Frantz Fanon: The Grandfather of Critical Race Theory

headshot of frantz fanon
Briona Lamback
July 22, 2022

It was the stares that hurt. Frantz Fanon had moved to Paris to study psychiatry, but was struck by daggered white gazes. In him, they saw a monster, a “nigger.” 

So he gazed back and studied THEM! And in doing so, he changed forever how we understand white people and racism.

Fanon was a subject of the French. They did not truly know him, and still, they had the power to define him! As long as they were in control, his existence was based on their whims. Revolution rang in Fanon’s ear like a bell – but how?

He used his primary tool: his pen. He wrote critically and forcefully about anti-Blackness, but his French school of psychiatry found his first work too controversial and rejected it! He published it anyway, as a book – and changed the world.

“Black Skin, White Masks” ushered in a revolution in understanding, transforming how we talk even today about racism. It used psychoanalysis as well as political and literary analysis to explain anti-blackness and colonization. It especially opened the eyes of Black people, by showing us that “acting white” would never save us from white terror.

To this day, Fanon’s work is used to shape our understanding of race and oppression. His honesty was a mirror to the world – and only through honesty can we hope to change it.

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