to be, a social construct comprised of a [redacted] majority, is an apparent liability; however, this liability is an asset to the minority because the diversity of [ethnic groups] help question the norms and standards that are used by society to set boundaries.”
For the sake of this post, I omitted the aforementioned majority in the previous quote because it’s really specific to the essay I wrote two years ago, and not this post.
Conversely, the quote (the second point I wanted to cover) does go along with my idea of Triple Consciousness, which infuses W. E. B. Dubois’ Double Consciousness and Ralph Ellison’s Double Vision together in relation to the GLBT and African American community.
Let’s be honest about it, being African American and gay may be seen as a liability to most of us because it’s not acceptable to our culture. On top of not having that acceptance within our culture, we also have to deal with the overall American heterosexual spectrum and their discord for homosexuality. In addition to that, we must also consider that our ethnic group, despite the many years of activism, is still under scrutiny.
So, we’re a minority within a minority; how small can this babushka doll get? I’ve been reading a few blogs lately, and each of those blogs, in some way, discussed the need for the African-American community to embrace the African-American GLBT community because equality should have no race, gender, or sexual orientation. Many within our culture do not want to compare the activism of the Civil Rights movement to the activism of the GLBT community, but again, when did civil rights become a standard for society to set boundaries?
This is when the idea of Triple Consciousness comes into play. Triple Consciousness is the role of African-American homosexuals to be aware of their sexuality as it relates to their American culture, while also keeping a grasp on their African lineage. For whatever reason, both cultures are unaware, or it could be that because we do not want to compare the GLBT struggle to the Civil Rights movement that we cannot bridge the gap of understanding.
When it comes to grasping our African lineage, in my age group, we need to recount the Civil Rights movement, understanding why it was so important to gain the equal rights we have today. This should, although we know how things are, transition those thoughts and events into what’s happening now with our black gay culture. Furthermore, with both the history of our past struggles along with the current struggles of our GLBT community bridged together, it should invoke a sense of an overall community that would be an asset to furthering equality in general.
It’s just that while some gays embrace their sexuality, we have a number of people who are of the culture, but not in the culture (if that makes sense). To relate some of my original essay to the previous sentence, lost identity, laced with socioeconomic standards within the African American community, and the standards of American society as a whole, has pretty much fucked us up. Basically.
Unlike Ellison’s protagonist in Invisible Man, invisibility is not treated as a triumph of self awareness and understanding, but treated as a safety net and defense mechanism, hence your DL men and women, many of which attempt to live within the heterosexual realm. I find it funny now that I’ve gotten older and gained experience, that homosexuality is heavily stereotyped and not heterosexuality. Complex, ain’t it?
When we, as a gay culture, come in contact with a person who is heterosexual, there’s an attempt made to identify us through stereotype. Limp wrists, lisps, makeup, demeanor, walk, and vernacular are just some examples of what comes with the gay stereotype that other groups try to impose upon us. Just like in Ellison’s novel, the character encounters many groups that try to place a label on him based off of black stereotypes. In other words, it affects us. Although some of us want to be invisible, stereotyping has exposed us to hidden truths that reside within the minds of everyone’s consciousness, so it can be impossible at times to embrace a truth that you can barely admit to yourself.
I can go on and on with this, but I think I’ll leave it here for now. For me to try and draw a conclusion from this would be somewhat impossible because easy answers are never implemented. It’d be easy to say that everyone should just get along, but if that’s the case, opposition would be an afterthought.
In short, I will say that we may want to consider re-educating ourselves on our African lineage as it relates to the new generation of African-American youth, and not just the transition from Africa to the US, but the Civil Rights movement (specifically). I’m not sure where the misunderstanding is coming from as far as the struggle for equality goes.
Many factors come into play as to why things are the way they are. I hope to continue exploring this topic. It’s been a blast to spend the last 4 or so hours picking my brain to find the right words to put in this post. Please, please, please comment. I’m spent LOL.
For the original essay, Click Here