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Black Skin, White Masks

4.22 of 5 stars 4.22  ·  rating details  ·  5,334 ratings  ·  184 reviews
First published in English in 1968, Frantz Fanon's seminal text was immediately acclaimed as a classic of black liberationalist writing. Fanon's descriptions of the feelings of inadequacy and dependence experienced by people of colour in a white world are as salient and as compelling as ever. Fanon identifies a devastating pathology at the heart of Western culture, a denia ...more
Paperback, New Edition, 186 pages
Published August 20th 2008 by Pluto Press (first published 1952)
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What is there to say? Purely and simply this: When a bachelor of philosophy from the Antilles refuses to apply for certification as a teacher on the ground of his color, I say that philosophy has never saved anyone. When someone else strives and strains to prove to me that black men are as intelligent as white men, I say that intelligence has never saved anyone; and that is true, for, if philosophy and intelligence are invoked to proclaim the equality of men, they have also been employed t
There is plenty to critique in this book, and I think the urge to critique is heightened by the author's ubiquity.

For one, Fanon is deeply misogynist and homophobic. He writes that it is in refusing to acknowledge the black man that the white man strips him of his subjectivity, and yet he writes nary a word about the black woman. The greatest irony of the book is that the chapter entitled "The Woman of Color and the White Man" is really a chapter about how black men perceive black women, and it
fanon takes psychoanalysis, phenomenology, and his incredible mind and goes amazing places; evades being bogged down by psychoanalytic dogma, while using its concepts to tease out a living constellation of power relations and problems of race and representation. so apt and agile and fascinating that it gets my 5 stars despite its raging sexism, ablism, homophobia.

The first lines are just stunning.

"The explosion will not happen today. It is too soon... or too late.
I did not come with timeles
Odi Shonga
This book is a must-read for any young person of colour who has found himself existentially agitated by, what one might call, his "condition". I don't mean that in a negative, medical sense; I mean it as in any condition, like the human condition. It's simply false to imply that it means nothing to be coloured in a post-colonial world. We can agree that it shouldn't mean anything, but it does, and so we have to grapple with that, and Frantz Fanon is a good way in.

It's written elegantly and it's
As a black man, reading Fanon has had a profound, almost revolutionary impact on me. When I think about the past and how things were and how far we have come I shed tears of remorse for those of whom have fallen victim, been destroyed, been hated, been cast out, been taught to self hate,under the condescending eye of the white man.

But again as an individual, as an intellectual, and as a Christian there are principles that have come to define the philosophy I live by. Indicated by three simple ma
"I am black; I am in total fusion with the world, in sympathetic affinity with the earth, losing my id in the heart of the cosmos... I am black, not because of a curse, but because my skin has been able to capture all the cosmic effluvia. I am truly a drop of sun under the earth.” (p. 27)~ Thus Fanon reaches into the experience and meaning of the black man's alienation.

This alienation strikes in an essential sense--it stems from the denial of the black man's very flesh: "The black man is attack
Fanon remains one of my all time favorite writers. I was reading Blacks Skin, White Masks to compare how much things have really change in relation to the conditions of black people or people of color on a world scale. The only conclusion from reading this book is that the more things change the more they stay the same. Fanon had a deep insight into the psychological impact of racism and white supremacy on black people. In the case of South Africa black people remain a psychological minority , d ...more
As someone without much formal training in psychology or sociology, and (more significantly) as a white middle-class male, it difficult for me to find a comfortable vantage from which to discuss this book -- and perhaps that uneasiness is part of the point.

Fanon's exegesis of the impact of colonialism on colonized peoples, and the psychological displacement and cultural violence that arises from such interactions, is compelling and exact. Although his interpretations largely stem from a fairly
Aug 01, 2008 Alan marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
On summary comparison, it's hard to overstate how bloodless and jilted the 2008 (Richard Philcox)translation seems next to to the 1967 Charles Lam Markmann. I don't speak French. However, I do read English. If Markmann's version is only so beautiful and compelling because he's taken liberties, I might be able to live with that. The worse accusation might be aimed at Philcox: has he made Fanon more staid and classical in attempts to make him feel more canonical? Isn't that kind of like
I have to admit that I've always been skeptical of the works of psychology. I think it has to do with how we met (first incarnated in my high-school psychologist that was mainly concern in showing us how to use a pad and latter in my stereotype of female psychology undergrads always fashionably uniformed).

