Fanon and More

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As a preface to this blog post, I fully empathize with how the lecture was opened yesterday. I also feel a little weird writing about “black” issues, because I don’t feel I have the experience or knowledge to talk about them in a way that is appropriate. I can’t remember where, but de Beauvoir mentions that men can’t write about women’s issues because they are both observers and party to the issues, and as a white woman I feel like I might be in a similar situation, even if it’s not something I’m aware in daily life.

I was particularly interested to read this text because last term, in an Indigenous Studies course, I read part of a new piece of work called “Red Skin, White Masks”. Although I don’t remember anything else about that text in particular, there was another text we read that I’ve been reminded of reading Fanon (and, actually, reading de Beauvoir). The idea of ‘Negritude’ or the Black Soul, and the eternal feminine, reminded me of a concept from Thomas King’s ‘The Inconvenient Indian’. He presents different forms of “Indians”, one of which is the ‘Dead Indian’, the traditional images of Indigenous people that we see, just like with Y a bon Banania, on product labels or on the covers of sports teams. They are “the stereotypes and cliches that North America has conjured up out of experience and out of its collective imaginings and fears” (King 53). This is like the ‘black skin’ that is projected onto others, “the livery the white man has fabricated for him” (Fanon 17).

I’m reminded of watching comedian, Trevor Noah, when reading Fanon. He is South African, and talks a lot about how he always wanted to be black when he was growing up. Just like the people in the second and third chapter of Fanon (and of the female in de Beauvoir, for that matter), their biological reality doesn’t make them black, or woman. There is a second stage of becoming, often associated with conforming to the ideals and stereotypes perpetuated.