When W.E.B. Du Bois writes of double-consciousness (in the first chapter of The Souls of Black Folk), he is speaking of Black Americans’ simultaneous understanding of (1) how they experience themselves and (2) how many non-Black people perceive them. This drawing grows out of a recent experience of double-consciousness once-removed. The man in this drawing and I passed each other as we were both walking past the Rockridge Barney’s Burgers, and as I walked by I wondered to what degree the way he carried himself on this street–his expression, his attire, his gait–reflected his awareness of how other people might perceive him. How did other people perceive him, anyway? Did he appear to be one thing to Black people, something else to white people, and something entirely different to Asian-American, Latin-American, and Native-American passers by?
The icons running down the right side of the page represent my own thinking about these questions. What if–in the media, on the streets, and in the popular imagination–Black men were portrayed and understood not as violent and threatening but as peacemakers and protectors? Indeed, the latter is much closer to reality than the former. And our brothers and fathers, our grandfathers and uncles, our teachers and our friends all reflect this truth each day, in almost everything they do.