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Jana Evans Braziel, Assistant Professor
229B Mc Micken Hall
Department of English and Comparative Literature
University of Cincinnati
ML 210069
Cincinnati, OH 45221-0069
Office # (513) 556-0834
Fax # (513) 556-5960
jana.braziel@uc.edu
evans_braziel@hotmail.com

Frantz Fanon, "The Fact of Blackness"

From Black Skin, White Masks. New York: Grove Press, 1967.

Discussion Questions:

How, in confrontation with the white man and racism, does the black man experience himself first as an object (what Fanon defines as "that crushing objecthood," p. 109), and finally as nonexistent? Despite Fanonís critical acumen in reading race and the processes of racialization, how does he reiterate ideas that are gendered and sexuated in his thought?

Fanon describes the subjective and psychological process of black identity formation as a dual process defined by the corporeal schema and the historico-racial schema. How does this dual process create a sense of split identity? Refer to page 111.

What does Fanon mean by the statement, "I existed triply" (112)?

How, for Fanon, are the Jew and the black cultural constructions -- or as he says in the "Introduction" to Black Skin, White Masks, "white man's artifact[s]" (14) -- constructs that overdetermine Jewish and black identity? How is Jewish identity, according to Fanon, determined from the inside? How is black identity, according to Fanon, determined from the outside? Refer to pp. 116-17. Do you agree with Fanon's ideas about ethnic overdetermination? How, if at all, might one problematize his distinction between Jewish interiority and black exteriority?

Sartre's interpretation of négritude in Orphée Noir (Black Orpheus) is specifically Hegelian. Why does Fanon resist this interpretation? How does it reinforce the conception of the black (le noir) as negative or negativity? (See pp. 133-35; 138).

At the end of the essay, "The Fact of Blackness," Fanon vacillates between resignation and refusal, noting that he is left "straddling Nothingness and Infinity" (140). How does this tension reiterate or echo the place of the black man in white culture? What tone is expressed in the words, "straddling Nothingness and Infinity"?

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