Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Beyond Health Disparities: Examining Power Disparities and Industrial Complexes from the Views of Frantz Fanon (Part 1)

Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Beyond Health Disparities: Examining Power Disparities and Industrial Complexes from the Views of Frantz Fanon (Part 1)

Article excerpt

"The colonized are caught in the tightly knit web of colonialism."

(Fanon, 1963, p. 15)

The United States is predicated upon permanent disparities and inequities in life expectancy, mortality rates, education gaps, incarceration, economic solvency, and counter-development burdened upon Africans domestically and internationally (Davis, 2006; Marable, 2000; Rodney, 1972). Founded in enslavement, these disparities were facilitated by military conquest, and perpetuated through economic, legal, and social stratification with Africans occupying the lowest echelons of the American caste system. Africans have forcefully served as the cash crop of the United States and the New World (Marx, 1976), a permanent source of free and cheap labor in the plantation and prison systems; a varying source of free and enslaved soldiers for all major wars fought in North America and the European internecine wars; and an endless source of flesh for medical experimentation in prison, plantation, and military sites (Washington, 2006). Entire industries were created to dehumanize and master the control of the African population in the United States for profit and superiority. Put simply, the suppression of African culture and life provides the lifeblood of the United States and their allies. This suppression, violent and repressive, permeates the space in which Africans exist and is experienced as power disparities.

This paper takes on the ambitious task of conceptualizing and expanding the topic of health disparities by examining various industrial complexes that create and are sustained by the power disparities they represent. Using Frantz Fanon's (1964; 1967) work as a method, we examine Africans in America as part of an ecology of colonialism and the violence that it engenders. We employ a meta-theoretical, interdisciplinary approach to argue that power disparities, a representation of colonial violence, impedes the health and wellness of African people and therefore, must be a key level of analysis and intervention.

Bronfenbrenner's (1977) ecological model is a well known theory within psychology and proposes that the exosystem, the setting in which individuals reside, directly impacts individuals and communities level activity and decision making. For considerations of space, we focus solely on the macrosystemic level the ecological model noting that this level accounts for the overarching influence on the exosystem of such institutions as media, productivity, delivery of goods and services, etc. As Bronfenbrenner notes, "Macrosystems are conceived and examined not only in structural terms but as carriers of information and ideology that both explicitly and implicitly, endow meaning and motivation to particular agencies, social networks, roles, activities, and their interrelations." (italics in text, p. 515). The macrosystemic level therefore is the focus of this paper as most critiques of power discuss macrosystemic levels, but then focus on microsystems and individual perception.

Frantz Fanon as Method

Frantz Fanon, the African Martiniquan psychiatrist, provided a model of colonial ecology that viewed macrosystems (e.g. economies, media, military, education, and development) as purveyors of violence against colonized people. Fanon's work (1967) was Pan-Africanist by virtue of his focus on culture, decolonization, nation-building and independence among African colonized countries (South Africa, Congo, Ghana, etc.) and countries where African internal colonies exist (Columbia, Peru, United States, Martinique, etc). Fanonian scholars understand that prevention and intervention of violence internally and externally to the Africans at home and abroad requires an analysis that addresses culture, power, sovereignty and the experience of colonialism. The model developed herein is viable in its application of the Fanonian method to the conditions of internally colonized Africans in Sudan, Columbia, South Africa, India, Australia, Martinique, England, Iraq, and everywhere that Africans exist in the Global African Community. …

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