Bluring the Black and White

22 Feb

Frantz Fanon essentially argues that the only way to achieve complete freedom from European colonial domination is “nothing short of the liberation of the man of color from himself” (8).  He proposes a liberation through the understanding of the racial inferiority complex caused by “the juxtaposition of the white and black races” (12); but I question the importance Fanon places on this juxtaposition.  In hunter-gatherer and other “pre-state” societies (i.e. small-scale societies without a functioning state or state-like system) Jared Diamond argues in The World until Yesterday that there were only three groups of people: known members of the community, known enemies, and (rarely) strangers that were assumed to be enemies.  So isn’t the perceived superiority of European culture and reason used as a way to distinguish between ‘members of the community’ and ‘foreigners who are probably enemies?’  If Africa had been full of whiteness instead of blackness, would the outcome of slavery and colonization really have been any different?  Wouldn’t a cultural distinction still have been invoked to separate “Europeans” from “Africans”?

I’m not implying that we ignore racism, but questioning Fanon’s solution for liberating the blackness from the idea of weakness and victimhood.  Instead of focusing on identifying the dichotomy of white and black, which only adds to the loss of identity of those who are “Not yet white, no longer wholly black” (138), wouldn’t it be more constructive to adopt elements of the white into the black, and the black into the white in a process of transculturation?  The white and black have become so entwined with each other that one cannot exist without the other. Even Aimé Césaire’s embrace of negritude can only be a means of identifying the elements of the blackness that could enrich the white, not an end in of itself.  Through a mutual process of cultural enrichment, the white can be redeemed by regaining the negritude’s captivation with “the essence of things” (Césaire, 35) while the black can achieve liberation from ideological domination of the white.

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