W.E.B. Du Bois: Double Consciousness & the Veil

This clip from the Tuskegee Airmen was a perfect example of W.E. B. Du Bois’ thought on double consciousness and the veil. Double Consciousness refers to the daunting task for African Americans to bring together their African heritage while living in an American upbringing. The veil is a process in which skin color becomes both an objective and subjective social distancing mechanism. In this clip Lt. Col. Davis is trying to keep his squadron from having their pilot project canceled.
The double consciousness in the clip refers to how the pilots were fully aware of themselves as proud Americans serving their country, but with a simultaneous awareness of being treated differently as African-Americans. Looking through the veil at his white military superiors, Lt. Col. Davis asks the question, “how do I feel about my country and how does my country feel about me?” The veil in this example refers to the pilots’ skin color and seeing themselves through the eyes of others as well as an aspect of citizenship where some do not see Blacks as “true” Americans (i.e. full US citizens) which is powerfully portrayed by the Airmen’s treatment in the military and their denial of full rights by their white military superiors.

By: Madelyn Reyes & Dominic Marquez


  1. I think the clip was a great example of the dual reality black americans are forced to live in, the clip shows that while they were the same uniform and are called members of the united states military they are still treated with a segregated set of rules that they do not impose on white soldiers.

  2. This clip highlighted both double consciousness and the veil these soldiers saw the unfair treatment that their troops were receiving in comparison to other troop within the military and the realized that though they were in the military and risking their lives for their country, that same country saw them as second class and beneath others who were fighting for the same causes.

  3. I thought this was a wonderful clip that accurately betrays the struggle of African Americans. As a white female I have never had to face the amount of discrimination and prejudice the men in this clip faced, but I have seen even in today’s society disgusting examples of ignorance and hate when it comes to minorities or anyone that is different for that matter. W.E.B Du Bois sheds light on what it is like to try to find yourself and not loose yourself at the same time. His work, although criticized by many for being overly passionate, as we discussed helps expand the view outsiders looking in may have and be able to better empathize with a culture of people that were and still are widely misunderstood.

  4. I found this video to be a wonderful example of double consciousness. It is easy to distance yourself for this form of struggle when you are in a position of privilege. I am a white female so recognizing my privilege is some something that must happen on a daily basis. What I find interesting about double consciousness is how it proliferates into the academy. I feel like there are standards that are placed upon individuals of color that white individuals do not have to deal with. Further, I think it’s important to note that authors like Gloria Anzaldua speak in a similar way when it comes to border identity. I guess it all comes down to struggling with personal identity v. societal expectations.

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