Thursday, March 3, 2011

Can One Transcend the Essence of "Negrophobia"?

As a psychology major, I was especially drawn to Frantz Fanon’s theory on race. In regards to his essays, “Black Skin, White Masks,” and “Racism and Culture,” I agree with his stance on “the lived experience.” Although I obviously do not know the lived experience as a black person personally, as a woman, I understand how people can be “objectified.” Similar to any being exposed to scrutiny, African Americans are constantly fighting their culturally engrained stereotypes. However, I do not believe you have to be a member of an oppressed group in order to be objectified. As we explained in class, any two subjects can “objectify” one another.

Fanon further argued that individual’s possess the ability to transcend the “essence” of their being; in the words of Fanon, “existence precedes essence.” However, is it possible to transcend cultural structures such as “negrophobia?” Although I understand Fanon’s arguments/theories independent from one another, I am not sure how they intertwine. If African Americans’ lived experience is to transcend the essence of blackness, does this include both positive and negative qualities? When considering this question, I immediately thought about a poem I read in one of my classes last semester:

“For the white person who wants to know how to be my friend.”
By: Pat Parker Edited by: Gloria Anzaldua

The first thing you do is forget that I'm Black. Second, you must never forget that I'm Black.

You should be able to dig Aretha, but don't play her every time I come over. And if you decide to play Beethoven-don't tell me his life story. They make us take music appreciation too.

Eat soul food if you like it, but don't expect me to locate your restaurants or cook it for you.

And if some Black person insults you, mugs you, rapes your sister, rapes you, robs your house or is just being an ass- please do not apologize to me for wanting to do them bodily harm. It makes me wonder if you're foolish.

And even if you really believe Blacks are better lovers than whites-don't tell me. I might start thinking of charging stud fees.

In other words-if you really want to be my friend-don't make a labor of it. I'm lazy. Remember.

I believe this poem addresses several racial stereotypes; is it possible to acknowledge race without acknowledging racial stereotypes? How can one divorce the two socially constructed concepts, and would this be a form of transcendence? I understand that my blog post does not make an argument, but rather poses a series of questions. I’m hoping to get some feedback and opinions, because I clearly need help sorting through Fanon’s arguments!

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