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The CLR James Journal

Volume 24, Issue 1/2, Fall 2018

Victor Peterson II
Pages 205-214

Black Not

The Afro-Pessimist contends the impossibility of building a movement from “absolutely nothing.” This assumption comes from a misreading of Franz Fanon’s proposition in Black Skin, White Masks, “The Negro is not. Any more than the white man.” This paper analyzes the structure of Fanon’s proposition by considering ‘not’ as an operator while challenging and setting limits to the function of Identity utilized by the Pessimist. The way in which Fanon puts to use the elements of his proposition functions as that statement’s meaning, rather than assuming a dictionary definition for each word whose sum presupposes a definition of the sentence. Where the Afro-Pessimist treats the period in Fanon’s assertion as a full stop, intending Black Identity’s interchangeability with “absolutely nothing,” I take the logical structure of Fanon’s assertion as a conditional, illustrating the fallacy inherent to the Pessimist position. In all, the structure of a proposition begets its expressive capacity.

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