Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks on Race Consciousness

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Carolyn Marie Cusick


When the issue of race is approached one is either for retaining race consciousness or for working toward its abolition. There are various ways people choose to retain racial categories and various definitions and meanings of race. As well, abolitionists take on a range of stances on when and how to eliminate racial categories. Nonetheless, that one must take a stance and advocate either retention or abolition seems to be required when studying race theory or discussing racial identities in terms of questions of justice. These two positions are understood as contradictory as well as the only two options available. Using Fanon, and debates surrounding White Skin, Black Masks on this very question of race consciousness, this paper argues against expecting or requiring a clear stance on the issue or even posing it as a dilemma. Reading Fanon as employing an existential phenomenological methodology allows us to see how he exposes injustice by writing about experience and projecting a future shared community of hope and freedom without clear indication of the role our group identities might play. The paper will then show the importance of rethinking the question of perpetuating racial categories, particularly through Fanon, by analyzing three potentially liberatory projects, Critical Whiteness Studies, Indigenous Studies, and Development Studies , demonstrating how the endeavors of many practitioners who claim to already know what various identities will (should) or will not (should not) mean for us truncates these projects.
race theory, Fanon, indigenous studies, development studies, whiteness, race consciousness

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How to Cite
Cusick, C. M. (2007). Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks on Race Consciousness. AmeriQuests, 4(1).
Author Biography

Carolyn Marie Cusick, Vanderbilt University

Carolyn Cusick is a graduate student in philosophy at Vanderbilt University. She is a founding member of the Phenomenology Roundtable. Her interests are in Husserlian phenomenology, feminism, Africana philosophy, and epistemology all of which will come together in her dissertation exploring the role of essence, understood phenomenologically, in feminist and anti-racist praxis.