Recent theories explain that any cultural encounter engenders the particular and, more often than not, peculiar condition of in-betweenness. Even in the past, when the immigrants faced the assimilative pressures within the American society, their identity could hardly be discussed in essentializing terms. The condition of in-betweenness affected political, cultural, emotional, familial, professional, and many other spheres of life. A number of social critics and cultural theoreticians have coined variegated terms regarding the condition of in-betweenness experienced by the representatives of certain cultural groups in attempt to redefine their identities in American society.
In The Souls of Black Folk, W. E. B. DuBois referred to double consciousness as a peculiar sense of the need to perceive oneself through the prisms of others. The self-esteem of Black Americans, in other words, was likely to depend on the way they were perceived by the mainstream, i.e. white, dominant society. DuBois’s employment of the concepts of “two souls, two thoughts, two reconciling strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body” implied, at first glance, the sense of inner conflict or even schizophrenic state of mind. The assimilative pressures that black people underwent destabilized the original self.