Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Trapped within the white gaze: A DuBoisian approach to understanding the existential burden of being a black man in America
by Doss, Adeyemi, Ph.D., Indiana University, 2015, 108; 10133337
Abstract (Summary)

African-American males have time after time been “complementary pieces” in America’s streets. Their bodies have frequently been perceived and fully apprehended metaphysically as “objects” which the universe considers to be a problem. My research objective is to probe deep into the intricate space that historically has no beginning and contemporarily no end in sight. Moreover, my research is based on my existential conflict with the complexities of being a black man in America. My desire to explore the complexity of existing as a black male, which is an existential quest that involves looking at the complex ways black men themselves negotiate with the world that surrounds them. How they struggle to survive within the borders of the white gaze and ultimately the white imagination, which traps them. The “white gaze” is a phrase that we often see in the works of African and African American writers as Ralph Ellison, W.E.B. Du Bois, Franz Fanon, Toni Morrison, and bell hooks. These literary artist and scholars have forced us to analyze and deconstruct the white gaze, which has a history of restricting African American’s inalienable rights to exist as human beings. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to develop a response to the “unasked question” that W.E.B. Du Bois positions within his book The Souls of Black Folk: “What does it mean to be a problem?” I examine how African American males negotiate with the idea of being seen through the white gaze via the white imagination as ontologically a problem.

In this research, I utilize an existential lens to examine how the “white gaze” traps black men in a destructive cycle adverse to their personal growth and development. I seek to explore and exposes the nihilistic rage behind the “white gaze” and the racial violence that has endangered the lives of blacks from the Jim Crow era to the present. I wish to denote how black men continue to combat anti-black pathological imaginations of their existence within the boundaries of American culture.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: McElroy, Frederick L.
Commitee: Grim, Valerie, Spade, Paul V., Williams Jr., Vernon J.
School: Indiana University
Department: African American and African Diaspora Studies
School Location: United States -- Indiana
Source: DAI-A 77/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: African American Studies, Philosophy, Ethnic studies
Keywords: America, Black, Burden, DuBoisian, Existential, Man, Trapped, White gaze
Publication Number: 10133337
ISBN: 978-1-339-91917-1
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