Starting with African American Success

A Strength-Based Approach to Transformative Educational Leadership

Authored by: Camille M. Wilson , Ty-Ron M. O. Douglas , Christine W. Nganga

Handbook of Research on Educational Leadership for Equity and Diversity

Print publication date:  April  2013
Online publication date:  August  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415657457
eBook ISBN: 9780203076934
Adobe ISBN: 9781135128432


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In 1903 renowned sociologist and educator W.E.B. DuBois reflected on the status of African Americans who were legally free from slavery but still oppressed by a systemically racist society that deemed them inferior and morally threatening to White Americans. Upon this reflection DuBois (1995) asked, “What does it mean to be a problem?” (p. 44). In asking this question, DuBois pondered the psychological, social, emotional, and spiritual effects of African Americans striving to uplift themselves alongside White leaders and peers who believed they lacked adequate intellect and human worth. DuBois concluded that such conditions led African Americans to assume a “double consciousness” that entailed:

… always looking at one's self through the eyes of others, of measuring one's soul by the tape of the world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his twoness, -an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder. (p. 45)

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