Is anyone else missing pages 130-131 in the handout? With this omission in mind, the following is what I’ve gleaned from our reading:
COLONIALISM’S DOMINO EFFECT
That colonialism instills the idea of other is nothing new. This topic has been addressed in literature since the time of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” and probably long before. Thanks to the English Empire, the Irish, American Indians and Negros (to use Fanon’s term) have all fallen prey to definitions such as “savage, uncivilized cannibals.” What is most distressing about Fanon’s piece, published in 1952, is that the European cultural lens of the past has been perpetuated with such longevity.
I analyzed my heredity, I made a complete audit of my ailment. I wanted to be typically Negro – it was no longer possible. I wanted to be white – that was a joke. And when I tried, on the level of ideas and intellectual activity, to reclaim my negritude, it was snatched away from me. Proof was present that my effort was only a term of the dialectic. (132)
His vigorous and varied forms of retaliation only temporarily appease him. Holding fast to reason, anger, and negritude only fail him. To read Fanon’s piece, it’s difficult to know how to break the cycle.
Fanon challenges Sarte, “friend of the colored peoples” (133), who seeks to identify and simultaneously block the source of the experience of being black, forgetting that “the Negro suffers in his body quite differently from the white man” (138). The color of his skin makes Fanon a third party to his own his body (110), fully and dysfunctionally aware of how he is seen through white eyes. Unlike a discrimination against the Jews, a Jew can become invisible in a sea of white. A person with black skin is never afforded that luxury. While racial discrimination requires the constant rebuilding of his identity, he returns finally to a previous alignment with negritude, what Sarte describes as “the root of its own destruction … a transition and not a conclusion” (133).
Negritude needs further explanation. It is the appreciation for all that being black encompasses, including history, culture and destiny. It not only strives to recognize the black colonial experience, it also attempts to redefine it. The term, proudly coined by Aimé Césaire, embraces the French meaning “black” as well as the derogatory Martinique term “nigger.” Likened to the Marxist view, Césaire is said to equate white men with capitalism and black men with the labor force. To see the structure of racism in this light, it is easy to connect Althusser’s reproduction of labor, and thus racism, as a self perpetuated machine.
PERPETUATED BY SURVIVAL
Sadly, Fanon sees no end to the cycle. He identifies the fear of a realized black identity under the more fearful blue eye of a white society and points out that one way to break with the cycle is to explode. Refusing to be anything other than whole, Fanon continually forces himself to see who he is as a whole, refusing to see a lack or to suffer the fate of an amputee (140). Embracing Negritude one more time, he cannot see himself without acknowledging who he is in the face of his own history.
Interestingly, Césaire was not only a politician in Martinique at the time Fanon had returned there, he also wrote “A Tempest,” a 70’s modernization of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.” Both deal with the residual questions and issues of colonization.
Keva and I have a strong affinity for “A Tempest” since acting it out last semester. I still have the prop we beat our audience with. Props rule.