Frantz Fanon was the first to write about the
psychic effects of colonialism in Africa. He was as a psychiatrist, political
philosopher, literary critic, and a revolutionary, personally experienced the
psychological effects of colonialism which is resulted in the books like Black
Skin, White Masks and The Wretched of the Earth. Fanon’s works inspired and created a
theoretical background to fight against colonialism and its impacts.  His works,
such as Black Skin, White Masks, in
Algeria compelled him to take an active part in the Algerian independent
movement. His active participation in the liberation movement formed the basis
of these fundamental books on racism, psychiatry and colonialism. As a
psychiatrist, Fanon has explored the psychological aspects of colonialism and
their deep psychic impacts on the colonized people in Africa. It is from this
point of view, the present paper is an attempt to understand how Frantz Fanon
has analyzed the psychic impact of colonialism on the unconscious fantasy of
black woman in his Black Skin, White Masks psychoanalytically.

Black Skin, White Masks, colonialism, psychology, Black Woman etc.


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Fanon as a psychiatrist, political philosopher and literary critic has analyzed
the psychological aspects of colonialism and their deep psychic effects on the
black people. In his famous book Black Skin, White Masks which deals
with an exploration of the psychological effects of colonialism on the people
in Africa and racism that lies beneath the colonial system and colonialism
across the globe.  In this book, Fanon
interprets that how the colonized people have internalized colonial ideology
and the ways through which inferiority complex is inculcated among the colonized.
He also proposes how through the mechanism of racism the blacks can put an end
to their oppressors. He has emphasized on the psychology of colonialism and analyzed
it in relation to its deep association with the language, the black man and the
black woman, and the white man and woman, the dependency complex of the
colonized and the psychopathology of the blacks.

            The psychopathology of the blacks
and their life under colonialism has led Fanon to interpret the black woman’s
unconscious fantasy. His main purpose is to uncover the formation of the black
self and the suffering of the blacks under the French colonialism. In the
chapter called “The Woman of Color and the White Man” in Black Skin, White
Masks, Fanon has examined the unconscious fantasy of the black woman in the
white world. Hugh Butts writes about this that Fanon “hypothesizes that a black
woman in a sexual liaison with a white man unconsciously fantasizes that she is
“whitened” by the relationship” (Butts 1016). The black woman is always seen in
her unconscious fantasy that she wants to change her race and herself from the
black into the white. It is for him is nothing but the psychological result of
the colonized women and their association with the colonizers. It is also an
effect of the misery of being black in the white world and its deep psychic
impact on the mind. In fact, he says that colonialism has a deep impact on the
psyche of both the black man and woman which is to be just examined

            To analyse and explore the
unconscious fantasy of the Black woman in the world of colonialism, David Caute
in his book Fanon says that he “devotes painful images to an exploration
of the West Indian girl’s search for a white husband or, more a mate blessed
with a lightest possible skin. The Negress of Martinique has only one concern,
to turn white; the mulatto girl must at all costs avoid slipping back into
blackness” (Caute 12). He further says that a number of women from Martiniques
wanted to change their race into white. For instance, the woman as described by
Fanon “named as what Mayotte wants is a kind of lactification, for, in a word,
the race must be whitened; every woman in Martinique knows this, says it,
repeats it. Whiten the race, save the race, but not in the sense that one might
think; not “preserving the uniqueness of that part of the world in which they
grew up”, but make sure that it will be white” (Black Skin, White Masks

            In Antilles, according to Fanon, the
black women are not much more interested in the black men. They are usually
given least preference in comparison with the Whites. Fanon in this context
says that “every woman in the Antilles, whether in a causal flirtation or in a
serious affair, is determined to select the least black of the men” (BSWM 33).  He also
describes his own experience about such feelings of the young Martinique girl
students in France who admitted to him, “with complete candor – completely
white candor – that they would find it impossible to marry black men … Besides,
they added, it is not that we deny blacks have any good qualities, but you know
it is so much better to be white (BSWM 33).

            The psychic impact of colonialism is
seen in the changed mind set of the black woman. She is not much interested in
marrying a black man. She always desires to marry with a white man. She is too
much attracted towards the White men for love and even ready to submit everything
to the Whites without any expectations except a little bit whiteness in her
life. For instance, Fanon tells that the fantasy and desire of a woman of color
called Mayotte Capecia and submission of herself without any demand except a
bit of Whiteness in her life, as: Mayotte loves a white man to whom she submits
in everything. He is her lord. She asks nothing, demands nothing, except a bit
of whiteness in her life. When she tries to determine in her own mind whether
the man is handsome or ugly; she writes, “All I know is that he had blue eyes,
blond hair, and a light skin, and that I loved him” (BSWM 29).  Though Mayotte describes that what she had
loved of the white man that of the blue eyes, blond hair and a light skin but,
what Fanon says that this woman’s description of the blue eyes on the other
side frighten the Negroes of the Antilles. It means whatever the Black women
loved of the White men is frightened the Black men.

