It is important here to also note that Fanon draws out the condemnation visited on an African man for inter-ethnic coupling, castration, which has a corollary of “the black man who has possessed a white woman is cast out by his fellows” (Fanon 53). What Fanon is doing with this passage is two-fold, he does discuss the impact colonization has on the colonized. But, in a less obvious fashion but still importantly, he also is describing how narrow and exclusionary the white supremacist society actually is as a system of control and how easy it is to find oneself alienated from it based on something as simple a phenotype.
They are tragicomic seekers of recognition, full-of-themselves visitors in Paris who return to [Fanon’s home of] the Antilles to be “deified,” deluded foragers of civilization in a pair of “white breasts,” pathetic slaves in search of whiteness through, if not white women, at least mulattas who condescendingly offer a bit of whiteness, and so on (Gordon Location 757).
Bickle’s inability to successfully reintegrate into this system following his military service in a colonial war shows how damaging white supremacy is to not just people of color but also the colonizer. This can inform our understanding of his awkward manner further.
This behavior is diagnosed as an abandonment neurosis. It is a contradictory set of desires that directly oppose each other.
I do not want to be loved. Why? Because one day, a very long time ago, I attempted to have an object relation and I was abandoned… Since I was abandoned, I shall make the other suffer, and abandoning the other will be the direct expression of my need for revenge… The abandonment neurotic demands proof. He is no longer content with isolated statements. He has lost confidence. Before forming an objective relationship, he demands repeated proof from his partner. His underlying attitude is “not to love so as not to be abandoned.” He is extremely demanding. He believes he is entitled to every sort of reparation (Fanon 56, 58).
This is the neurosis of white supremacy and the ideology of America.
…Fanon tried to go further with this association of sexuality and the white man’s image of the black man… [He] attempted to show how it was possible to expand theories of feminine sexuality by introducing the prevalence of the fantasy-ridden myth about blacks and their sexual-aggressive potency, into the developmental process of women (Gendzier 55).
Travis Bickle is revolted by this world and ideology for reasons quite different from Fanon. This was also written of by W.E.B. Du Bois in the opening essay in The Souls of Black Folk:
After the Egyptian and Indian, the Greek and Roman, the Teuton and Mongolian, the Negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight in this American world,—a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world. It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his twoness,—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder. The history of the American Negro is the history of this strife,—this longing to attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self. In this merging he wishes neither of the older selves to be lost. He would not Africanize America, for America has too much to teach the world and Africa. He would not bleach his Negro soul in a flood of white Americanism, for he knows that Negro blood has a message for the world. He simply wishes to make it possible for a man to be both a Negro and an American, without being cursed and spit upon by his fellows, without having the doors of Opportunity closed roughly in his face (Du Bois).
What is to be done? “We shall see that another solution is possible. It implies restructuring the world” (Fanon 63).