[Molly Weaver] Race, Gender, Difference II: Fanon and Patterson (#3)

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1-What Does Fanon mean by "For not only must the black man be black; he must be black in relation to the white man"? Can you explain that? Please provide real life examples?

When Frantz Fanon wrote, "for not only must the black man be black; he must be black in relation to the white man," I believe he was talking about the relativity of race. Being black means nothing by itself; however, when being black is compared to being white, the two colors have a meaning attached to them. The roles of "white" and "black" in society could have been completely reversed if it was originally established that black was a superior skin color. The way that individuals interpret race is socially constructed in that we have completely created was defines a race, and we continually amend that definition. Black people were oppressed in slavery because society was conditioned over time to believe that they were inferior to white people, when in reality there is no real reasoning for this declaration.
An example of how race has been socially constructed is the word "Caucasian" and its meaning. The use of "Caucasian" today is used to define people who look "white" or of north western European decent. Originally, this word was used to define the people of Caucasia. Today, the people of Caucasia would not even fit under the American definition of "Caucasian" because they do not fit the typical profile. We have redefined the word "Caucasian" to fit a specific race. Race is a constantly changing, socially constructed idea in society.

2--Fanon writes: "Man is human only to the extent to which he tries to impose is existence on another man in order to be recognized by him. As long as he has not been effectively recognized by the other, that other will remain the theme of his actions. "What does this mean for the power relationship among social groups in a society? Can you explain by providing examples from social life?

I believe that this quotation is very similar to both Collins' idea of bifurcated consciousness and Marx's idea of "ruling class; ruling ideas". In my interpretation, Fanon is suggesting that individuals are constantly struggling for recognition. Those who have gained recognition have the ability to recognize others, while those who have not yet been recognized do not have the ability to recognize others. Therefore, those who have not yet been recognized are constantly working toward being recognized by the already recognized group. The group of individuals who we recognize in society have power over our ideas because we give them that power by recognizing them as superb, superior, etc. This is similar to bifurcated consciousness because those who have not been recognized are in local understanding, while those who have are able to transcend into conceptual mode. Relating to Marx, the ruling class, or those who are recognized, rule the ideas, or the "theme" of peoples' actions. For power groups in society it means that those in power will stay in power as long as we continue to recognize their power. In addition to this, no one is able to come into power unless those who are already in power allow them to be recognized, because the already powerful control the ideas in society. An example in social life is workplace hierarchies. Individuals apply for positions (and technically choose where they want to work). By accepting a job they are offered they agree to abide by the laws of that work place. The higher up in the hierarchy of that workplace, the more power an individual has and vice versa. In a work place we constantly work toward a promotion, and in order to get a promotion (be accepted into the recognized class) we must constantly act in the way that the hierarchy above us would have us act. The entire concept of "sucking up" is a direct example of this idea.

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This page contains a single entry by Molly Weaver published on April 22, 2012 11:58 PM.

[Joe Heitzman] Race, Gender, Difference II: Fanon and Patterson (#3) was the previous entry in this blog.

Connor Heidbrink Blog #3 Race,Gender,Difference II is the next entry in this blog.

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