1. The list of approaches that I have outlined here are not exhaustive, nor are the approaches that I have outlined as simple or as straightforward as I have represented them. Regarding the former, one can engage in a critique on the basis of race that is not focused on a specific figure and/or a specific figure’s work. Regarding the latter, one might also engage in any one of these critiques (which I have listed) simultaneously. As such, I offer these three approaches in order to provide a framework for my own project, while recognizing that it is somewhat of an oversimplification. These three approaches received significant influence from a talk given by Dilek Huseyinzadegan at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 2015.
2. It should be noted here that I am drawing a distinction between Badiou’s discussion of “color” that composes the majority of his book Black and his discussion of “race” at the end of this same book. However, it is important to note that for Badiou race is only a color that has gained a series of “false ‘objective’ bases for oppressive classifications” (Badiou 2017, 104).
3. Similarly, one could also address his reference to “black gangsters” (Badiou 2011a, 292).
4. In a similar vein, Ciccariello-Maher notes his concern regarding the kind of universalism advanced by Badiou and figures like him (2017, 3).
5. See Sartre 1976, 2004a, 2004b; Kruks 1996; Marcano 2003.
6. See Fanon 1967, 2004, 2008; Bernasconi 1996, 2002, 2004; L. Gordon 1995, 2015; Nayar 2013.
7. See Césaire 1972, 1983, 2001, 2010.
2. Badiou on Race and the Fanon–Sartre Debate
1. Fanon states: “The concept of negritude for example was the affective if not logical antithesis of that insult which the white man had levelled at the rest of humanity. This negritude, hurled against the contempt of the white man, has alone proved capable in some sectors of lifting taboos and maledictions” (2004, 150). Therein, Fanon seems to be describing Négritude as the direct opposite of the negative stereotypes construed and hurled by colonizers, which in effect did offer some successes. At the same time, however, Fanon also attributes to Négritude “naïveté, petulance, freedom, and indeed luxuriance. But also irresponsibility” (151). Similarly, in What Fanon Said, Lewis R. Gordon notes that Fanon “continues his meditations on negritude [in The Wretched of the Earth] on the grounds that in this instance it is more than a negative moment in a historical dialectic because of the misapplication it engenders through nationalism, racism, and all self-interest-laden models of group organizations instead of those premised on the common good” (2015, 121, emphasis in original). It would be incorrect to assume, or to assert, that Fanon’s implementation and understanding of Négritude sits squarely within the project that I am proposing. As noted above, at various points in time Fanon is quite critical of Négritude in a manner that is not inconsistent with Sartre’s articulation of Négritude in “Black Orpheus.” While I address various differences of opinions on the focus and function of Négritude (which should also be understood as divergent and pluralistic at times), my focus in this chapter is to address Fanon’s critique of Sartre’s articulation of the relation between race and class.
2. One could draw a connection between Sartre’s book titled Anti-Semite and Jew (1976) and Badiou’s book titled Reflections on Anti-Semitism (2012). That said, such a discussion falls outside of the purview of this book.
3. Of course, one could also attend to his discussion of the black soul in relation to Senghor’s discussion of the black soul, but that is not the foremost concern in this project.
4. See the Critique of Dialectical Reason for Sartre’s extended discussion on race, notably the section titled “Racism and Colonialism as Praxis and Process.” This later shift in Sartre’s articulation of race and colonialism is worth an extended analysis. However, I have opted to postpone such an analysis. The function of my work on Sartre in this chapter is to draw a parallel between his work and the twenty-first-century work by Badiou, which falls into Sartre’s earlier articulation of race.
5. It should also be noted that Sartre states the following: “I call this method ‘objective poetry’ magic, or charm” (1948, 30). Furthermore, he juxtaposes the myths of Négritude poetry with the epic poems of Medieval French poetry.
6. Put more concretely, Sartre seems to claiming that Négritude proposes the racial superiority of Black people over and against people of other races—including, one would assume, white people. Of course, such a line of argument fails to account for historical (and generational) harms from enslavement and/or marginalization through which the process of racialization takes place. Furthermore, it also fails to adequately understand the goals and principles of the Négritude movement, as will be made evident below.
7. This chapter has also been translated as “The Fact of Blackness” in the 1967 Markmann translation. In the original French, the title of the fifth chapter is “L’experience vécu du noir,” a title that makes explicit reference to lived experiences. As such, the Markmann translation is quite misleading and is a problematic translation.
