Week 11/23 Trans Awareness Week
W.E.B. DuBois- “The Philadelphia Negro” and “The Souls of Black Folk”
Revisiting DuBois for Trans Day of Remembrance
W.E.B. DuBois is an US Sociologist who wrote about his experience as a biracial American. After graduating from Harvard, DuBois moved to Philadelphia to conduct his ethnographic field research on the African-Americans living there. He conducted interviews and observations asking them about their experiences with racism. The data collected in the ethnography was published in 1899 in the book “The Philadelphia Negro, detailing the Black experience in Philadelphia at that time.
Using this data, DuBois then wrote his theory book, “The Souls of Black Folk” in 1903. In this book he discredits the idea of race as a valid way of categorizing humanity and reminds us that biracial or multiracial people are not a recent phenomenon. He introduced his race theory of double-consciousness, the idea of “always looking at oneself through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the standards of a world that looks upon you with amused contempt and pity” – where your “dogged strength alone keeps you from being torn asunder”. He was describing the difficulties faced by the individual that cannot fully own their own identity because they are being constantly bombarded by the negative impact of a society that holds them in amused contempt, meaning that people enjoy making fun of them, and pity, meaning that people see them as charity and feel sorry for them.
Theory transcends time and place. This means that double-consciousness not only related to the Negro population in Philadelphia but also in Boston, in Alabama, or in Texas- any place; and not just in 1903 but also in 1915, 1955, or 2020- any time.
In this realization of noticing that Theory transcends time and place, we can then realize that theory can also transcend the identity formation it was specified to. An example of this would be a transwoman’s experience today. How her identity is not her own, she knows she is a woman but her womanhood is dependent on how she is seen in the eyes of others. She has to deal with transphobia and discrimination in a society that looks upon her with “amused contempt and pity” –where her “dogged strength alone keeps her from being torn asunder”.
Building Legacies: TGNC Mutual Aid
Respecting Trans and Non Binary Pronouns
Trans and Non Binary People Navigating HealthCare
Trans Day of Remembrance – Trans People murdered in the US in 2020
Revisiting W.E.B. DuBois theory on Transgender Awareness Week: watch the three videos and write an explanation of how DuBois’ theory can be applied to the trans experience. Make sure that you cite the videos and give clear examples. (In which video is your quote from? Which person is speaking?)
How have their Life Chances been affected?
How have they had to navigate the social structure?
What are the examples you can give where they demonstrate “always looking at oneself through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the standards of a world that looks upon you with amused contempt and pity” – where your “dogged strength alone keeps you from being torn asunder”.
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