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 The So-called dependency Complex of the Colonized

In Chapter 4 of Black Skin, White Masks, Fanon challenges Mannoni’s claim that the inferiority complex of the colonized existed (in latent form) before the colonizers showed up, and that it manifests itself when the colonized demand equality (and is rejected) and refuse to be dependent on the Europeans.  According to Mannoni, the choices of the colonized are to be dependent on the colonizer or suffer from the inferiority complex that had been latent since childhood.

There is a question/challenge I’ve encountered several times from whites, directed to me or other persons of color, and it goes along the lines of “European (white) civilization is the most advanced civilization in the world for as you can see, we are the most accomplished in the arts, sciences, democracy, philosophy, everything!  So, what accomplishments can your people lay claim to?”  The directness of white supremacy/racism varies, but the meaning is the same.  It is a move that is supposed to put the “other” in place, and that is always a place lower than the speaker and the white race.  When we talk about colonization, the question/statement I refer to above is also used as a justification for White European domination of the colonies.

Fanon says, “It is utopian to expect the black man and the Arab to make the effort of including abstract values in their weltanschauung when they have barely food enough food to survive,”(p.75) and that in absolute nothing stands in the way of people achieving great accomplishments, nothing except for a lack of opportunities.

The point is, the complex psychopathologies of the colonized and people of color stems from the situation in the world that they find themselves in, a situation created by the racists, the colonizers, and by the structure of a reality dominated by white supremacy.

As Fanon said, “Let us have courage to say: It is the racist who creates the inferiorized.”  (p.73) There is black only because of white.  The very term “people of color” only exists because whiteness has been (and still is to a large degree) positioned as a universal form of humanity.

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