Frantz Fanon wants to be a man. But in the white world in which he lives his skin colour becomes everything, more important than even his education and achievements. While his neighbour or his cousin might hate him for good reason, white people hate him without even getting to know him. They are irrational.
He is seen not as Dr Fanon but as a black man who is a doctor. Everyone is watching and waiting for him to make a mistake.
I was walled in: neither my refined manners nor my literary knowledge nor my understanding of the quantum theory could find favor.
White people do not see him, they see his body:
My body was returned to me spread-eagled, disjointed, redone, draped in mourning on this white winter’s day. The Negro is an animal, the Negro is bad, the Negro is wicked, the Negro is ugly.
Instead of being a person, a man, an individual, he is a black man, a Negro, an object, a thing that has value only in relation to whites. Always a Negro, never a man.
Look how handsome that Negro is.
The handsome Negro says, “Fuck you”, madame.
Even though the Catholic Church and science admit that black people are every bit as human as white people – their hearts are on the same side! – and even though white people themselves admit that racism goes against all reason, they still do not want you to marry their daughter.
Seeing that reason does not work with white people, some make up their mind to shout their blackness, to secrete race. Cesaire and Senghor took this road with their philosophy of negritude: on the other side of the white world there lies a magical black culture. Blacks have rhythm, their sex is magical, “Emotion is Negro as reason is Greek” and so on. But this only feeds white stereotypes about blacks.
And then there is black history: blacks had empires, scholars, iron workers and all the rest. But that is a dead end too since currently whites have the most advanced civilization in the world. At best it allows them to see blacks as the childhood of the world.
Even Sartre, a supposed friend of blacks, saw negritude not as something in its own right but merely as a passing reaction to white supremacy.
A feeling of inferiority? No, a feeling of not existing. Sin is black as virtue is white. All those white men, fingering their guns, can’t be wrong. I am guilty. I don’t know what of, but I know I’m a wretch.
In the Hollywood film “Home of the Brave” (1949) a soldier hurt in the war says: “Get used to your color the way I got used to my stump. We are both casualties.”
Fanon: I refuse to accept this amputation.
- Frantz Fanon
- Frantz Fanon: Black Skin, White Masks
- Leopold Sedar Senghor
- How white people think
- “whites are individuals”
- What this blog has taught me about white people