Frantz Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks is a rambling mix of psychoanalytic discourse, philosophical insights, literary prowess, and righteous indignation on the psychology of racism. But its wide range is as much its strength as well as its weakness.
We have strong points every now and then, like when Fanon points out the black man’s inferiority complex and the black intellectual’s seeking of the colonizer’s education and mastery of his language as their way of confronting this feeling of inadequacy. Abandoning his own culture for that of his colonizer, the educated black recourse to wearing white masks: “The Negro is a savage, whereas the student is civilized. ‘You’re us,’ and if anyone thinks you are a Negro he is mistaken, because you merely look like one.”
Yet Fanon’s insights are drowned by his grappling with the impacts of white oppression of the blacks and their dehumanization but without clearly teasing out the corollary course of action.
Black Skin, White Masks is best read as an early work rather than a canon that defines Fanon. The weaknesses in this work are remedied in The Wretched of the Earth, a work crafted in the crucible of actual revolutionary practice.