Philosopher and 20th century revolutionist, Frantz Fanon, instilled in the Caribbean people the importance of national identity. His message was conveyed to the Caribbean people in his narrative, “National Culture.” Fanon, informed citizens of Caribbean nations, certain criteria they must possess to establish national culture. Fanon, stated that citizens must first fight for their independence from those who colonized them. Fanon wanted the nation their own identity, which cannot happen if they are under the rule and control of another nation.
When European settlers colonized nations in the America’s, Asia, and Africa many countries lost their sense of self and lost their identity, Fanon stated, “…they realize they are in danger of losing their lives and thus becoming lost to their people.” Illustrated how important a sense of identity is important when establishing national culture. This is shown by present day national culture among people in the Latin America. Puerto Rican Day parade is a current day example of national culture. Every year, Puerto Ricans in the United States honor their heritage and culture with music, marches, and food. The largest celebration takes place annually in New York City, where the event is largely represented in American popular culture and with celebrity attendees and political figures. The Puerto Rican Day parade is a celebration of culture Latin American/ Puerto Rican culture and a way to pay homage to those who have paved the way to allow Latin Americans to feel welcome in the United States. The Puerto Rican Day parade is also a way to remember a time in the United States history when owning a Puerto Rican flag led to a jail sentence, now the Puerto Rican flag is proudly displayed and proudly held by the attendees at the annual parade.
National culture requires more than national pride, it also requires all the citizens of the nation to have similar ideals and beliefs for the future of one’s nation. Fanon states, “A national culture is the whole body of efforts made by the people in the sphere of thought to describe, justify, and praise the action…” Fanon understood that national culture, requires all the citizens to understand and be on the same team. The best way to ensure the citizens are on the same team with same ideals and beliefs is to make create national literature, a way to address all the citizens in the same manner. Fanon expresses, “It is only from that moment we can speak of national literature… at the level of literary creation, the taking up and clarification of themes which are typically nationalist…calls on the whole people to fight for their existence as a nation.” Native intellectuals address their people, to ensure all the citizens have the same understanding, since they realized there was strength in numbers. National literature was a way to get people to fight for their national culture. Illustrated by Jose Marti in Cuba or Frantz Fanon of the Caribbean.
Fanon, also identified some negative aspects of national consciousness. When nations were under European rule, they were unable to govern or run themselves; therefore, when the time came for them to run a nation, the nation became unstable. The new independence the nations gained also led many of the citizens to wonder what would have happened if they received independence earlier and had not been colonized by the European settlers. Another dilemma with national consciousness is the middle class. When the Caribbean nations received their independence, the middle class rose and became the new elite class. The rise of middle class to elite class widened the gap between elite and poor class citizens in the nation. Such a large gap in nations also lead to instability in the nation. The national instability of the nation is due to the elite class still wanting support from their colonized country. This created an issue because the elite class should have supported the citizens of their nation. However, greed gets the best of individuals, causing the elite class to want to prosper themselves, even if it means losing their pride. The nation of Haiti is a great example of the negative effects of national consciousness, as pointed out by Frantz Fanon. After achieving independence from France, Haiti was unstable during its early years. The former middle-class mulattos became the elite class and the enslaved Africans and other freed black became part of the lower class, when Haiti achieved independent status.
- The post-colonial studies reader: National Culture Frantz Fanon.