Tuesday, September 14, 2004

"Because double binds are repressed, there is always an element of terror in them: the terror of bringing to the conscious mind the buried duplicity, self-deception, and pretense involved in serving two masters. This terror is the stuff of vulnerability, and since vulnerability is one of the least tolerable of all human feelings, we usually transform it into an emotion that seems to restore the control of which it has robbed us; most often, that emotion is anger."

Shelby Steele, English Prof, writer, race relations wrangler.
from On Being Black and Middle Class

Shelby is in conflict about his identity as a citizen, abiding by and believing in the virtues of the middle class (work ethic, education, property ownership, "getting ahead," accepting resposibility) and being black, whose racial identification, he says, urges blacks in the opposite direction--taking an adversarial stand toward the mainstream with an emphasis on ethnic consciousness over individualism--an implied separtism.

This is Steele's double bind. Isn't the purity of addressing such enormous inner identity conflicts as such relief in itself? I have a double bind. One negates the other. I am in limbo. I'm double bound. People also call this a Catch 22, but I much prefer Steele's nomenclature. Statements bring us closer to who we are.

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