Black Skin White Masks
By Frantz Fanon (1952)
Free PDF: Black Skin White Masks
Frantz Fanon was born in Martinique in 1925 of mixed heritage. He fought with the French resistance during World War II and received a scholarship to study medicine and psychiatry in France. In 1953, he accepted a hospital position in Algeria, where he joined the Algerian National Liberation Front. He died of leukemia in 1961.
Fanon was the first to systematically document and analyze the tendency of people of color to internalize the racism of the dominant culture. This process can include both self-deprecation based on race and unconscious adoption of European culture in preference to their own.
The book received international acclaim following Fanon’s death (from leukemia) in 1961 and was highly influential in the 1960s black power movement, both in Africa and the US.
Fanon’s analysis is a bit too Freudian for my tastes, though it makes important observations about the systematic destruction of African language and culture during colonization and enslavement. It also includes some fascinating observations about European family life, eg the fact that 30% of children born to typical European families become neurotic.