Wednesday, January 8, 2014
EXCERPT FROM FRANTZ FANON
EXCERPT FROM A BOOK BY FRANTZ FANON
The habit of considering racism as a mental quirk, as a psychological flaw, must be abandoned. One must consider the behavior, the defense mechanisms of the men who are a prey to racism.
In an initial phase we have seen the occupying power legitimizing its domination by scientific arguments, the "inferior race" being denied on the basis of race. Because no other solution is left, the racialized social group tries to imitate the oppressor and thereby to deracialize itself. The "inferior race" denies itself as a different race. It shares with the "superior race" the convictions, doctrines, and other attitudes concerning it.
Having witnessed the liquidation of its systems of reference, the collapse of its cultural patterns, the native can only recognize with the occupant that "God is not on his side." The oppressor, through the inclusive and frightening character of his authority, manages to impose
on the native new ways of seeing, and in particular a pejorative judgment with respect to his original forms of existing. This event, which is commonly designated as alienation is very important, and found in the official texts under the name of assimilation.
Now this alienation is never wholly successful. Whether or not it is because the oppressor quantitatively and qualitatively limits the evolution, unforeseen, disparate phenomena manifest themselves.
The inferiorized group had admitted, since the force of reasoning was implacable, that its misfortunes resulted directly from its racial and cultural characteristics.
Guilt and inferiority are the usual consequences of this dialectic. The oppressed then tries to escape these, on the one hand by proclaiming his total and unconditional adoption of the new cultural models, and
on the other, by pronouncing an irreversible condemnation of his own cultural style.
Yet the necessity that the oppressor encounters at a given point to dissimulate the forms of exploitation does not lead to the disappearance of this exploitation. The more elaborate, less crude economic relations require daily coating, but the alienation at this level remains frightful.
Having judged, condemned, abandoned his cultural forms, his language, his food habits, his sexual behavior, his way of sitting down, of resting, of laughing, of enjoying himself, the oppressed flings himself upon
the imposed culture with the desperation of a drowning man.
Developing his technical knowledge in contact with more perfected machines, entering into the dynamic circuit of industrial production, meeting men from remote regions in the framework of the concentration of capital, that is to say, on the job, discovering the assembly line, the team, the oppressed is shocked to find that he continues to be the object of racism and contempt.