Textbook: None. Selected writings found online will constitute the textbook.
Read the following information on Frantz Fanon. Relate the information to the following questions to the best of your ability.
(1) Frantz Fanon was a Black man who was upset about the mistreatment of Black People. Should this have kept him from becoming involved in the Algerian Revolution?
(2) Do you think Frantz Fanon's passion had much to do with how he responded to injustice, inequality and oppression? Why or why not?
(3) Frantz Fanon died at a very early age, yet he had a full and relevant life. In your opinion, is it better to live a long life and accomplish little of note, or run the risk of living a short life while contributing to grand accomplishments?
(4) What can be taken out of the fact that Fanon married a white woman? Did that negate his Blackness or commitment to revolutionary progress?
(5) Frantz Fanon was a man of action. Was that to his advantage or disadvantage? Was that to the advantage or disadvantage of human beings everywhere?
Frantz Fanon was born into a middle
class Black family on the island of Martinique in 1925. His mother
was of mixed race, his father of West African descent.
Fanon was a brilliant, passionate, talkative, and energetic child. Early on, he demonstrated that he was not only a person of words, but of deeds also. As a teenager during World War 11, he slipped away from home to undergo military training in Dominica. Since Martinique had been a French colony since 1635, and Black school children were taught they were French, he wanted to fight for France against Germany, but was unable to. In 1944, he was able to serve in the French army and fought as part a force from North Africa. He was badly wounded, hospitalized and received a medal for his bravery.
After the war he stayed in France,
studied psychiatry and married a French woman, Josie Dublé.
Angered by French racism, injustice and arrogance, he chose to
work in an Algerian psychiatric ward rather than a French one.
He soon took up the Algerian cause in Algeria's war for independence
against the French. In 1956, Fanon gave up his French job as a
psychiatrist, renounced his French citizenship and started working
full time in support of the Algerian Revolution.
Fanon became one of Algeria's leading spokesmen. The Algerians made him an official ambassador, and he lobbied for the Algerian cause in Africa. He was a wanted man by French authorities and was wounded while performing his Algerian duties. Flown to Rome to get medical treatment for his wounds, the car that was supposed to meet him was blown up by a bomb. Once at the hospital, there was a machine attack on his hospital bed. He was able to outwit death only by anticipating the attack and having himself moved to another room. But his life, though full and relevant, was not to be long. In 1960 he caught leukemia, and died in 1961, only a few months before the Algerian revolution came to a triumphant close.
Fanon published three books in his short life. Black Skin, White Masks, which explores how Black People are psychologically enslaved by colonization, is based on his life in Martinique and France. By far his most relevant book, Black Skin, White Masks is the basis of the "Psychology 101" course taught at this web site. A second book, A Dying Colonialism, is a series of essays on the revolution in Algeria, and The Wretched of the Earth, his most popular book, is a revolutionary thesis on decolonization throughout the world, particularly among people of color. A fourth book, Toward the African Revolution, is a collection of previously published essays that was collected and published after Fanon's death.
Very little is heard about Frantz Fanon nowadays. That is proof of how much white power despised him. Supporters of justice and humanity throughout the world applaud his commitment and foresight, and cherish his writings and contributions, but supporters of white power point to apparent contradictions in his life and the "idealism" of his philosophy. To begin with, they say he married a white woman. What they fail to mention is that his wife moved into the world Fanon envisioned, Fanon did not move into the world that produced his wife. Secondly, critics point to how the Algerian people treated Fanon as an inferior after the revolution ended instead of giving him due credit for the role he had played in their liberation. The inference is that Fanon made a mistake by supporting the struggle of an Arabic people, and should have been supporting a Black African struggle instead. What they fail to mention is that Fanon was dedicated to the Algerian struggle because it was a fight for justice and equality. He realized it was not the final stage in the decolonization process and would have been disappointed but not surprised that the Algerian revolution was overtaken by reactionary forces after the French were defeated. Fanon would have been surprised, at least temporarily, by the inability of Algerians to recognize him for the role he had contributed to their cause, but would not have regretted the contributions he had made. Fanon's values were the real reason he supported the Algerian revolution, was so committed to it. Those values did not turn reactionary when the Algerian people proved incapable of elevating themselves to a higher level of human development.
Fanon's critics also talk about how time has made his beliefs and teachings seem naive. In this, they reveal their own naiveté. Time has not disproved Fanon's understanding of the revolutionary process, it has only revealed the determination of elitists to keep that process from running its course. Advocates of white power have relentlessly and unceasingly attacked the forces of progress and equality, trying to stunt their growth and snuff out the natural affinity everyday men and women have for them. The forces of progress, on the other hand, have done little to stunt the efforts of those who believe in the inequality of human beings. Practically unhindered, this ill advised approach to human interaction has taken humanity down a path that leads to worse and worse scenarios. It is therefore white power and its accompanying emphasis on capitalism, white superiority and different levels of political exclusivism that time has been cruel to. It is the role of intelligent people, the Frantz Fanons who yet live, to put this cruel system to rest.
Like every Profile in Black, Frantz Fanon was, first and foremost, a person who acted consistent with his convictions, even when he stood to lose something of value. Fanon, like every Profile in Black, realized that he could do without the goodies he would lose by standing up for principles like justice, equality and fair play. On the other hand, what he and humanity stood to lose by holding on to the goodies, by not protesting against injustice, was too great a price to pay. Frantz Fanon was no dummy, and Frantz Fanon was no coward. That is why Frantz Fanon is a Profile In Black.