On Franz Fanon

Fanon2 Zia Sardar in Naked Punch via the excellent Amitava Kumar:

The opening gambit of Black Skin, White Masks ushers us towards an imminent experience: the explosion will not happen today. But a type of explosion is about to unfold in the text in front of us, in the motivations it seeks, in the different world it envisages and aims to create. We are presented with a series of statements, maxims if you like, both obvious and not so obvious: I do not come with timeless truths;fervour is the weapon of choice of the impotent; the black man wants to be white, the white man slaves to reach a human level. We are left with little doubt we are confronting a great deal of anger. The resentment takes us to a particular place: a zone of non-being, an extraordinary sterile and arid region, where black is not a man, and mankind is digging into its own flesh to find meaning.

But this not simply a historic landscape, although Black Skin, White Masks is a historic text, firmly located in time and place. Fanon’s anger has a strong contemporary echo. It is the silent scream of all those who toil in abject poverty simply to exist in the hinterlands and vast conurbations of Africa. It is the resentment of all those marginalised and firmly located on the fringes in Asia and Latin America. It is the bitterness of those demonstrating against the Empire, the superiority complex of the neo-conservative ideology, and the banality of the ‘War on Terror’. It is the anger of all whose cultures, knowledge systems and ways of being that are ridiculed, demonised, declared inferior and irrational, and, in some cases, eliminated. This is not just any anger. It is the universal fury against oppression in general, and the perpetual domination of the Western civilisation in particular.

This anger is not a spontaneous phenomenon. It is no gut reaction, or some recently discovered passion for justice and equity. Rather, it is an anger borne out of grinding experience, painfully long self analysis, and even longer thought and reflection.