Andrew Denny – Franz and Phycological Inferiority

During the introduction and first paragraph of his novel, “Black Skin White Masks”, delves into the psychological effects of how postcolonial racism perpetrates through the black mindset. Fanon asserts that the modern racism has created an inferiority complex in the black mindset. This inferiority has caused blacks to have to feel like they must become white or prove themselves to the white man in order to truly experience humanity. Fanon asserts that this inequality springs out of the economic gap and perceived difference in history and prestige between the white and black races and the internalization of this by the two groups. He highlights these physiological affects to show why the black man believes to truly experience humanity one must adopt western white cultures. This is shown through Fanon’s discussion of language. He shows why Antilles blacks feel they must adopt the French language to be more respected and civilized. Without knowledge of French, Antilles blacks feel dehumanized and talked down to whites who don’t acknowledge the culture of these people and assume it is because they are less intelligent or less human that they can’t speak French.

I chose this argument because I thought it was really fascinating given that Frantz Fanon (after some research) was a black author born in the Antilles but educated in France and, this book was first published in French. Throughout this section he tried to straddle his identity between his upbringing and his experience in western culture. This is shown by the fact that he uses phrases like, “my colored brothers”, yet writes the book in French which based off his argument the more French you learn the more distant you are from your past. I think this was very interesting because it plays off some of the discussions we had about identity and having to place yourself in a set box. By doing this I think Fanon was trying to show that his identity is complex despite how his upbringing, in French society, disqualifies him from being truly French and his education separates him from his home.

At my panel I would have Frantz Fanon, Karl Marx, and Maalouf. The questions I would ask are:

-Given Locke’s Second Treatsie of Government, do you think humans are born equal as he says or are their inherent inequalities? Like economic or physcological that makes some people inferior?

– In what ways do you think modern governments and economic systems force people to lose/give up their identities?

– Whether it be racial or economic dehumanization, how best can these groups regain their rights and humanity?

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