Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief.
On this day in 1925, 90 years ago, philosopher Frantz Fanon was born in the French colony of Martinique. His family were part of a black middle class which strove for assimilation into white French culture. However, the young Fanon was exposed to ideas of racial identity which rejected such assimilation and, conflicted, Fanon left Martinique to fight in World War Two. After the war he remained in France and studied psychiatry and medicine at university, where his philosophy was shaped by his own experiences of racism and exposure to Marxist ideas. In 1952, he published his book Black Faces, White Masks, which argued that black people have to wear ‘white masks’ to survive in a white world. He moved to Algeria in 1953, and was working in a hospital during that country’s war of independence against France. Upon witnessing firsthand the brutal French repression of anti-colonial resistance, Fanon felt he could not aid French imperialism and resigned from the hospital, instead devoting himself to the Algerian independence movement. While working as the provisional Algerian government’s ambassador to Ghana, Fanon was diagnosed with leukemia. As his condition deteriorated, he wrote his famous The Wretched of the Earth, which denounced colonialism and justified the use of violence in independence struggles. He received treatment in the Soviet Union and the United States, and died in Maryland in December 1961, aged 36.
“When we revolt it’s not for a particular culture. We revolt simply because, for many reasons, we can no longer breathe”
“I am black; I am in total fusion with the world, in sympathetic affinity with the earth, losing my id in the heart of the cosmos – and the white man, however intelligent he may be, is incapable of understanding Louis Armstrong or songs from the Congo. I am black, not because of a curse, but because my skin has been able to capture all the cosmic effluvia. I am truly a drop of sun under the earth.” ― Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks