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Double Consciousness Narrative: Obedience and Freedom

The double consciousness according to DuBois is seeing yourself and knowing how others see you. It is when two cultures engross one person to create two perspectives. The double consciousness is a product of dualism. Dualism is oppositional pairs that were put in place by the trauma and split from colonization. When dualisms are lived it brings into question what identity really is and how dualism has created a lived experience of split identities. Race, gender, sexuality, and nationality are some examples of these lived dualisms. Lived dualisms change a human being’s sense of self. The sense of self is deeply shaped by cultural context. This includes self- awareness, values, attitudes, and environment. When the sense of self is conflicted the person’s behaviors and values are altered to fit an external sense of self; a double consciousness is formed. Another term for the double consciousness is “twoness”: knowing how one is viewed by the dominant culture and one views oneself through their own cultural lens.

My personal double consciousness is obedience and freedom within my environment. The dominant culture is law abiding society and my culture is parkour. Parkour is a movement discipline that focuses on efficient and effective body movements to get from point A to point B. Parkour values freedom of movement and exploration. It is about adapting, exploring, and utilizing everything around you and within you. I do not see walls and fences as boundaries; I see them as places to explore. Unfortunately, people who do not share this view look at me as a delinquent who is trying to vandalize and pollute property. This has created twoness within me because I respect authority and also want to investigate the possibilities of my surroundings. I have had so many negative experiences with authoritative figures jumping to conclusions when they see me training that it has influenced me to avoid training in certain places and to make sure kids do not see me so that I may not be a “bad influence” to them. Dubois asks the question, “how does it feel to be a problem?”(DuBois , 1903: 198). This question speaks to me because my existence as a parkour athlete is viewed as a problem. I hear parents tell their kids “do not get any ideas” and often they will leave if I start training at the same park or I will be asked to leave. These experiences have led me to change my external sense of self by losing my desire to explore and risk dealing with an upset observer or security guard. I want parkour to be viewed as a positive influence and the negativity that we so often receive from on lookers deters me from practicing my own movement. I view my explorations as mind opening and it is so often shut down by others.

My double consciousness has shaped my life into becoming a coach. I want to put myself into a leadership position to help others understand and see the roots of why parkour athletes act how they do and why society does not always agree. It is amazing to experience conversations with parents and students about parkour culture and be reminded of “this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity” (DuBois, 1903: 198). This sensation is created through the words of concerned people who are skeptical of parkour as a discipline. They still so often view it as a sport for “wanna be ninja” kids and irresponsible adults. There are even larger organizations that want to control parkour because they view us as an unorganized scattered people that need guidance. These views represent the views of the dominant culture and I constantly ask myself do I give in or do I fight for the discipline that is so much more than they see? It is easy to give in to temptation of popularity and money, but “…inspiration strives with doubt, and faith with vain questionings” (DuBois, 1903: 201). I will not stop questioning society’s actions, and will continue to integrate my perspectives so that I can provide education and an understanding of my culture to the other.

 

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