Julien’s film thus pointed to (or pricked, if you will) the gap left within the white student by the secret of Civil Rights, a “fact” of blackness kept secret all these years in order to protect the integrity of the Father’s dream: that little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. “Inalienable” subject positions in tow, black children would be made equal to their white siblings, who in return would cast looks of desirous approval upon the Other’s face. The dirty business of oppression/recognition games that still plague such subject positions would henceforth be the guarded family secret of the Civil Rights movement that Fanon’s text lets out of the bag. And it is this same secret which our young student, plagued by the phantom in a bored half-dream state, deferentially returned to its “rightful” place when she began to draw Fanon’s face. An accurate likeness of Fanon’s face, therefore, only appeared to be the goal, both to herself as well as her peers. For she was merely taking aim at “Fanon” in order to unconsciously maintain the Family fiction that we don’t think of those we like as “black,” that no longer shall a little white girl say to her mommy Look, a Negro! The student’s body, though, betrayed her. For the body always manages to speak, even in its most aphasic state, as those bits and pieces of Fanon’s face scattered across a young student’s notepad will always remind us.
1. By “internalized aim,” we do not mean to imply an internalized racism stemming from a repression mechanism whereby a given desire returns in the form of repulsion. Rather, we speak here of an internalized aim which cannot be, as Nicholas Abraham states, designated to a repressed desire. It is an aim that “pursues in silence its work of disarray,... [giving] rise to endless repetition, and more often than not [eluding] rationalization”. See Nicholas Abraham, “Notes on the Phantom: A Complement to Freud’s Metapsychology,” collected in Critical Inquiry, (Winter 1987), p. 291.
2. Abraham, p. 289.
3. Abraham, p. 290.
4. For the purposes of this article, which does not purport to be a psychoanalytical case study, the "young white student" is a composite of several students who attended a class on Fanon instructed by the authors.
5. John F. Kennedy, televised address (Washington, D.C., June 11, 1963).
6. Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks,(London: Pluto Press, 1993), p. 116.
7. Abraham, p. 75.
8. Delivered by Martin Luther King before the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963 as the keynote address of the March on Washington, D.C., for Civil Rights.
9. Fanon, p. 116.
10. Fanon, p. 32.
Juli Carson is a curator and critic living in Los Angeles. She is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Art Department at UCLA. Lindi Emoungu is an artist and writer living in Los Angeles.