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136 black skin white masks remus of white men

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136BLACK SKIN, WHITE MASKSRemus),of white men strangled by black men (Native Son, If He Hollers LetHim Go, Uncle Remus). . . . We can package the Negro’s grin and market iton a grand scale in our popular culture as a cloak for this masochism: Thecaress sweetens the blow. And, asUncle Remusshows, here the interplayof the races is in large part unconscious. The white man is no more awareof his masochism when he is being titillated by the subtle content of thestereotyped grin than the Negro is aware of his sadism when he transformsthe stereotype into a cultural bludgeon. Perhaps less.37In the United States, as we can see, the Negro makes storiesin which it becomes possible for him to work off his aggression;the white man’s unconscious justifies this aggression and givesit worth by turning it on himself, thus reproducing the classicschema of masochism.38We can now stake out a marker. For the majority of whitemen the Negro represents the sexual instinct (in its raw state).The Negro is the incarnation of a genital potency beyond allmoralities and prohibitions. The women among the whites, by agenuine process of induction, invariably view the Negro as thekeeper of the impalpable gate that opens into the realm of orgies,of bacchanals, of delirious sexual sensations. . . . We have shownthat reality destroys all these beliefs. But they all rest on the levelof the imagined, in any case on that of a paralogism. The whiteman who ascribes a malefic influence to the black is regressing onthe intellectual level, since, as we have shown, his perception isbased on a mental age of eight years (the comic books). Is therenot a concurrent regression to and fixation at pregenital levelsof sexual development? Self-castration? (The Negro is taken asa terrifying penis.) Passivity justifying itself by the recognition ofthe superiority of the black man in terms of sexual capacity? It37. Bernard Wolfe, “L’oncle Rémus et son lapin,”Les Temps Modernes,May, 1949,pp. 898 ff.38. It is usual to be told in the United States, when one calls for the real freedom of theNegro: “That’s all they’re waiting for, to jump our women.” Since the white manbehaves in an offensive manner toward the Negro, he recognizes that in the Negro’splace he would have no mercy on his oppressors. Therefore it is not surprising to seethat he identifies himself with the Negro: white “hot-jazz” orchestras, white bluesand spiritual singers, white authors writing novels in which the Negro proclaimshis grievances, whites in blackface.
THE NEGRO AND PSYCHOPATHOLOGY137is obvious what a variety of questions it would be interesting toraise. There are, for instance, men who go to “houses” in orderto be beaten by Negroes; passive homosexuals who insist onblack partners.Another solution might be this: There is first of all a sadisticaggression toward the black man, followed by a guilt complexbecause of the sanction against such behavior by the democraticculture of the country in question. This aggression is then toleratedby the Negro: whence masochism. But, I shall be told, your schemais invalid: It does not contain the elements of classic masochism.

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