Fanon, a black psychiatrist from Martinique, starts by saying of himself:
I want to be recognized not as Black but as White. … who better than the white woman to bring this about? By loving me she proves to me that I am worthy of a white love. I am loved like a white man. I am a white man.
Yes, it gets worse:
Between these white breasts that my wandering hands fondle, white civilization and worthiness become mine.
Having lost half his readership, Fanon then turns to the case of Jean Veneuse, the hero of an autobiographical novel by Rene Maran, “Un homme pareil aux autres” (1947).
Jean Veneuse came to France from the Caribbean when he was three or four. He lost his parents and was brought up by boarding schools in France, the only black student in a sea of white. He has a lonely childhood. When the other students go home for the holidays he is left alone at school. He withdraws into himself and into books: Aurelius, Tagore, Pascal and other writers become his only friends.
He grows up French and falls in love with a white woman. He wonders about his motives.
Maybe it is simply because he was brought up European and so desires European women just like any other man in Europe. Or, contrariwise, maybe it is because he is black:
the common mulatto and black man have only one thought on their mind as soon as they set foot in Europe: to gratify their appetite for white women.
Most of them, including those with lighter skin who often go so far as denying both their country and their mother, marry less for love than for the satisfaction of dominating a European woman, spiced with a certain taste for arrogance.
And so I wonder whether … I am unconsciously endeavoring to take my revenge on the European female for everything her ancestors have inflicted on my people throughout the centuries.
Yet when he works in Africa as a civil servant he proves to be just as bad as the whites, complete with the native girl in his hut. So maybe it is not revenge that he wants but to separate himself from his race or even somehow to become raceless.
But Fanon says that Veneuse’s troubles run much deeper than that: he was left alone in the world by his mother as a small boy and is hung up on that. So he is afraid to love and be loved. He holds everyone at arm’s length, even the woman he wants to marry. Therefore we cannot draw any general conclusions from Veneuse’s case.
I have not read the whole book – I post as I read – but at this point this chapter seems like a waste. But we shall see.
- Liberator magazine’s take on this chapter
- Frantz Fanon
- Frantz Fanon: Black Skin, White Masks
- sexual selection and race
- race and dating
- internalized racism
- Is the White Goddess blog a satire?
- Who famous black men date