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Frantz Fanon and the Lived Experiences of the Black Subject

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Frantz Fanon and the Lived Experiences of the Black Subject[edit]

The lived experience of the black person relates to the profound sense of feeling and living through the social conditions that define a particular time and place[1]. In Frantz Fanon's first book Black Skin White Masks, he tasks himself with exploring the experiences of the black subject. Fanon does not look at the lived experiences in the ordinary sense of the term, but rather considers a domain of experience that is rooted in the context of the world the experience takes place in[2]. In Black Skin White Masks, Fanon navigates the lived experiences by drawing inspiration from psychanalysis, literary texts, medical terminology, and philosophy[2]. Fanon placed emphasis on the concepts of Négritude and Political consciousness in the navigation of the experiences of black subjects.

Négritude is conceptualised as both the celebration of black culture and forms of expression, as well as a resistance to the politics of assimilation[2][3]. Fanon is aware that the colonized individual accepts part of their “white-scripted” history and in some ways actively participate in it[3]. However, the idea that human freedom and the capacity for resistance are extinguished even in structurally oppressive social circumstances, such as those in which colonized and enslaved people lived, is passionately rejected by Fanon[3]. Thus, Fanon recognizes Négritude’s positive reinvention of “blackness” as a social reality, constructed by the oppressed for specific socio-political, emancipatory, and therapeutic aims[3].

Political consciousness is the way in which one is crucially a part of the world and its conditions, and how one should attempt to change the world through carefully considered political projects[2]. Fanon used this concept to show that the field of psychological phenomena, and the experiences of the black individual, always deserve a political level of analysis. Political consciousness thus entails a careful consideration of facticity. These are the seemingly concrete factors that define your situation in the world, such as the actual physical environment in which you live, the place and time of birth, class membership, nationality, gender, or race, which cannot be transcended[1].

In Black Skin White Masks, Fanon echoes the concepts of Negritude and Political Consciousness by recounting the experiences of the colonized individual. Thus, the entirety of the book speaks to the lived experiences of a black subject. Throughout the book, Fanon places heavy importance on the freedom and agency that the black subject maintains[3]. This agency is subsequently what would enable the black individual to bring about resistance and emancipation from the White Mask (a symbol of white assimilation) they are adopting. This would be accomplished through the black subject grounding themselves with political consciousness and using Negritude as a resistance strategy[3].


  1. 1.0 1.1 Social psychology : identities and relationships. Kopano Ratele, Norman Duncan. Cape Town, South Africa. 2017. ISBN 978-1-4851-0231-1. OCLC 1241255323. Search this book on
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Hook, D. (2004). Frantz Fanon, Steve Biko,‘psychopolitics’, and critical psychology.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Nielsen, C. R. (2013). Frantz Fanon and the Négritude movement: How strategic essentialism subverts Manichean binaries. Callaloo, 36(2), 342-352.


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