Monday, February 1, 2010

Frantz Fanon

Frantz Fanon’s Breakout From the Mask

He was born in the French colony of Martinique.
His parents could afford
to send him to the better school
where he studied under Aimé Césaire

Césaire taught the young Franz
that Black people have
a vast and vibrant history
that has and would continue to shake the world.

This history did not prevent
the French authorities
from abusing Black people
like young Frantz.

In spite of these experiences
Fanon joined
the French armed forces
to battle against Nazi Germany.

During the war
he was wounded and decorated.
After the war
he diligently studied the human condition.

His first book,
Black Skins, White Masks
was rejected
by the French academics.

Fanon argued that
Black people were colonized
and compelled to
take on a white identity.

On the one hand,
white people
are attracted
to the humanity of Blacks.

However, these same people
feel compelled
to reject this humanity
and favor their so-called civilization.

Fanon was a smart and diligent student
who was awarded
the most prestigious
French degree for psychiatry.

This degree
enabled him to
manage a psychiatric hospital
in Algeria.

The French had a lot to say
to medical students
like Fanon
about the Algerians.

In academic circles
they argued that Algerians
were born slackers, born liars,
born robbers, and born criminals.

Doctor Carothers
argued that
the normal African is a
“lobotomized European.”

The so-called enlightened Europeans
created some of the best farm land in Algeria.
They used this land to grow grapes for wine
and made cork for the wine bottles.

The problem with this was that Algerians
are Moslems who don’t drink alcohol.
While the French drank their wine,
Algerians when to bed hungry.

With this attitude,
most French psychiatrists
simply strapped Algerian patients to their beds
and talked about how easy their job was.

The first thing Fanon did
at the hospital was to remove
the restraints
from his patients.

Then he found that many of his patients
were farmers who effectively
tilled the land near the hospital
and their conditions improved.

He was a diligent and demanding taskmaster
who commandeered his staff
in order to improve
the condition of his many patients.

He listened to the stories
of many who had been tortured,
raped, or witnessed murder
by the French occupation forces.

He listened to the story
of the daughter of a French officer
who tortured prisoners at his home,
and the daughter heard their screams every night.

After a few years of
Fanon’s exposure to this atmosphere,
he resigned from the hospital
and joined the independence forces of the FLN.

In other words Fanon broke out
of the seemingly insane and dehumanizing
atmosphere he was born into
and joined the battle for human liberation.

Just as in the past
Fanon was extremely capable
at his new job
and became a leader of the revolution.

While no one
could break his spirit
the disease of leukemia
attacked his body.

While his body deteriorated,
Fanon waged his final battle
writing his last and best work,
The Wretched of the Earth.

Fanon showed that the Algerians
who were called born criminals
never committed any crimes against Algerians
in the years of the revolution.

The French authorities
were incapable of heeding
the lessons of Fanon
in his book.

The French President Charles De Gaulle
wanted to find a way of allowing
France to keep Algeria
ignoring the ardent desires of Algerians.

The one million French people
who lived in Algeria
wanted to maintain their way of life
and didn’t trust De Gaulle.

The French of Algeria
attempted to murder De Gaulle
and when that failed
they battled with the French armed forces.

After years of a horrendous war
the Algerians saw that this was their time.
They raised the Algerian flag
and thousands demonstrated in the streets.

A few months after these events
De Gaulle made a phone call
and ordered his representative
to negotiate a French exit from Algeria.

Many people argued that
this would never happen.
Frantz Fanon showed how colonized people
had the humanity to transform the world.

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