8. Regarding the positive interchange between Fanon and Sartre, we can note their friendship and collegial exchanges. For instance, Sartre was asked to write the Preface to Wretched of the Earth. Furthermore, they met up at various points in time to discuss their respective theories. Sartre also visited Fanon when he was on his deathbed just after having arrived in the United States. These are just a few examples of the continuous dialogue, support, and respect that they held for each other. Simone de Beauvoir’s Force of Circumstance (1965) provides descriptions of their various interactions. Additionally, “Fanon also admired Sartre, whose open position on the Algerian War, a position that endangered his life in France as the bombings of two of his apartments attests, redeemed him politically in Fanon’s eyes” (L. Gordon 2015, 130–31).
9. Fanon also references these lines in Black Skin, White Masks. See Fanon 2008, 103.
10. Ciccariello-Maher argues that for Fanon “class was always an important but secondary phenomenon[,] . . . [and] the central category of identification was first blackness, or negritude (in Black Skin, White Masks), and later the decolonial nation (in Wretched of the Earth)” (2017, 48).
11. While Fanon does not remain an avid supporter of Négritude throughout his entire, albeit cut far too short, life, it is a significant aspect of some of his earlier writings, in particular Black Skin, White Masks.
5. Sylvia Wynter’s Theory of Emancipation
1. I use the term “New World” throughout this chapter in part because of Wynter’s dependence upon it. That said, I also recognize that the presumption that the Americas is or was a new world fails to acknowledge that Indigenous communities were present on the continent prior to the arrival of European settlers. In addition, it risks perpetuating a narrative of the Americas as terra nullius, which is false but also central to arguments for settler colonialism.
2. True Christian Self, Man 1, and Man 2 (in addition to Man discussed prior to a distinction between its first and second form) as well as the Human, in this instance, are all technical terms that will be capitalized throughout.
3. Wynter’s binding together of Judaism and Christianity in the concept “Judeo-Christian” has been criticized. For the remainder of this chapter, I refer to this period as the Christian conception of the subject, or the True Christian Self.
4. Spirit/Flesh is a technical term used by Sylvia Wynter.
5. In The Avengers of the New World, Laurent Dubois notes how “the ‘devastation of the Indies’ was chronicled by Bartolomé de Las Casas, who arrived in Hispaniola [the island which would later become Haiti and the Dominican Republic] as a young settler in 1502, and was transformed by what he saw. Within a decade he became the first priest ordained in the Americas, and a harsh critic of the brutal treatment of the Taino by the Spaniards” (2004, 14).
6. It is important to note that slavery was extremely violent and cruel, and my use of “unjust methods” is not meant to distract from the violence that was enacted, and that has permeated generation after generation of those who were/are negatively impacted. However, it is not entirely clear that Las Casas was concerned with the ways in which slaves from Africa were treated. Rather, as noted by Wynter in the quote above, he seems primarily concerned with how “just title” and “justice” are conceived within a particular worldview. As such, I have used the term “unjust methods” in this sentence to locate what seems to me to be the center around which Las Casas argument pivots. That said, as noted by Dubois, “Las Casas had, ironically, advocated the importation of African slaves to save the brutalized indigenous population. Soon imported slaves replaced the rapidly dying indigenous ones, serving as laborers in a new industry that supplemented that of mining” (2004, 15).
7. There seems to be some debate regarding the justifications used by Las Casas and Sepúlveda. While some times it seem apparent that Sepúlveda relies heavily on Aristotle to defend his claims, at other times it seems as though Las Casas “appears to accept that theory, or at least admit the possibility, that some men are by nature slaves” (Hanke 1959, 57), and yet he does not seek to defend that position in the context of the debate. Rather, “his argument tends to lead inevitably to the conclusion that no nation—or people—should be condemned as a whole to such an inferior position” (58).
8. It is important to note that Wynter explicitly references Fanon in this quote, indirectly citing the 1963 version of his Wretched of the Earth.
9. The lack of attention to race in Beauvoir’s project is problematic. See Gines 2014 and Rivera Berruz 2016.
10. This selection of text refers to a specific era of Césaire’s writings. There are various eras in his writings and (significantly) his political career, and there were various twists and turns throughout. That said, the quote that is used here most accurately reflects Wynter’s use of his works.