But, my late readings of books or articles that use either psychological or psychoanalytical theories have proof me wrong. It is time to let those images go. No prior judgment. Psychosis is eve
Mohammed Abujayyab
This book is incredibly honest and would put Sartre's introduction to "The Wretched of the Earth" in context. If you don't want to go through the whole book; the introduction, the first chapter and the conclusion make the case about "the Black destiny" being "White". The most emotionally charged chapter for me that is worth coming back to more than once is the fifth. While many folks refer to this book and its central theme of psychoanalysis, I don't find the content as important as the emotiona ...more
Karlo Mikhail
A rambling mix of psychoanalytic discourse, philosophical insights, literary prowess, and righteous indignation against racism. But its wide range is as much its strength as well as its weakness. We have strong points every now and then. Yet this is drowned by an author grappling with the impacts of white oppression over the blacks but without clearly teasing out the corollary course of action. This is best read as an early work rather than a canon that defines Fanon. The weaknesses inthis work ...more
Abimelech Abimelech
I am a little busy right now but this another fucking great book. I actually do want to write a thorough review on it but if you look hard enough you can find the brilliant text charitably pasted online without much effort. The introduction alone is Melvillean hair-standing immortal kind of proclamation. This year is off to such a great start reading-wise in the face of this savage blizzard. I hope the academic courses and other secret courses go equally as planned. I feel like a piece of shit f ...more
Cullen Enn
Do Hoteps pretend to be followers of Fanon, and this work in particular? If so, have they ever read the last chapter? Or do they just quote the homophobic parts of this book?

Confession: i've had this on my shelf for almost *twenty* years but had previously only read a few pages. I was inspired to give it a go after seeing Lewis Gordon's amazing talk a few weeks back - and wanted to actually engage *this* text before engaging *him* engaging *it*.

I agree with all comments regarding Fanon's outrigh
Rianna Jade
I really won't do this justice so I won't be bother, but I'll remind you to be critical especially when reading the chapters on the 'MOC and the white woman' and 'WOC and the white man'.
Hanan Alzu'bi
رائع رغم صعوبته خاصة بالانجليزية، فانون متقدم عن عصره بمراحل وعن عصرنا ربما، ينصح به.
Scrapes away with three stars. Powerful, poetic, poignant intro and conclusion. Hit or miss insights entombed within; lessened in impact due to Fanon's constant use of Freudian hocus-pocus to form said insights rather than psychological observation pooled from breadth of experience and divorced from archetype (I cringed when Fanon drew parallels between dreams and phalli). The Anti-Oedipus in me deems this facile; the Black Man in me adores (most of--some ideas presented are, understandably, out ...more
Deborah Palmer
Excellent book. Some say his books are difficult to read but despite some of the medical/psychiatric termingologies he was always on point and what he writes is still relevant in today's world. He is a fantastic writer whose analogies and stories resonant with the 21st century reader.

