by Chris Doyle and Robert Siuta
Frantz Omar Fanon, who also went by Ibrahim Frantz Fanon, was a psychiatrist, poet, political theorist, and philosopher born in the French Martinique in the Caribbean in 1925. He grew up in a middle-class household before leaving the island in 1943 to join the Free French Forces during the Second World War. After the war, Fanon completed psychiatric studies at the University of Lyon in France. Upon completion, he was assigned to a hospital in Algeria during the Algerian War of Independence. While interviewing the victims and perpetrators of torture and violence, he began to gain a wider understanding of colonial and racial behavior. His first book, Black Skin, White Masks, examines the psychically imprisoning effect of racial categorization. Fanon takes the perspective that within the colonial project that created a social structure based on skin color, nothing is untouched and hence nothing not influenced by hierarchies of race. His second book, The Wretched of Earth, increased his global literary standing. Fanon explains his thoughts on the use of violence by the colonial state against the colonized people and vice-versa. He also examines the relationships between the colonizing power and the indigenous people working within the system. Because of Fanon’s background in a plethora of subjects, his writing attracted the attention of scholars from all over the world. Fanon’s writings explored topics of gender, sexuality, race, religion, and language.
Fanon died of leukemia in 1961 in Bethesda, Maryland. He originally refused to accept treatment in what he called, “a country of lynchers”(Bhabha, vii). His work inspired the likes of Malcolm X, Steve Biko, and Huey Newton. Like Fanon, Biko’s Black Consciousness Movement was less about the political liberation the African National Congress fought for, but about the liberation and empowerment of the African continent’s cultures. Fanon’s ideas of the totalitarian presence of the colonial state inspired the activity of the Black Panther Party in America.
Fanon, Frantz. Black Skin, White Masks. Translated by Richard Philcox, Grove Press, 2008.
Fanon, Frantz. The Wretched of Earth. Translated by Richard Philcox, Grove Press, 2007.
Drabinski, John. “Frantz Fanon.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford University, 14 Mar. 2019, plato.stanford.edu/entries/frantz-fanon/#WretEart.
“Frantz Fanon.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., www.britannica.com/biography/Frantz-Fanon.
Bhabha, Homi K. Forward: Framing Fanon, Grover Press, 2007, p. vii.
Biko, Steve, and Aelred Stubbs. I Write What I like: a Selection of His Writings. Heinemann, 1982.
Newton, Huey. Revolutionary Suicide. Random House. 1973.
Malcolm X, and Haley, Alex. The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Grove Press. 1965.
Alessandrini , Anthony. “Frantz Fanon.” Oxford Bibilographies, Oxford University, 26 Nov. 2019, www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780190221911/obo-9780190221911-0001.xml.