Black Skin White Masks (1952) by Frantz Fanon had me thinking: is there a racist side to all of us? Somehow there’s this percieved notion of the desirable, default race that others aspire to imitate, conciously and subconciously. People, for the most part, do not tend to imitate the Japanese or the Chinese, the South Africans or the Middle Easterns; European and North American cultures and lifestyles are somehow put on a pedestal in developing nations. There’s just something about Western culture that is somewhat applicable in a lot of places. Food, technology, art, fashion, you name it. There may be traces of influences from the colonial past of plenty of the developing nations, but in a lot of cities like Kuala Lumpur, Istanbul, Seoul etc. their national identity is fading into something they reflect upon and the future looking more and more like London, New York and Berlin with their subways, malls and billboards. Why is this the case? Why is the West the current norm, the current standard?
Of course the Industrial Revolution starting in the West had a lot to do with it, and the colonial consequences of that still resonates today. Of course of all the British colonies Great Britain is going to experience more development than Bombay or Singapore, both of which only experienced independence 60-70 years ago. To a certain extent the dependancy complex does exist within those colonized, but it could be said that its more political and economical than social. The development of all those independent colonies all went towards similar directions that would see similarities to the West. Even when they have reached a certain standard, however, the stigmas still stick around. Just look at the various stereotypes that exist of various races and cultures.
As I looked at Beauvoir’s notion of the status of women as the “Other” in comparison to man last week, it could be argued that non-whites were somewhat seen to belong in another sub-category all together. Fanon talks about how even blacks try to distance themselves from other blacks by immersing themselves in Western societies and imitating them. A white women marrying a black man wouldn’t uphold her status in a white society, but it would raise the status of the black man in a black society. Like the myths surrounding women, there exists the myths that surround black men. Fanon lists a few, namely that black man has bigger penises, are a little better than animals and the idea that black is sinful and white is pure. So fear surrounding myths plays a part in it.
This fear of other races is something that still resonates within a lot of people today. Let’s be honest, some of us when walking alone at night will cross the street when encountering a black man, even if he doesn’t look harmful. Some of us only associates Arabs with terrorists. There are various others I would rather not list due to potential offense, but these ideas of subconciously classifying race has even spread to non-white societies. So if there is a racist side to all of us, is it because the effects of colonialism still lingers in everyone’s mind? Fanon seems to agree to an extent, but the success of distancing one’s self from past actions and the consequences is somewhat questionable.