Frantz Fanon mused the purpose of his Black Skin, White Masks 1, arriving at the cognizance that "there are too many idiots on this earth. And [having] said it, [was tasked with proving it]â€¦." This awareness serves as the foundation of his analysis.
At the fledgling age of eighteen, Fanon escaped Nazi-ruled Martinique as a dissident to enlist in the French Forces. His impulsive decision to defend the interests of the French peasant was quickly lamented as Fanon realized the peasant himself did not give a damn. Even so, his involvement in the war served a purpose far more significant than Allied victory or protection of the French peasantry; the oppressive nature of the structurally racist armed forces would act as the guiding force behind his book, Black Skin, White Masks. In Chapter Five, Fanon describes his ontological studies through the "Lived Experience of the Black Man," stating in a personal dialect that blackness encompassed "A feeling of not existing. Sin is black as virtue is white...The black man is a toy in the hands of the white man. So in order to break the vicious circle, he explodes." Within the colonial relationship this piece was originally intended to examine, recognition was all but present. Fanon was concerned that this racism depersonalizes the black man since the "master" did not see. In context, being black does not imply inferiority, but instead suggests a lack of existence. The black man, regardless of intellect
or capacity, is not worthy of the same class as the white man and, must thus react with vehement, __________________
1Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Mask, trans. Charles Lam Markmann, (New York, Grove Press, 1967): 89-119.
calculated action to alter existing conditions.
The Coup's "Land of 7 Billion Dances" opens with the "Occubus," a symbol of the Occupy Oakland movement that pitted the wealthy (1%) against the middle and lower classes (99%), coming to a complete stop just as a white male peeks out the driver side window. Unshaken by the end of the official campaign, the band continued to bawl its message through lyrics such as "We agitate it," "We finna take it," and "It's fuck they circus," supplementing these harsh words with two erect middle fingers. Their anger, clear expressions of contempt for current power structures, is communicated from the standpoint of an evolved Fanonian black, French peasantry. Fanon's contention was that since colonialism was built and maintained by violence, then only by violence could it be destroyed. And violence not by the middle-class, which is too brainwashed by their "masters," but by the poor. Fanon opposed decolonization and was much rather interested in the seizure of independence by the oppressed people. This very act of armed seizure would be liberating and contribute to the birth of a, once unimaginable, self-respect.
Fanon inflects his ontological study with the understanding that racism generates harmful psychological impositions that both blind the black man to his subjection to a universalized white norm and alienate his consciousness. Fanon insists that the category "black" depends for its stability on its negation, "white." While it may be true that neither one may exist without the other, the system in place is contingent upon a dominant social stratification that fundamentally limits the power of the black man. The nature of the music video relies upon this very principle to draw significance from the genre of music that is Rock 'n Roll. Rock 'n Roll is a philosophy, attitude, and way of life. The purpose of it, as opposed to other types of music, is to rebel and stick it to "the man," which in this case is the white man's construct of the social system. Rock 'n Roll is a way to dissent from established institutions, which is the underlying meaning these individuals seek to transfer to viewers. The true purpose of their music lies in the effect on
people's souls and minds, the potential to inject individuals with real confidence and remind them of their rage that is never to be dismissed.
The presence of the black power symbol and "FTP" (Fight The Power) on the bus, a clear connect to the historic and politically conscious black population; however, implies that the idea self-empowerment is an already forward moving thought. The title, "Land of 7 Billion Dances," refers to the seven billion people on Earth performing their dance individually, but when danced together create a movement and invoke change. This change, according to Nicole Fleetwood's "Busing It" in the City: Black Youth, Performance, and Public Transit 2, is already well underway. Within this piece, Fleetwood theorizes that the public transit represents a performative space, where the playing out of a role and stereotype are intensified within the physical space of the bus. The reason for such a performance becomes imminent when Fleetwood states, "In the years following the Civil Rights movement, the specter of racialized, specifically black, youth as thugs became a symbol of postindustrial anxiety and disappointment." The actions of the black youth on public transportation, which the general public seems to interpret as delinquency, are actually a performance meant to toy with the anxieties of adults, irrespective of white or black.
When juxtaposed with Fanon's findings, Fleetwood's assertion of the bus as being a performative space transforms into a mechanism of creating power for black individuals. The black youth no longer fall prey to the typical agent of power, but instead become the source of power. These findings indicate a new atmosphere of direct action by taking matters into personal
2Fleetwood, Nicole R. "Busing It" in the City Black Youth, Performance, and Public Transit."Â TDR: TheÂ Drama Review. (MIT Press, 2004): 33-48.
hands, but only within the scope of the racialized youth. Fleetwood's theory does not intend to cast white against black, but rather suggests an onslaught of fear that the black youth instill in all races. Fanon would agree with such a course of action and encourage further development that would allow the black man to transcend imposed societal limitations. Interestingly enough, "Land of 7 Billion Dances" starts out in midst of a low income area on the streets of Oakland, but ends in a luxurious looking hall. The transition from humble to posh gives rise to the notion that development and improvement are in place, but only with the consciousness of origin. At the source of Fanon's and Fleetwood's argument is that black individuals, although black women are not overtly mentioned by Fanon, must demand, if not create, a social equality. The black youth have so far been capable of achieving such a task as determined by Fleetwood's analysis of the public transit, while the black adult continues to struggle in hopes of achieving the white man's recognition.
Black Skin, White Masks is irreplaceable for the very reason that it details the lived experience through the life of Frantz Fanon, inflecting a personal perspective that zeros in on the black psyche in a white world. The black man is thirsty for representation and the existence of an ontology that is not free of, but instead held with the same regard as the white man. Nearly fifty two years later, Nicole Fleetwood would introduce her own study, suggesting traces of a growing black power within the specific realm of the transit system. Both of these studies have had an unprecedented impact on the culture of black analysis and lead to one salient conclusion: The fate of the black man lies in his own hands.