Monthly Archives: February 2015

The Value (?) of Stereotypes

I found the “Negritude” component of the presentation yesterday to be the most fascinating; elements of the phenomenon described seem to have evolved since Black Skin, White MasksĀ  into what today is black pride. That Fanon believes such attitudes counterproductive to producing conducive racial discourse was surprising, butĀ upon hearing the “existence precedes essence” reasoning, it does make sense. Still, would black pride be locking black people into images and stereotypes that are ultimately derogatory? Or is it so fundamentally different from the Negritude described that that is no longer the case? Or is Fanon, in any case, wrong?

Thinking of questions reminds me of some aspects of humour and parody with racial undertones. The skits performed by the comediennes Key and Peele come to mind. I watched one in which they claimed to “adjust the amount of blackness” depending on the ethnicities of their company; claims that appeal to perceptions the collective hold about black and white people. These are perceptions that are rooted in stereotypes and mass culture–that we know what they are talking about–does this mean we are unable to truly eradicate belief and adherence to these stereotypes? “Black humour” and cultural practices such as black people using the N-word among themselves–these seem to be cathartic processes, an erasure of past pains by making them ridiculous, or a subjugation of the power of that word by invoking its historical black-white relation–“humour as tragedy plus time” come to life. Would such humour be part of the solution? I do not know, and whether it contributes to the easing of racial tensions seems to be presumptuous criteria for judging its value.

As some have already mentioned, I feel vaguely uncomfortable and/or patronizing expressing my thoughts.