Huyen's Reviews > Black Skin, White Masks

Black Skin, White Masks by Frantz Fanon
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Mar 29, 08

bookshelves: philosophy-psychology
Recommended to Huyen by: chris lamonica
Recommended for: renee
Read in March, 2008

Brilliant.
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, others like psychoanalysis, others mere description.
Apart from that, the book has some great passages that almost brought me to tears. Fanon says from the start that he doesn't believe in fervor. But every single line in the book carries great weight, not only of vehement critique of European racism but also the outrage of an anguished soul of a white Negro at the traumatization of his fellows. Anger but not vindictiveness. The soul of the Negroes became exactly what the white civilization wanted it to become: denying one's roots, fantasizing whitening and losing the sense of worth in one's existence. Or as Fanon put it "It is the racist who creates his inferior" or Sartre "It is the anti-Semite who makes the Jew". What I find very interesting about this book is Fanon doesn't follow the well-trodden path of exclusively decrying European racism but he emphasizes on the liberation of the Negroes from an inferiority complex and the revival of the desire to find one's value through their existence.
The last chapter is the most inspiring, simply shines with its brilliance. Here are some of my fav quotes:
"No, I do not have the right to go and cry out my hatred at the white man. I do not have the duty to murmur my gratitude to the white man.
If the white man challenges my humanity, I will impose my whole weight as a man on his life and show him that I am not that "sho' good eating" that he persists in imagining.
I have one right alone: that of demanding human behavior from the other.
One duty alone: that of not renouncing my freedom through my choices.
The disaster of the man of color lies in the fact that he was enslaved.
The disaster and the inhumanity of the white man lie in the fact that somewhere he has killed man.
But I as a man of color, to the extent that it becomes possible for me to exist absolutely, do not have the right to lock myself into a world of retroactive reparations.
I, the man of color, want only this:
That the tool never possess the man. That the enslavement of man by man cease forever. That is, of one by another. That it be possible for me to discover and to love man, wherever he may be.
The Negro is not. Any more than the white.
Both must turn their backs on the inhuman voices which were those of their respective ancestors in order that authentic communication be possible."
I recommend this book to everyone.
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message 1: by Renee (new)

Renee When did Chris recommend this to you?


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