An Analysis of Race as a Determinant of Identity in the Souls of Black Folk, a Book by W. E. B. Du Bois

In society, a lot of things exist that people use to try and enhance their identity, in which they derive their sense of self from these things. Things like race, religion, nationality, political allegiance, etc., all serve the purpose of acting as one’s identity and who they are. Race, in particular, is often the first thing people usually attach to themselves. For example, one may say, “I am black,” or “I am white.” By saying this, people equate who they are with what they are.

They equate race with who they are as a person, although this is a major misconception. As stated in The Souls of Black Folks, “The history of the American Negro is the history of this strife, –this longing to attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self. In this merging he wishes neither of the older selves to be lost. He would not Africanize America, for America has too much to teach the world and Africa.

” This quote is an absolute perfect example of the long-existent human instinct to equate their race, essentially just their outer physical appearance, with who they are. In fact, in the quote they use the word “self,” one of the most misused words on the planet.

People, as seen with the “American Negro” in the quote, derive their sense of “self” from their “race,” not realizing that race is actually an illusion. As stated in a separate article, titled “What’s Your Race,” it states that race is a “figment of our imagination.

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” That’s precisely what race is, and the fact that people derive their “self” from something that isn’t actually real is somewhat troubling. It’s also important to look back in history to get a deeper understanding of the detrimental effects of equating race with “self.” Slavery is a most obvious example, in which thousands of African Americans were persecuted and beaten into submission by white Americans. That’s why so many African Americans today carry something called a “pain body” in which they carry heavy pain, often unconsciously, from the past and as a result feel negatively towards white people. This is where “racism” comes from. When we equate race with our “self,” we immediately begin creating divide and this idea of “us” and “them.” In addition, there is a quote that reads, “You can lose the life you have, but you can’t lose the life that you are.” This is a quote from something separate than the given articles. It’s from a book called “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle. While this is separate from the articles, the concepts are exactly the same.

People cannot seem to let go of the life that they “have,” which consists of things like race, religion, wealth, and all things materialistic. Although, you can lose your race, and still have the life that you are, which is the simple. Being that is every human being. It’s the essence of life existent in every human, and we cannot lose that. As mentioned earlier, we can lose our race, but the problem is people have an underlying fear of not having anything to equate their sense of self with, such as race. Even though most people refuse to admit it, there is a deep fear of not being able to say “I am this,” or “I am that,” when in actuality, you just “are.” It’s important for people to get to the point where all they need to say is “I am,” and not equate their self with things such as race. One must ask themselves: How can an illusion (race), explain the eternal, immensely complex, and magnificent Being that is in each and every human? In reality, it cannot. That’s why the quote mentioned earlier is so significant in realizing the presence of this misconception of equating race with “self.” That’s precisely how one’s race determines their identity, and the effects of this are clearly seen in society today.

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An Analysis of Race as a Determinant of Identity in the Souls of Black Folk, a Book by W. E. B. Du Bois. (2021, Dec 27). Retrieved from

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