Frantz Fanon–The Black Vernacular Intellectual

“Violence is man re-creating himself. ”
― Frantz Fanon

By assimilating into Algerian culture, Fanon literally situates himself with the plight of the colonized and becomes a member of the struggle for freedom. By willingly becoming a member of this class of oppressed peoples (albeit born into the same system in Martinique), Fanon becomes a representative, a leader, and a spokesman for the cause of freedom from colonialism: “The vernacular intellectual is distinguished from the Gramscian organic by a situatedness within the popular, frequently racialized experience of disempowered constituencies” (Farred, 12). This solidarity with the Algerian people, coupled with his willingness to become a vocal leader for the movement, solidifies Fanon’s place among the catalogue of vernacular intellectuals. Like CLR James (who was cited as one of the definitive examples by Farred of a vernacular intellectual), Fanon sends a strong message to colonialist powers to let the colonized go free: “James saw a new human being and a new society emerging from modernity; Fanon saw one in the midst of revolution. Their message to post-colonial leaders and intellectuals is clear: decentralize power, integrate the people to the process of political decision, open spaces where people can express themselves, hear them, talk to them, report their achievements, comment on their cultural expressions, and make clear where they stand so that they may decide accordingly” (Maldonado-Torres, 189). Fanon’s status as a vernacular intellectual not only allowed for him to influence revolutionaries around the world, but also granted him the capability to fundamentally alter perceptions of race relations.

Farred, Grant. What’s My Name: Black Vernacular Intellectuals. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003.

Maldonado-Torres, Nelson. “Frantz Fanon and C.L.R. James on Intellectualism and Enlightened Rationality” Caribbean Studies 33.2 (2005): 149-194.

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