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In terms of when a woman of color couples with a European man, Fanon says

In this chapter devoted to the relationship between the woman of color and the European male we shall attempt to determine to what extent authentic love remains impossible as long as this feeling of inferiority or this Adlerian exaltation, this overcompensation that seems to be indicative of the black Weltanschauung, has not been purged (Fanon 25).

Gordon adds to this:

Fanon’s treatment of the impact of alienated love on women of color anticipated Toni Morrison’s observation in The Bluest Eye: “The best hiding place was love. Thus the conversion from pristine sadism to fabricated hatred, to fraudulent love. It was a small step to Shirley Temple. I learned much later to worship her, just as I learned to delight in cleanliness, knowing, even as I learned, that the change was adjustment without improvement.” What is the impact of antiblack racism on love, where one seeks in the eyes of one’s lover and from the words that flow from her or his mouth a form of justification of one’s existence? Fanon and Morrison demonstrate a special failure here, a failure to escape the social reality principle of antiblackness through a loving whiteness. Fanon’s position is not that interracial relationships must be pathological efforts to escape blackness. His argument is that where whiteness is the basis of the liaison, the effort is pathological and hence a form of failure (Gordon Location 863).

From these coordinates he describes how a woman tries to whiten herself so to become acceptable within the confines of European society, what he calls lactification, a term whose root is related to milk and describes a desire to become phenotypically like that beverage. She refuses to engage in romance with other men of color so not to sully herself. “‘Me, I would never accept to marry a nigger for anything in the world.’” This attitude horrifies Fanon because the woman in question not only is harming herself. She is a schoolteacher and so will communicate this bigotry to her future students in Martinique. “It is not hard to guess what will come from that” (Fanon 30). Fanon describes this world as insular, created by a rage at feeling diminished by white supremacy, and that the only way to escape it is through whiteness. This is the location from which Travis Bickle is also excluded.

His nonconformity is not on the basis of skin color, it stems from his psychological state, but it is exclusion by white supremacist patriarchy still.

The level of investment in blackness as evil was such that all evil, even evil that was patently not black and even antiblack, was invested in the nègre. But Fanon’s conclusion goes further: “The nègre represents the biological danger” (Pn, 134). Fear of the biological becomes fear of the nègre: “The nègre symbolizes the biological” (Pn, 135) (Gordon Location 1367).

“The withdrawal of the ego as a successful defense mechanism is impossible for the black man. He needs white approval” (Fanon 34). The permeation of this goes as deep that God is seen as European and any suggestion otherwise is blasphemy. “Whites can do no wrong. They are gods” (Gordon Location 950). Yet simultaneously Fanon says of negrophobes

[I]t’s not the hatred of the black man that drives them; they don’t have the guts. Hatred is not a given; it is a struggle to acquire hatred, which has to be dragged into being, clashing with acknowledged guilt complexes. Hatred cries out to exist, and he who hates must prove his hatred through action and appropriate behavior. In a sense he has to embody hatred (Fanon 35).

From here, using examples provided by literary sources, Fanon describes the psychological coordinates of a woman of color who involves herself with European men in the name of “saving the race” (37). He then highlights the example of a so-called “mulatto” woman being courted by a black man.

Fanon says that the woman of color wishes to “evolve”, to become European by marrying only Europeans, and that this causes an overcompensation tendency in her behaviors called affective erethism. This essentially means that both Europeans and Black/Brown people are being psychologically impacted by white supremacy.

With these points articulated Fanon now begins his critique of the Mannoni book cited by Arthur M. Eckstein regarding the Ford film, saying “We propose to show that Monsieur Mannoni, although he has devoted 225 pages to the study of the colonial situation, has not yet grasped the true coordinates” (65). His critique is based in the notion Mannoni proposes about what causes the inferiority complex in the colonized individual, saying that it is not “‘latent in him in childhood'” (65), that instead this complex is symptomatic of colonialism and colonialism only. In simpler terms, the colonial subject is not born feeling less than the colonizer, s/he is trained by white supremacy to do so from an early age.

Mannoni posits in his work that colonial exploitation and racism is somehow phenomenologically different than other types, which Fanon rebuts with a vigor that compares the plight of people of color to European Jews less than one decade after the end of the Second World War and the latter group’s victimization. From here he cites Sartre’s logic on anti-Semitism so to describe the hatred of people of color.

Sartre’s analysis of the Jewish question touched Fanon precisely because the Jew among Christians was over-determined from within. He was judged irrespective of what and who he was and the judgment was imposed on him so that it became virtually impossible for him, in a predominantly Christian and anti-Semitic environment (and the two were not always identical) to free himself of the unstated views of his associates. The syndrome of ensuing self-hatred and shame were equally familiar. For both black man and Jew, contact with racism provoke similar reactions and derived from similar roots. The anti-Semite and racist were often one and the same man, and if they did not recognize their own compatibility, circumstances offered opportunities to cement their alliance. Sartre’s description of the anti-Semite is close to Fanon’s image of the racist (Gendzier 53).

He then pivots to a passage by his mentor Aimé Césaire in Discourse on Colonialism wherein Nazism is described as a “boomerang effect” (Fanon 71), that the violence of fascism was the brutality of colonialism visited upon the colonizer’s shores. Mannoni argues that colonialism is the work of just “adventurers and politicians” (71) while the respectable members of the colonizer society are autonomous and removed from the violence. This is unacceptable to Fanon and he mocks Mannoni in response, jestingly suggesting that Francophone Blacks should take solace in the alleged fact France is not as racist as America. This point here is quite intriguing to augment our understanding of both Ford and Scorsese’s films.

To be continued…

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