In Black Skin, White Masks, Fanon describes a trap in which social and cultural norms were imposed on the black colonized subjects, forcing them to wear white masks. The white mask created a sense of alienation and homelessness for the colonized subjects since it was forcefully imposed on them. However, Fanon recognizes that the colonized person was also an active participant in accepting the white mask (p. 92).
According to Fanon, the “white gaze” fixes blackness, making it with a slur and epidermal character to seal the blackness itself. The white gaze renders the black body alive or dead. Even if the Black subject tries to affirm love to the world and claim humanity, this becomes erased. Among the worst crimes committed by the colonists was rupturing the Black man’s identity, destroying his culture and community, and giving his life a sense of inferiority. The white gaze had fixed him, forcing him to become shamefully aware of his black body and assumptions about his history, defined by issues such as cannibalism, racial stigmas and the slave trade.
From this extract, cultural imposition is the acceptance of and subservience to the colonists’ ways of life and standards while abandoning or being ignorant of that associated with a person’s original descent. Cultural imposition constructs a conception of the Negro as Other, defined only in terms of being non-white. In this example, when Fanon behaves like a Negro would, such as being loud, his mother tells him to “stop acting like a nigger” (p. 168). This implies that his mother already identifies with the colonist’s culture and views her original culture as the other.
The reality of lighting a cigarette represents an escape from the Black-White binary since Fanon makes the moves by his implicit knowledge and not out of habit. The whites viewed black people as being incapable of doing anything by themselves. Lighting the cigarette showed that the black man could live in a spatial and temporal world where he could have a free choice without any impositions.
Easy Rawlins becomes a detective because he is broke after losing his job. He needs to make some money because his mortgage payment is almost due. When he is offered $100 to find a missing woman, he accepts it because of desperation (p. 9). Along the way, he finds himself looking for people who do not want to be found and decides to become a private detective.
Easy is both black and a detective who goes through a process of discovering himself as a black male in America. As he progresses as a private investigator, he positions himself as a critic of the old stereotypes of the African American identity. He speaks up, demands reasons, and advocates for those who were rendered helpless by the dominant American society (p. 41)
Easy views himself as a man who can change to fit in the White society when necessary. He can quickly shift from street dialect to standard English to enhance his negotiating identities and yield good results for his cases. His use of white English is a subversive act that also causes him problems (p.179)
An incident that depicts racism in the book is when Easy is blamed for Coretta’s death since he was the last to visit her on that day. He is arrested by two white cops who rough him. However, they let him go because of a lack of evidence. After he leaves the police station, he wants to run, but he knows the police will arrest him for being a black man at a running pace (p. 78).
Albright hires Easy to find a white woman, Daphne Monet, on behalf of a client who was Daphne’s lover before the couple disagreed. Easy begins his search at John’s place, which is popular among blacks. He meets Coretta, who tells him that Daphne is her friend and that she knows about her whereabouts. She is found dead, and Easy is accused of murder. Daphne calls Easy, who tells him that he heard that he was looking for her. The two then meet, and his friend Richard turns dead on his bed. Albright threatens to harm easily for not reporting everything he has learned about Daphne, which forces him into more tracking people.
Easy Rawlins assumes a white English accent when necessary to get his way. This is similar to cultural imposition in Black Skin, White Mask. Easy assumes the white culture to navigate and relate well with white people who help him in his work.
Butler’s idea on human relationality is that some human beings may be more relational than others, such as women and caregivers. However, she questions the belief that certain gendered behaviors are natural. This illustrates the ways that one’s learned performance of gendered behavior associated with femininity and masculinity is a performance imposed to us by normative heterosexuality.
According to Butler, primary vulnerability is when people tend to protect others from the kinds of violence that they have already suffered(p.30). She expounds that certain human lives are more vulnerable than others, and some lives are more giveable than others. Lives are supported and maintained differently, and primary vulnerability is distributed differently around the world. Certain lives will be highly protected, and a threat to their lives is enough to start a war.
Butler asserts that “the obituary is an act of nation-building” (p. 34). she expounds that this is because grieving a life qualifies it as a noteworthy life. Creating obituaries indicates that there are lives worth valuing and preserving. Obituaries function as the tools that grievablity is publicly distributed. The absence of obituaries is considered dehumanization since lives are not considered lives at all.
According to Butler (p 37), it is easy to humanize Daniel Pearl as a real person because there was a public obituary after his death. It would be impossible to humanize other people who lost their lives in Afghanistan and other places who did not have public obituaries. From her explanation, Butler insists that obituaries are important in helping us remember details about the deceased, thus humanizing them.
Butler’s work can be related to Foucault’s theory of biopolitics, which is the application of political power on different aspects of human life. Politics influences public policy and decision making. This relates to Butler’s quote that certain lives are highly protected while others are not considered grievable.
Nancy’s idea on being singular plural mark an absolute equivalence both indistinct and indistinct ways. Being is singularly plural and plurally singular. However, this does not predict the state of being since it has a certain number of attributes. The singular plural is the essence of being that undoes every other essence of Being itself.
According to Nancy, Descartes ego sum is really ego cum (p.31). this implies that it is not the thinking that constitutes the subject, but coming into contact or a relationship.
Nancy refutes the dichotomy of I-Other by recognizing that the way we are recognized and recognize others play an important role in how we treat each other. Nancy clearly identifies the mind with consciousness and self-awareness and distinguishes this from the brain as a seat of intelligence.
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