Celebrating Frantz Fanon’s Birthday

-A +A
0

Fanon’s analysis of racism and alienation, lack of self-esteem, and perspective of how protracted imperialist and colonial violence finally forces the oppressed to respond in an aggressive retaliatory violent response to address their depraved condition. Rebellious violent responses are natural when oppressed and repressed peoples reach the limit of tolerance to their submission.

On Thursday, July 20, 2006, which would have been the 81st anniversary of the birth of  Frantz Fanon, the Patrice Lumumba Coalition, ArtMattan Productions and the Theater of the Riverside Church, will present a special screening of the historic documentary, Frantz Fanon: His Life, His Struggle, His Work, on Thursday, July 20th at the Theater of the Riverside Church, at 91 Claremont Avenue and 120th Street in Manhattan. This program is the continuation of an established tradition to celebrate the birthdays of three illustrious  Black men, Malcolm X, Patrice Lumumba and Frantz Fanon, who were all born during the same year, 1925, as well as in the three cardinal points of the Pan-African world: the U.S., Africa and the Caribbean. In effect, these tri-continental icons represent the “revolutionary class of 1925â€?, and became internationally renowned during the 1960s worldwide African liberation and Black consciousness movements, which they each influenced in their own way.

However, although many people the U.S., Africa and the Caribbean have regularly paid their respect for both Malcolm and Lumumba, little attention has been given to Frantz Fanon, a revolutionary psychiatrist who was born on July 20, 1925 in Martinique, a will be paid two special tributes on the 80th anniversary of his date of birth at the Theater of the Riverside Church, one beginning at 6 PM and the second scheduled to begin at 8 PM.  

Although born in Martinique, a French colony since 1635 (it became part of the French overseas department in 1946), and later chose to accept President Charles De Gaulle offer of a referendum to vote “Ouiâ€? for pseudo-autonomy to remain part of the French Republic or “Nonâ€?, which was self-determination and independence, which was presented to all their colonies; only Guinea rejected Paris’ offer. Martinicans had mixed feelings, as did others ensconced in the French colonial empire. Fanon, who was mentored by Aime Cesaire, a leading figure in the negritude movement while simultaneously being a preeminent activist in the French Communist Party, also struggle with such issues before deciding to go to France to learn medicine, where he was sent to  Algeria, France’s largest colony.

After observing how France ruled its society in general and its the colonies in particular, especially those wretched souls who had been institutionalized in mental hospitals, Fanon realized how deep French racism was imbedded in both civil society and the military. He found a feeling of disgust and alienation with the inhumanity and contradictions in Paris and their brutal and exploitive methods. As a result, he eventually evolved to commit himself to the Algerian national liberation struggle in North Africa, going on to play a critical and dominate role in developing the theoretical analysis psychiatric care to those Algerians who were torn by the stress of trying to be both French and Algerian, the former silently strangling the latter. 

His brilliant work dealing with studies on violence and psychic damage among oppressed peoples revealed the depth that human consciousness can be subjected to when they are under the control of repressive regimes. His bestselling books include “The Wretched of the Earth�, “Black Skins, White Masks�, and “A Dying Colonialism�, among others, and although these works were written over four decades ago, they are still as relevant today as they were when he first wrote them. It is precisely because of this reason that the organizers decided to show this splendid 52 minute documentary directed by Cheikh Djemai, in French and Arabic with English subtitles.

Fanon’s analysis of racism and alienation, lack of self-esteem, and perspective of how protracted imperialist and colonial violence finally forces the oppressed to respond in an aggressive retaliatory violent response to address their depraved condition. Rebellious violent responses are natural when oppressed and repressed peoples reach the  limits of tolerance to their submission. It would seem that understanding Fanon should  be made a priority mandatory reading for U.S. foreign policy makers who mistakenly believe that exploited and impoverished peoples do not understand the difference between foreign occupation and  democratic self-determined social order. 

