Social Theory: The Multicultural and Classic Readings

By Charles Lemert | Go to book overview

alyst, however. "There's nothing wrong really," they kept telling themselves. "There isn't any problem.". . .

If I am right, the problem that has no name stirring in the minds of so many American women today is not a matter of loss of femininity or too much education, or the demands of domesticity. It is far more important than anyone recognizes. It is the key to these other new and old problems which have been torturing women and their husbands and children, and puzzling their doctors and educators for years. It may well be the key to our future as a nation and a culture. We can no longer ignore that voice within women that says: "I want something more than my husband and my children and my home."❖

Frantz Fanon ( 1925-1961) was born in Martinique. He studied medicine in France and became a psychiatrist. During the French-Algerian war, Fanon served in a hospital in Algeria--an experience that deepened his native sympathy for and understanding of those subject to colonial oppressions. He died of cancer at thirty-six, yet his works endure. Both Black Skin, White Masks ( 1952) and The Wretched of the Earth ( 1961) were among the most widely read books in Europe and the United States in the 1960s, as well as early classics in the emerging literature of the late- and postcolonial world.


Decolonizing, National Culture, and the Negro Intellectual

Frantz Fanon ( 1961)

National liberation, national renaissance, the restoration of nationhood to the people, commonwealth: whatever may be the headings used or the new formulas introduced, decolonization is always a violent phenomenon. At whatever level we study it--relationships between individuals, new names for sports clubs, the human admixture at cocktail parties, in the police, on the directing boards of national or private banks--decolonization is quite simply the replacing of a certain "species" of men by another "species" of men. Without any period of transition, there is a total, complete, and absolute substitution. It is true that we could equally well stress the rise of a new nation, the setting up of a new state, its diplomatic relations, and its economic and political trends. But we have precisely chosen to speak of that kind of tabula rasa which characterizes at the outset all decolonization. Its unusual importance is that it constitutes, from the very first day, the minimum demands of the colonized. To tell the truth, the proof of success lies in a whole social structure being changed from the bottom up. The extraordinary importance of this change is that it is willed, called for, demanded. The need for this change exists in its crude state, impetuous and compelling, in the consciousness and in the lives of the men and women who are colonized. But the possibility of this change is equally experienced in the form of a terrifying future in the consciousness of another "species" of men and women: the colonizers.

____________________
Excerpt from Constance Farrington, trans., The Wretched of the Earth ( New York: Grove Press, Inc., 1968 [ 1963]), pp. 35-38, 215-222. Copyright 1963 by Presence Africaine, renewed 1991 by Presence Africaine. Used with permission of Grove/Atlantic Monthly Press.

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