Ioana's Reviews > Black Skin, White Masks

Black Skin, White Masks by Frantz Fanon
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Feb 22, 09

bookshelves: post-colonialism, race
Read in February, 2009

"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 attacked for his corporeality. It is his tangible personality that is lynched. It is his actual being that is dangerous..." (142). The white man, who has been obsessed with eradicating the body out of collective consciousness for millennia, now associates this abjected domain of the body with the black man, and constructs it as the essential evil Other. The white man does this because he is insecure—he does this out of hatred, a hatred that he works to cultivate, that consumes his time and energy. The white man is dehumanized. Projecting his fears onto the black man, the white man shirks his responsibility to acknowledge his guilt (83) in instrumentalizing the black man (206).

Even though this work was written over 50 years ago in a literal colony of Europe, sadly it remains only too relevant in the United States today as a condition between people that allegedly have the same legal and human rights. This is largely made possible by the many ever-so-casual-racists (who vehemently deny they are racist)—people who, for example, complain about affirmative action as unfair to them personally (nevermind history and generations of enslavement and stolen opportunities). Fanon writes, "outside university circles there is an army of fools... Granted, these fools are the product of a psychological-economic substructure. But that does not get us anywhere" (18). An education for racial tolerance from which we are sadly very far removed is necessary for moving towards a world of love.
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