Fanon also understood that Black people and other peoples of color can be frustrated to the extent that they can be manipulated to engage themselves into systematic violent fratricidal conflicts and ethnocide. That this has not been yet resolved cannot be divorced from the growing tendencies towards genocide across the globe. Although this is mostly sporadic it is often a widely spread frenzied behavior that is auto-destructive and self-defeating to their own interests. In fact, Fanon thoughts are as much needed now as he was when we first encountered his thoughts in the mid-1950 and throughout the 1960s and even on up until today.

Immediately following the film will be a discussion on the role of Fanon’s thought in the African world struggle today. Specifically, the objective will be to ascertain the meaning of his contributions in regards to Black youth in Africa and throughout the African Diaspora during the time he lived, and what lessons can be learned from both of his race and class analysis. For although these works were written over four decades ago, they are still as relevant today as they were when he first wrote them. It is precisely because of this reason that the organizers decided to show this splendid 52 minute documentary directed by Cheikh Djemai, in French and Arabic with English subtitles.

Fanon’s analysis of racism and alienation, lack of self-esteem, and perspective of how protracted imperialist and colonial violence finally forces the oppressed to respond in an aggressive retaliatory violent response to address their depraved condition. Rebellious violent responses are natural when oppressed and repressed peoples reach the  limits of tolerance to their submission. It would seem that understanding Fanon should  be made a mandatory priority reading for U.S. foreign policymakers who mistakenly believe that exploited and impoverished peoples do not understand the difference between foreign occupation and  democratic self-determined social order. 

Fanon also understood that Black people and other peoples of color can be frustrated to the extent that they can be manipulated to engage themselves into systematic violent fratricidal conflicts and ethnocide. That this has not been yet resolved cannot be divorced from the growing tendencies towards genocide across the globe. Although this is mostly sporadic it is often a widely spread frenzied behavior that is auto-destructive and self-defeating to their own interests. In fact, Fanon thoughts are as much needed now as he was when we first encountered his thoughts in the mid-1950 and throughout the 1960s and even on up until today.

Immediately following the film will be a discussion on the role of Fanon’s thought in the African world struggle today. Specifically, the objective will be to ascertain the meaning of his contributions in regards to Black youth in Africa and throughout the African Diaspora during the time he lived, and what lessons can be learned from his both race and class analysis, particularly with the growing phenomena of scores of – for lack of better terminology – “lumpen-nouveau-riche-entertainment class youthâ€?, who are getting over by hyping pathological personal histories in pursuit of bourgeois values and rewards.â€? 

There will also be a bonus showing of another important docu-drama, ‘Catch A Fire�, based on the life of an early radical son of the English-speaking Caribbean, Paul Bogle, the Jamaican deacon who led the Morant Bay land reform rebellion against the Victorian racist and class rulers in Britain and its colonies. The British Crown was supported by France, Spain and the U.S. to continue the oppression of the African masses in Jamaica, even though slavery had been abolished in 1838 – 27 years earlier. The Crown even invoked the support of the Maroons, who had won their freedom from the British authorities in both London and in Kingston, inveigling the Maroons into supporting the English through a quid-pro-quo arrangement based on the settlement between Britain and the Maroons in 1739. In a certain sense, the struggle over land and white privilege that historically was arrogated by Europeans who used brute force to wrest away the inalienable rights of Black people to control and own that Black people are still struggling with today from Harare to Harlem, and other places in the world that African people have been dispossessed of the world’s most important real estate – which revolutions are often fought over.

To be able to see the lives of Frantz Fanon and Paul Bogle at the same screening is almost unbelievable. But thanks once again to ArtMattan Productions (for the last 14 years) your attendance can allow you to witness that such historic gems can be paired in the uses of cinema as a weapon to educate the masses. 
 
For further information and how to acquire tickets, call (212) 870-6784 or go online at
www.TicketWeb.com.

To advertise or subscribe to New York's leading Pan-African weekly please call (212) 481-7745 or contact milton@blackstarnews.com

Also Check Out...

BRITS HONOR FIRST BLACK ARMY
A Tale of Two Cities
NEARLY HALF A MILLION JOIN ROUSING
Ntozake Shange speaks to
How Sweet It Is
MEDICAL CENTER TO HONOR SIERRA