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Comparative Analysis of “We Wear The Mask”, ‘The Forethought’ and “The Souls of Black Folk'

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For this month’s monthly response, I decided to analyze the readings “We Wear The Mask” and ‘The Forethought’ from “The Souls of Black Folk.” Both readings share the themes of the reality of being a Black American, and the subconscious adaptation to the pains attached to it. Although one is a poem and the other is an expert from a work of literature composed of essays discussing the sociology of Black Americans, both give readers insight to the real feelings and thoughts of Black Americans.

To begin, the poem “We Wear The Mask” metaphorically compares the facade that Black Americans put on every day to function in America to a mask. It brings to the attention of readers that African Americans have learned to “wear a mask” that hides the real internal pain they feel attached to just being Black in America. The poem also points out that the world seems to act oblivious to our pain because of the fact that we wear the mask so well. Even when we take the mask off from time to time, they seem to still not see our pain. The mask can symbolize our smiles, humor, art, talent, or hard work that they still see us produce all the time, but they don’t realize that all of it is birthed from the pain that they seem to be oblivious to. This poem made me reflect upon how we as black people always have to be the strong ones and suppress our true pain so we don’t seem like we are making ourselves out to be the victims that our reality already says we are. As I reflect even more, it could be possible that the Black community’s feelings towards mental health or the lack thereof is attached to this behavior of covering our real pain that we have adopted through generations.

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Moving forward, in the excerpt ‘The Forethought’ from “The Souls of Black Folk”, James Baldwin discusses the realities that bring the pain that Black Americans feel the need to cover up. He mentions double consciousness, his notable concept to describe the struggle of being born Black and American and the journey of figuring out how to balance the two roles as you go through life (689). The feeling of having to separate the two things that make you who you are can bring you pain alone. Even as a Black American child, it doesn’t take long for you to realize you are seen as different in a negative light or as Baldwin describes it, “a problem”(689). Baldwin also brings attention to the fact that Black Americans began to obtain education as a way to cover the pain of that reality, realizing it was one of the only ways they were going to be able to succeed in America, but the more they were educated about how they were really seen by the rest of the world, the pain they felt they needed to mask intensified (691).

After analyzing and investigating the deeper meanings of the readings, I realized that myself, and other current Black Americans can still relate to the sentiments expressed. An example of a current form of masking is feeling the need to code switch between black and “corporate” American vernacular in different settings. Also, subconsciously feeling the need to put yourself in a smaller box when around the other races of the American population because you don’t want to make yourself seem too great and make the others uncomfortable. Furthermore, this literature is significant to understanding African American history because it makes you realize that our sense of stability and belonging in America has been built upon hiding our true innermost selves.

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Comparative Analysis of “We Wear The Mask”, ‘The Forethought’ and “The Souls of Black Folk’. (2022, September 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved January 30, 2023, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/comparative-analysis-of-we-wear-the-mask-the-forethought-and-the-souls-of-black-folk/
“Comparative Analysis of “We Wear The Mask”, ‘The Forethought’ and “The Souls of Black Folk’.” Edubirdie, 27 Sept. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/comparative-analysis-of-we-wear-the-mask-the-forethought-and-the-souls-of-black-folk/
Comparative Analysis of “We Wear The Mask”, ‘The Forethought’ and “The Souls of Black Folk’. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/comparative-analysis-of-we-wear-the-mask-the-forethought-and-the-souls-of-black-folk/> [Accessed 30 Jan. 2023].
Comparative Analysis of “We Wear The Mask”, ‘The Forethought’ and “The Souls of Black Folk’ [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 27 [cited 2023 Jan 30]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/comparative-analysis-of-we-wear-the-mask-the-forethought-and-the-souls-of-black-folk/
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