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The Struggle for a Self

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Summary

Most readers of the Black Skin, White Masks are not aware of whether Fanon wrote for or against perpetual racism. There are opinions that Fanon in his book tried to analyze sociogenic racial categories, which belong to a historical setting with extensive racial profiling. Fanon provided the book with a historical perspective, alluding to past occurrences. However, the main message of this work appears to be a silent cry of people within society that suffers racism and stereotyping in the face of modern day poverty. Fanon projects his anger on those who continue to suffer from the ‘superiority complex’, subjecting others to horrible unnatural conditions just to satisfy their egos.

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The anger in the book is not bound to a single event in history. Fanon feels greatly aggrieved because of the fact that western civilization continues to exert pressure on the native population for it to abandon its culture and adopt a foreign one under perpetual domination. Due to this grinding experience, Fanon goes into deep study to show how the black people often struggle to fit in the white  society. However, such a struggle, according to Fanon, is an exercise of futility as it leads to further alienation of the black people from the white men. The major themes of this piece of work are self-consciousness and fulfillment of an individual way, without necessarily questioning self-worth and importance. The book examines the journey of hope and determination for those who have had to endure western civilization and who feel that it is time to demonstrate against the white Empire.

Chapter 1. “The Negro and Language”

In chapter one, Fanon expresses the view that he black man has two sides; one is related to his fellow “negroes” while the other inner dimension is connected to the white men. According to Fanon, a kind of interaction that the black man has with these two dimensions is very different. The reason of this difference is colonial subjugation that most likely affects the whites. According to Fanon, colonization results in a group abandoning its language to take up a foreign language of the colonizers. In his own words, Fanon states that once a group is colonized, it is under duress to abandon its own language in order to take up the language of new masters. By “renouncing their blackness”, the “negroes” are considered to be whiter and assume an elevated status in society (18). Adopting a new culture of the white men further helps elevate the “negro’s” social status accompanied by a renewed feeling of power.

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Fanon provides an example where a black man residing in France undergoes a complete transformation from the person he used to be, thereby acquiring a new identity. Fanon states that the black man adopts the French culture, exhibiting a characteristic where, in generic terms, “his phenotype undergoes mutation” (19). Prior to this transformation, Fanon states that the “negro” had already started experiencing change in preparation for his new acquired status. After traveling to France, the black man returns, being a completely different person and avoiding traditions of his motherland. Together with his family, they return with a sole belief that some transformation has taken place and that the elevation in social status cannot be ignored. It is revealed by their behavior since they start to fancy themselves, reflecting a mannerism change coupled with instructions given to the children to avoid using Creole and dialect.

 Chapter 5 “The Fact of Blackness”

Fanon writes the book to illustrate what he went through because of extreme racism characterized by white supremacy and a “wish to please” Negro society (107). Fanon elucidates his struggles to fit in the white society and thoroughly describes the experiences that black people undergo in an attempt to reaffirm their identity against a stereotypical culture. Fanon gives an example where a black man is forced to identify himself as an individual based on the way white people react when they are around him. The situation alludes to the idea that black people are a long way from attaining what the white people assume to “be human” (109). Black people react to racial profiling and stereotyping by trying to assimilate the white  culture, which alienates them even more.

Chapter 7 “The Negro and Recognition”

In this chapter, Fanon focuses on the Negroes who feel that they are less superior, trying to acquire some superiority by assimilating the white man’s culture. Fanon contends that the advice that should be given is to “resign yourself to remaining in the place that has been assigned to you” (216). The author suggests that the fight for equality will still last a great while. Despite showing some signs of acceptance in contemporary culture, the white men will never fully assimilate black people to this dimension. Fanon argues that attaining recognition through unorthodox means is never the solution to reaching self-recognition and consciousness. The author gives an example of a slave Negro set free by the master without any struggle for his freedom. Fanon demonstrates an opinion that this liberated Negro “knows nothing of the cost of freedom” (219).

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