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A Consideration of African-American Christianity as a Manifestation of Du Boisian Double-Consciousness
Shirley A. Waters White
Vol. 51, No. 1 (Fall 2014), pp. 30-41
Published by: Clark Atlanta University
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/43199119
Page Count: 12
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This paper investigates and analyzes African American Christianity as a manifestation of the Du Boisian concept of double consciousness. This concept, the seminal social theory of W.E.B. Du Bois' body of work, has historically been discerned in the application of-African American social and political life or even in the life of Du Bois himself. But upon closer study of the life and strivings of the African-American Christian in general and W.E.B. Du Bois in particular, this same sense of disconnectedness and otherness can be theorized. This paper analyzes contradictions inherent in the involvement of Christians and Christian nations in the Atlantic slave trade; the hypocrisy of evangelizing and converting Africans to Christianity yet keeping them in bondage; and the historic struggles of African Americans for more than 400 years to reconcile the paradoxes of a God-fearing nation with the unjust and oftentimes inhumane treatment to which they are subjected, concluding that the African-American Christian can-in every sense as completely as the socially and politically marginalized-be said to be viewed as caught behind the "veil" so aptly described by Du Bois. Du Bois' writings on religion can be interpreted to further enhance these two discrete aspects: on one hand, the Black Church and its role and place in the Black community; on the other, Du Bois' personal ambivalence concerning Christianity. Du Bois' life itself can be interpreted to epitomize many of the tensions and problems inherent both in Black life in America and Black life as Christians.