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Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Thought for the Day

Even the sincere black man (le Noir) is a slave of the past.  However, I am a man, and in that sense the Peloponnesian War is as much mine as is the discovery of the compass.  ...
The problem I envisage here is located in temporality.  Black and white people will be disalienated when they have refused to let themselves be locked up in a Tower of the Past that they've built for themselves ...
I am a man and it's the whole past of the world that I have to recover.  I'm not just responsible for the rebellion of Saint-Domingue.
Each time a man allowed the dignity of spirit to triumph, each time a man said no to reducing his equal to servitude, I feel solidarity with his act.
In no way do I have to take my calling from the past of the peoples of colour.
In no way do I have to set myself to reviving an unjustly forgotten black civilisation.  I don't make myself the man of any past.  I don't want to sing the past at the expense of my present or my future.

Frantz Fanon, Peau Noire Masques Blancs (Paris 1952), pp.182-3 (my [clunky and loose] translation)

2 comments:

  1. This is wonderful. I used to work at an art museum in a majority-black American city, and the staff was always wringing their hands about how to connect the collection with the black community. The anxiety seemed predicated on the belief that African-Americans wouldn't have any interest in art that didn't reflect contemporary ideas of black identity (the permanent collection has next to nothing from sub-Saharan Africa and only a few early 20th c. works by African-Americans). Voices like this were missing from the conversation.

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