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205 pages, Kindle Edition
First published January 1, 1952
"The black man is comparaison. That is the first truth. He is comparaison in the sense that he is constantly preoccupied with self-assertion and the ego ideal. Whenever he is in the presence of someone else, there is always the question of worth and merit." 68%
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 to justify the extermination of men.This book is to The Wretched of the Earth for me as The Mandarins is to The Second Sex, meaning I came looking for brilliance and left with more cringe than awe. I'm giving this one more of a benefit of a doubt because it was never written with me, a white woman, in mind, as well as the simple fact that Fanon is worth reading period. For every contemptuous generalization and psychoanalytic obsession there is pure, inspiring, snarky genius that is as applicable to these Ferguson times as they were when they were written, and I won't hesitate to utilize all I can get my hands on, intended audience or no.
Once and for all I will state this principle: A given society is racist or it is not.One thing Fanon does exceedingly well in this work is take all the defensive subjectivity that bigotry has been imbued with and give it back to those affected. However, his stating that he is not using the story of one to generalize for all doesn't help when every black woman is stripped of agency and every homosexual is defined as a mental illness. It is these particular aspects that, among others, show the triumphs and failures of the conversational style Fanon wrote this work in. When he is good, he stirs the heart and opens the future and lets the powers of mind and soul run free; when he is bad, he invokes the sort of internalized misogyny/cisnormativity that makes hooks and co's' criticism not only understandable, but amazing in its lack of kick-you-in-the-face. I know, I know, the angry black woman is a trope, but if this didn't result in anger, I'd be concerned.
To these objections I reply that the subject of our study is the dupes and those who dupe them, the alienated, and that if there are white men who behave naturally when they meet Negroes, they certainly do not fall within the scope of our examination. If my patient’s liver is functioning as it should, I am not going to take it for granted that his kidneys are sound.Beyond the clitoral-vaginal-I don't even know what else was being thrown around to explain psychological development (which falls apart when confronted with the statistic that one/two in 1000 get surgery after birth to "normalize" genital appearance so good luck with your binary approach in a spectrum), there's a serious acknowledgement of history and culture and all the other things many black people the world do not have as firm an entitlement to as most folks of European descent. There's also a pointing out of "Yes, representation is good, but the people who are dying because of this shit get first priority," which bears reiterating in any neoliberal context. So, intersectionality. Ish. The prose is great, at any rate.
I wonder sometimes whether school inspectors and government functionaries are aware of the role they play in the colonies. For twenty years they poured every effort into programs that would make the Negro a white man. In the end, they dropped him and told him, "You have an indisputable complex of dependence on the white man."P.S. I cannot wait to get my hands on Notebook of a Return to the Native Land because of all of Fanon's glorious quotebombing. It was much like a Goodreads Review in that respect, which was interesting while it lasted.
It is not because the Indo-Chinese has discovered a culture of his own that he is in revolt. It is because “quite simply” it was, in more than one way, becoming impossible for him to breathe.
L'explosion n'aura pas lieu aujourd'hui. Il est trop tôt... ou trop tard. Je n'arrive point armé de vérités décisives.Je suis en conflit avec moi-même. D'un côté, nous avons devant nous un texte incroyablement important et influent, qui dénonce le racisme, le colonialisme, l'impérialisme et l'état général de la société, et ce de manière absolument puissante et incisive ; et pourtant, d'un autre côté, ce texte — publié au début des années cinquante ! — est, triste à dire, en grande partie un produit de son temps. Fanon, dans ce texte, est indéniablement misogyne. De plus, il est indéniablement homophobe. Décevant, sans doute oui ; cas de rupture, peut-être non. À mon avis, il faut plus étudier Fanon que l'écouter. Indéniablement erronées étaient ses idées et ses théories, c'est vrai : mais en outre, cruciales. Donc comment concilier ces idées contradictoires ? Ah... ne me demandez pas ; je n'y connais rien du tout !