Can/does the dependency complex in Chapter 4 apply to other groups as well?
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In chapter 4, Fanon describes the dependency complex proposed by Manoni – a French psychoanalyst that tried to rationalize and justify the colonial regime in Madagascar and other places around the world. He states that most natives are eager to be dependent on white colonials and serve them, as it helps them fulfilling a submissive need that existed in them before colonization (Fanon 62). While this postulate is inherently wrong and Fanon offers a scathing critique to the concept, it helps understand the mind of a well-intentioned white colonial better, and their desire to see their expansion as a good thing, rather than an act of wanton oppression. The black people are not the only ones that this concept could be used upon. European countries have exploited other nations as well – they had colonies in Asia, such as Singapore, India, and Vietnam. The concept of “lesser races” that need to be guided and brought to civilization by the white people spread on Asians, Arabs, Indians, and numerous aboriginal tribes in Australia. The concept of lesser humans that are willing to be dependent on others was also applied towards women – for a long period, women were considered to be lesser to men, requiring their labor, protection, and intelligence to exist.
To the extent you can, ‘teach’ the class what you understand about the first half of Fanon’s book.
Since “Black Skin, White Masks” is a book written for white French psychiatrists, it is a relatively hard book to read and retell in class. However, each chapter in this book has its own set of lessons that can be disseminated and shared with the class to expand the understanding of the book. The first chapter of the book addresses the issue of language in day-to-day conversations between white and black French people of the 1950s (Fanon 13). The author’s main lesson here is that while looking down on blacks for not knowing the language not native to them was inherently racist, praising blacks for speaking the language perfectly was also a form of racism, as it praised the “unusual intelligence” of those who spoke the language perfectly as something above the norm.
Chapters 2 and 3 are similar, as both of them address the desires of black people to “appear to be white” and to be accepted into the white society. The key lesson that Fanon teaches us in these chapters is that the white society, which is based on racism and looking down on black people, creates a pathological need to “belong,” which comes with rejecting black history and heritage and accepting “white values.” The fourth chapter is dedicated to debunking a theory proposed by Manoni, which suggested that certain people and certain races have a natural need to depend on others and accept superiority over themselves (Fanon 62). Fanon rebukes these notions and states that it is not a natural need, but rather a need artificially imposed by the white society. These lessons are what I would impart to the class.
What is the relationship between social roles and authenticity, according to Sartre?
The concept of authenticity is a topic explored by numerous thinkers, philosophers. Sartre’s notion of authenticity is closely related to the idea of “becoming what one is,” a concept found in the works of Kierkegaard and Heidegger. However, Sartre acknowledges the influence that society has in shaping one to fit a particular stereotype or social role. The author quotes him, stating that “the Jew is one whom other men consider a Jew: that is a simple truth which we must start… It is the anti-Semite who makes the Jew” (Fanon 67). This quote is related to the mentioned concept of becoming what one is, and its roots could be found in the modern racism of 2010 – if people are viewed as criminals, lesser beings, and get assigned roles in society, they will eventually become that which the society thinks they are.
Fanon, Franz. Black Skin, White Masks. Grove Press, 1952.