Frantz Fanon: Black Skin, White Masks Chapter 1
In the first chapter of Fanon's work, Black Skin White Masks, Fanon
suggests that one's choice of language among the black people may reveal how oppression influence their mindsets and recognition of their identity. "To speak is to exist absolutely for the other", He indicates that, for the black people, to allow their selected utterance to be understood may not only endowed them the syntax or the morphology of certain language, but also the membership of a culture and a civilization. What result in such mindset is that, in the cognition of the oppressed black community, black people are prone to recognize European culture and whiteness as the representative of humanity.
Some instances are then introduced to explain the nature of the blacks' inferiority complex. The black may feel honored as being a interpreter in the colonial army of the "mother country"; even a single trip to France may give confidence to the Martinicans whose status are meanwhile radically uplifted. The Creole community has showed an apparent despise against speaking Creole, those who speak French will no longer the primitive bitaco. They were embracing a belief that the more they reject their blackness and culture , the whiter they will become, thus, the pursuit of the fluency and eloquence of French came to be an indication for the level of one's whitening progress.
Fanon describe such bizarre mindsets are a psychological phenomenon. The blacks kept living in their own island, an isolation led to their panic. Europe, hence, emerged as an hope of relief. Colonialism and its oppression are, in this sense, succeeded to distort the blacks' notion of success and achievement and convince them of rejecting their own unique identity and seek ones which will never belong to them. Said belives that it was the forged white identity which resulted in a narcissism inside the blacks' mind to distinguish themselves from animals, such narcissism need to be ceased.
A fable-like example is then provided in the text. A Martinican seems to deliberately abandoned and refused to speak his native language as he returned to his homeland from France for that his is convinced to have established an intimate association with French culture and become superior to his fellows. Fanon reveals that the abroad living experience would persuaded some of the blacks that there's a distinction between the educated ones and the local ones, and they would even differ from the regions they're living in. Later in the text, Fanon revealed the fact that the communication between the whites and the blacks is merely a relationship between an adult and a child.
Fanon believes that the blacks desire of speaking French should be understood from their history. Speaking French provides the blacks with more possibilities to enter various gates that is previously exclusive to the whites. Speaking a language represents the acceptance and entrance to a world, a culture, even then Fanon himself admitted that he gained civil rights for the achievements of his research upon the whites' language. However, he asserted that there are still some blacks use French not for
transforming themselves into the whites, they were utilizing French to
exert the power of language like poets and those natives.