Fanon blog post

sorry if this post is confusing, I’m not sure I even understand my own opinions, let alone the book they’re based on

In ‘The Lived Experience Of The Black Man’ chapter of Black Skin, White Masks, the narrator claims that he “was up against something irrational” in being “hated, detested, and despised…by an entire race” (Fanon, 97/98). This seemed obvious enough once I read it, but for some reason it never previously crossed my mind that the battle for race equality is a battle strictly between rationality and irrationality. But Fanon seems to be saying something along those lines. The divide between black and white people was created by, or at least still perseveres, because of the irrationality of white society’s racism. I think this theory seemed odd out of the blue due to the self-proclaimed reputation of rationality, science, and logic which Western society, (especially North American Society) has come to enjoy. This image of White culture still seems dominant, despite racism. Yet Fanon is encouraging black people to combat racism with rationality, reason and truth. Would this then be an example of ‘trying to be like the subject’, and giving white racists a taste of their own medicine? It’s very difficult to associate a complete race with irrationality vs. rationality, and the more I do this, the more racist I myself feel. But I don’t know if its possible to at least sound, a little racist when talking about racism even objectively. That may be why Fanon’s book was so jarring- because it wasn’t even trying to be objective, or politically correct. It was unabashed, shameless, and raw. Black Faces White Masks captured the issue of racism more vividly than something trying to be neutral would have.

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  1. I appreciate your emphasis here on how a society that prides itself on rationality can still act irrationally when it comes to things like oppression. He does try to combat this irrationality with rationality, but then he also says that doesn’t work and so he ends up trying to be irrational himself instead (102). Which didn’t work either, and they replied to his irrationality with rationality (111); as he puts it, “I couldn’t hope to win” (111). Which means, though, that really the society he was dealing with was being irrational after all.

    I also appreciate your point that it may one may sound racist when talking about racism; I felt uncomfortable in several ways when I first read this book, partly because he seems to be so sweeping about “blacks,” and “whites,” as if they all were acting in the same way. I don’t think he believes that, but the way he writes can start to paint all whites as oppressors and all blacks (at least in the Antilles) as having “white masks.” He says at one point (14-15) that though there may be whites who act “sanely,” they are not going to be what he is discussing here. So though he writes in a generalizing way, perhaps he is justified in that he’s just talking about those people who do act in the ways he’s describing.

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