Surprisingly I read Black Skin White Masks in two days. I had heard that this was a difficult book to read and understand but I did not have any trouble with it. Mr. Fanon did use plenty of medical terminologies how
Mar 29, 2008 Huyen rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: renee
Recommended to Huyen by: chris lamonica
Not easy, but irresistible. In fact, some parts of it are very difficult to understand because they require a certain amount of understanding of psychoanalysis. The book is merely 200 pages but it took me a handsome 7 hours because there were some lines I had to read up to 5 times to finally grasp. Some parts are very random with a combination of excerpts from many different authors and don't follow a clear structure, which makes it a bit hard to follow. Some chapters feel like prose,
This book took me a little while to get through as I don't study a lot of psychology or philosophy and Fanon frequently references authors such as Sartre, Hegel, Mannoni, Césaire (a poet, but I don't read his work), etc. I really, really did not like chapter six where Fanon presents arguments from multiple psychoanalysts like Freud, Adler, and Jung. I just thought that was all unnecessary as Fanon provides it for the sake of a dialectical argument (you get to read all about repressed homosexuali ...more
Meghan Moloney
Black Skin White Masks confused the hell out of me when I read it in second-year English lit. It was one of my first experiences with literary criticism and also with semiotics and the theories of difference and orientalism. We read it contextually along with Edward Said and Jacques Derrida. The previous semester I'd been introduced to and bewildered by Foucault, Judith Butler, and Lacan in my women's studies course, which was taught by an English professor - luckily for me, because those theori ...more
Derek Wiltshire
There is a lot in here I do not agree with. And the things I do agree with do not seem very insightful or mind blowing observations. I think it's my fault for trying to apply his theories to the black West Africans I see around me. It just doesn't work. He can also be very vague at times. He will propose an idea and not follow it through to its logical conclusion. It's almost like these undeveloped ideas are just supposed to adorn the "bigger" ones he is more focussed on. Even though he takes a ...more
It was a truly liberating experience. The passion and poetry that he puts into his logic is breath-taking. Even though he uses some real heavies of the radical canon: Sartre, Freud-based work, Adler, Hegel, Cesaire, and Marx, his work is totally original and still feels intellectually fresh in terms of how he takes on racism. He drops some references that were new to me which I will definitely look up. There are some things specifically dealing with women that are definitely dated. Also, he deal ...more
This is excellent, though (as with his other works) the misogyny and homophobia are offensive and should not be allowed off the hook. Fanon wrote this while he lived in France (it was his doctoral dissertation when he studied psychology at Lyon), and the rhetorical mode strikes me as very "French." By this, I mean above all that he is constantly using irony and sarcasm and enacting dialectics in the first person; you have to tread carefully to know when he is speaking "straight up" and when he i ...more
this book is a wound. it is a seminal text in (to borrow from berger) ways of seeing--and, along with audre lorde's sister outsider, it taught me about the uses of anger.
Erin Cotter
Goddamn, if only literary criticism was still like this. Also, I've read this book like four times and still don't feel like I've unpacked it all.
So this seems like something I should have read while studying Black Studies in college, but maybe Fanon was a bit too intense for Santa Barbara. This book is fascinating in the exploration of the effects of colonization on the psychology/subconscious of black people (and really the flip side of that coin for white former-colonizers). While some of the thought seems outdated, it's easy to see how influential this book was for the Black Panthers, anti-colonial movements worldwide, and most direct ...more
Amber Nofetari
This is by far one of the most difficult books for me to get through. The complex vernacular makes it extremely boring at times, but nonetheless a very insightful read about racism in France and Martinique. I always appreciate a history lesson on slavery outside of the United States. Fanon is an eloquent writer as one can plainly see by reading "Black Skin White Masks". I had to read this for my world history course and though it isn't my favorite piece of literature it is an important one. I le ...more
Very interesting read. It's about the psychological violence inflicted upon black people living in white supremacist societies & cultures. The writer is from France, so it is influenced by his experiences in France & French colonies but it in no way detracts from the message. Through examples of literature, various people's anecdotes & some of his own, he explores the many ways Colonialism & racism affect people of color across the world. Whether it's a person's confusion about w ...more
I think it's fair to say that this book is gnarly. Fanon's mind was on fire when he wrote this analysis of colonial psychology. He uses Hegelian/Sartrean dialectics to explain what he sees as a psychopathology of the colonized, and calls for a new humanism that, controversially, rejects any necessary attachment to Blackness, calling for a universal recognition of consciousness. His analysis of the objectification of a racist society is entirely relevant today. An intense, important book.
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Hiding Behind Your Skin: Onwuegbute Vs Fanon 2 37 Dec 06, 2012 05:51AM  
  • Discourse on Colonialism
  • The Colonizer and the Colonized
  • The Location of Culture (Routledge Classics)
  • Black Looks: Race and Representation
  • The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double-Consciousness
  • Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature
  • A Critique of Postcolonial Reason: Toward a History of the Vanishing Present
  • Culture and Imperialism
  • Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender, and the New Racism (PB)
  • Colonialism/Postcolonialism
  • Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference
  • Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition
  • Imperial Leather: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in the Colonial Contest
  • Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times
  • Woman, Native, Other: Writing Postcoloniality and Feminism
  • Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings That Formed the Movement
  • Black Power: The Politics of Liberation
  • Alchemy of Race and Rights
Frantz Fanon was a psychiatrist, philosopher, revolutionary, and author from Martinique. He was influential in the field of post-colonial studies and was perhaps the pre-eminent thinker of the 20th century on the issue of decolonization and the psychopathology of colonization. His works have inspired anti-colonial liberation movements for more than four decades.

فرانز فانون

طبيب نفسانيّ وفيلسوف اجتم
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“Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are
presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new
evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is
extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it
is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize,
ignore and even deny anything that doesn't fit in with the core belief.”
“I am black; I am in total fusion with the world, in sympathetic affinity with the earth, losing my id in the heart of the cosmos -- and the white man, however intelligent he may be, is incapable of understanding Louis Armstrong or songs from the Congo. I am black, not because of a curse, but because my skin has been able to capture all the cosmic effluvia. I am truly a drop of sun under the earth.” 125 likes
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