            The young girls’ attitude towards
the marriage with the Negro in Martinique was changed in the then French
colony. This type of attitude of the young generation towards marrying with
each other in Africa always disturbs Fanon. He says about these women who used
to say that: “Everyone of has a white potential, but some try to ignore it and
others simply reverse it. As far as I am concerned, I wouldn’t marry a Negro
for anything in the world” (BSWM 33). For Fanon, these black women are in the
quest of white men. He also warns them that the white men do not marry with the
black women. His analysis of the black women is that they are completely under
the influence of the psychic effect of colonialism because the unconscious
fantasies of these women are always yearning towards the white man’s quest and
this is what he accounts as:

            All these frantic women of color in
quest of white men are waiting. And one of      these
days, surely, they will be surprised to find that they do not want to go back,          they will dream of “a wonderful night,
a wonderful lover, a white man.” Possibly,   too,
they will become aware, one day, that “White men do not marry black    women.” But they have consented to run this
risk; what they must have is         Whiteness
at any price. (BSWM 34)

            The attraction of the blacks towards
the whites is naturally seen in Africa. The psychic change in the black woman
reflects that she wants to change her race into the white. It is a type of
unconscious fantasy of becoming white is what one can say that it controls her
behavior and life. This psychic state of the mind leads the black women to give
least preference to the black men than the white men. For Fanon “she had been
recognized through her overcompensating behavior. She was no longer the woman
who wanted to be white; she was white. She was joining the White world” (BSWM
41). But, on the other side, such behavior of these Black women uncalculated a
feeling of hatred of the black man. Therefore, when Fanon talks about an
educated Mulatto he says that how she behaves and expresses from the
psychological point of view about the Negro:

            The educated mulatto woman,
especially if she is a student, engages in doubly      equivocal behavior. She says, “I do not like the Negro because
he is savage. Not          savage in a
cannibal way, but lacking refinement”. An abstract point of view. And     when one points but to her that in this
respect some black people may be her     superiors,
she falls back on their ugliness. (BSWM 41)

type of behavior of the black women can also be said that it is an impact of
the racial stereotypes of the European culture which adversely affected on the
minds of the Black women who have shown their attitude towards the Black men.
It is just like the attitude of the whites towards the Blacks which reflected
in the opinions of the Blacks themselves that they could not understood its
psychic effects.

            The changed attitude of the black
women toward the black men is also seen on other occasions in this book. Fanon
focuses on the psychic aspects of the women when he describes an incident when a
girl who knew him quite jumped up in anger because he had said to her, in a
situation where the word was not only appropriate but the one word that suited
the incident as: “You, as a Negress-.’ ‘Me? a Negress?, can’t you see I’m
practically white? I despise Negroes. Niggers stink. They’re dirty and lazy.
Don’t ever mention niggers to me” (BSWM 35). He portrays through this incident
that how seriously colonialism has affected the psyche of the black women and
their immediate reaction because they cannot even tolerate to call them as
Negress. Fanon has further examined several passages from Abdoulaye Sadji’s story
to understand the living reactions of the woman of color to the European to
support his statements about the black woman’s unconscious fantasy. The Negress
and the Mulatto are the two women about whom he says that the basic concern of
the first one is just to turn herself into white and the second one not only
wants to turn herself into white but she wants to avoid slipping with black.

            Obviously one can conclude that
there is a deep psychic impact of colonialism on the black women in Africa.  Fanon has pointed out that the psychic effect
of colonialism is seen on the unconscious fantasy of black woman which led her
to turn herself into white. It is due to this she not just wants to change
herself into white but her entire race. These consequences of colonialism as
Fanon has pointed out that have completely controlled her behavior and
compelled to act foolishly in the open drama of the Black and White in the
World. The black women who are depicted by Fanon are totally brainwashed women
whose ultimate unconscious fantasy was not to marry a black man but to a white
man or to submit themselves without any expectation except a little bit
whiteness in their life or to flee from the misery of Blackness in the
surrounding areas wherein they live. The psychological consequence of
colonialism is thus reflected through the changed behavior of the black women
who are set on themselves in changing their entire race into white. It has
controlled the entire life of the black women.


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