Torn Between Two Cultures: Double Consciousness and the Protest Novel Essay examples

Torn Between Two Cultures: Double Consciousness and the Protest Novel Essay examples

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On that viscerally vibrant Friday morning, in that urbanized oasis, a group of primarily Black and Hispanic students united at El Cerrito High School to discuss their parents and peers very real struggle to achieve the American dream. The stories of racism, oppression, gentrification, and deportation filled the classroom with the voices of varied languages and vernaculars, a majority of which felt caught between cultures and pulled away at the seams by opposing orientations. These fourteen and fifteen year olds spoke of parents requiring them to speak the language of a place they’ve never been, of teachers demanding a “Standard English” they’ve never been taught, of friends questioning their “Americaness” because they didn’t know the difference between Disneyland and Disney World. This youthful minority-majority population is faced with cultural double identity; a term that reflects the cognitive dissonance an individual feels when their identity is fragmented along cultural, racial, linguistic or ethnic lines. This conflict of self is not isolated in this classroom in San Francisco’s East Bay area. It brims over into every classroom within California, where “no race or ethnic group constitutes a majority of the state’s population” (Johnson). It must be said then, that the culturally and linguistically diverse California classrooms must integrate texts that examine the psychological state of double identity. Turning to Luis Valdez’ play “Zoot Suit”, Chester Himes’s protest novel If He Hollers Let Him Go, and Al Young’s prose poem “Coastal Nights and Inland Afternoons”, we encounter literature and characters with double identities that assist in navigating marginalized adolescents with their own struggles in understanding their mu...


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...an Studies 7.3 (2003): 59-79. Academic Search Complete. Web. 19 Apr. 2014.

Du Bois, W.E.B. "Of Our Spiritual Strivings." The Souls of Black Folk. New York: Gramercy, 1994. 1-15. Print.

Himes, Chester B. If He Hollers Let Him Go: A Novel. Ed. Hilton Als. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo, 2002. Print.

Johnson, Hans. "California's Population (PPIC Publication)." Public Policy Institute of California, May 2011. Web. 19 Apr. 2014.

Padilla, A. M. "Bicultural Social Development." Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences 28.4 (2006): 467-97. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences. Sage Journals, 9 Oct. 2006. Web. 18 Apr. 2014.

Valdez, Luis. "Zoot Suit." Zoot Suit and Other Plays. Houston, TX: Arte Publico, 1992. 21-94. Print.

Young, Al. “Coastal Nights and Inland Afternoons”. California Ethnic Literature from 1900. Ed. Anthony Rizzuto. Sonoma State University: Spring 2014. 12.

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