Submitted by Criss Guy on Monday, 12/19/2011, at 7:54 PM

From West Indians and Africans:

Frantz Fanon uses psychology to help explain the relationship between Africa, the West Indies, and France. France, abusive, stifling, represents the cruel adoptive father figure to an overwhelmed, enslaved race at the beginning of the colonial era. However, Fanon points out that for the West Indies, France still stood as the father figure to look up to, to model. A sense of security came with the colonial presence, a certainty for West Indians that they were Europeans and therefore the equals of the French. Following the surrender of France during World War II, a serious anxiety sets in for West Indians. With their previous model defeated and exposed, they seek to alleviate this anxiety by turning to Africa, only to be spurned by Africans who reject them and who are now certain of their own identities as a result of Negritude. Uncertainty at the most basic level, uncertainty about one’s own nature, sets in for the West Indian people.

Fanon uses psychology to describe his critique of Negritude. As countries within Africa begin to gain independence, Africa can been seen as a young adult, more capable of resisting the adoptive colonial France. African countries naturally use this unprecedented independence and power to rebel or reject the oppressive force hanging over them. Fanon sees Negritude as the rebellion against France. By turning away from European values, Negritude allows black people affected by colonialism to assert their own identity.

Fanon thus sees Negritude as a reactive movement, a movement that arises in response to European colonialism. Negritude understood as a reactive movement is problematic for Africa and its Diaspora because it does not actually develop on its own terms, only in response to colonialism. For black people, a reactive movement like Negritude represents an immaturity in thought. Reactive movements originate from understanding the oppressive other and defining the self in relation, in opposition to that other. A more mature and beneficial way of assessing identity involves understanding the self first, on its own terms.


"The Downfall of France, For the West Indian, was in a sense the murder of the father." - Frantz Fanon