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RACIAL INTERCOURSE AND THE DEATH OF RACISM IN OLUBUNMI FAMILONI’S COLOURS DIE IN THE DARK By Damilola

Written by Bada Yusuf Amoo


Abstract

The concept of racism is one that has been suckled from its bustiness to slippersness by postcolonial critics and scholars as well. However, disheartening it is that racist practices still persist across the globe despite the fact that the erection of such discourse has cummed some effects before reaching its point of diminishing returns. To this effect, Familoni has given the discourse some fellatio that excites it and arouses the interest of readers.

This essay is on heat to view Familoni’s work as a sort of drop in the pool of letters that trickle back to the Centre and leaching all the nutrients of racist auto-indoctrination that make their minds fertile land germinating propagated racist ideas. It also touches the inefficiencies gaining currency in many socio-cultural and economic engagements of African states. 

Except in few occasions that could call for argument, the essay will stand firm on the postulations and assertions of theoreticians like: Frantz Fanon, Homi Bhabha, Satoshi Mizutani and few others in course of the discourse.

Keywords: Black, White, Race, Theory, Colours, Postcolonial Discourse.

Introduction

Racism is one of the topics mostly dredged among scholars. Not because it is entertaining and interesting but because it is that which deals with the generality of humanity. It is what defines the success/failure, living/death of some set of people. It is a phenomenon that affects whether human will continue living as humans or as animals, devouring one another psychologically.

Critics, poets and other scholars have addressed racism in different shades. They start with what frequency of thought and feelings the mind of a black person tunes to when they come in contact with a white person. Fanon believes that, “when the black man comes in contact with the white world, he goes through an experience of sensitization. His ego collapses. His self-esteem evaporates.”[1] The physical intercourse existing between black and white renders black speechless and dumb. White becomes the speaker, the dictator virtually in all things concerning the Other. The black person speaks only in reaction to a particular action initiated by the white man. This is why in his Black Skin, White Masks, Fanon’s anger is directed not towards the “black man” but the proposition that he is required not only to be black but he must be black in relation to the white man.[2]

In the context of postcolonial discourse, Gayatari Spivak shows her concern “to articulate what she sees as the difficulties and contradictions involved in constructing a ‘speaking position’ for the subaltern. The subaltern, the Other, the Periphery the margin as opposed the Centre, Us, We, are terms that connote poststructural binarism, fissures and dyads in postcolonial discourse. The regions which the first set of denigrating nomenclatures include, Africa and Asia, which the whites have decided to taxonomise as the Third Worlds. The stifled voices of postcolonial theorist however muffle the need to stop using the term for those continents.

Another thing addressed by postcolonial critics borders on interracial contact, which Bhabha terms hybridity. This connotes the coming together of two paradoxes that produce hyphenated characters and metaphorical offspring who have predominantly white dominant gene and black recessive gene. In other words, in cultural sex and sexuality between the black and the white races, the latter always dominates while the former always accepts whatever the latter proposes. This is what Fanon terms as internalization or epidermalisation. The white is simply the emblem of supremacy wherever it is while the black is always that of inferiority. In Satoshi Mizutani’s words:

He existed, always and anywhere. Like a ‘light’, the white subject would reach every corner of the colonized land, its every spot of ‘darkness’. He was not merely a medium of ‘enlightenment and knowledge’ and of the `wonders’ of English liberalism. He was himself transcendence, an ever-transcending carrier of these values of Western modernity.[3]

What crystallises from the above is the cocky image that the whites have festooned their psyche with when it comes to racial comparison; of course, which they tend to initiate the most. This makes them to be blind to the instances where people from other races tend to be much better. However this self-perfection constructed and presented by the white to other races which they perceive to be passive has its survival in the psyche of the recipient and this is what Olubunmi Familoni presents in the short fiction, Colours Die in the Dark.

Black and Its Metaphysics

Black has much inexplicable power in it. A black pair of trousers or shoes goes with any other colour, the fashionistas would agree. When a room is black, it is black, no other colour. This is not however expected to be taken for a mere psychedelic synaesthesia when interpreted as the perseverance as well as tolerance in the black race. Blacks survive anywhere and live with anyone one when they are not threatened by such guest.

The ontological dominance power in every black but unexplored by many is depicted as the two characters in the flash enter into a room. Immediately they enter, the strong, white, fluorescent light dies. The two characters are very happy with the fact that with a “click, and the white of the fluorescent lamps is swallowed in a black of being abruptly blind.”( Par1). This provides the reader with two forked images. The first is that of sexual intercourse the black woman is penetrated by the white man, thus swallowing him in that process. It also shows the potency in blackness which the white should be aware of and thus beware of denigrating the black people and which in the same vein, the black, a potentate who does not know what she possesses should be apprised. In a nutshell, the major metaphysics in the black is the ability to persevere, to tolerate, dominate and control, but which is not yet holistically explored by the race.

White, Images and Imagination of Colours

It will be partial, judgemental, racist and unblack of me to say that there are not black racists. Of course, there are many of them around. However in the fictional as well as the real world today and before, the initiators of battle of colour superiority have always been the whites. Even when many of them are yet to come in contact with other colours, they place derogatory judgement on many of those people and also on their places of abode, by surfacing their inadequacies and substandard ways of living. The unprintable behaviours of the leaders of such places are not left unturned. Of course it is not holistically a bad practice but the splinter in one’s eyes should be removed before trying to remove a neighbour’s log of wood.

The imagination Shakespeare creates about the blacks in his Tempest is evinced in the way he crafts Caliban as a beast who does not understand language, devoid of culture and lacking the sense of development. Othello constitutes a close phenomenon to Caliban in Shakespeare’s Othello. He is portrayed as an enviable warrior, of course. But, what about is proness to jealousy? What about his ineptitude in discerning and his lack of judgemental sense? Do these factor not subscribe to the popular notion that, “reason is Hellenic as emotion is Negroid?” The classification of the black to a subhuman class is further tendered in J Michael Dash’s preface to Edouard Gliassant’s phenomenal essay, Caribbean Discourse. A bosom thinking to this is explicitly exemplified in the Encyclopaedia Britannica reminds us of Gobineau’s assertion. It reads:

In the Essai, asserted the superiority of the white race over others and labeled the “Aryans,” i.e., the Germanic peoples, as representing the summit of civilization. He advanced the theory that the fate of civilizations is determined by racial composition, that white and in particular Aryan societies flourish as long as they remain free of black and yellow strains, and that the more a civilization’s racial character is diluted through miscegenation, the more likely it is to lose its vitality and creativity and sink into corruption and immorality.[4]

Could one not even say that Gobineau must have derived such idea from having read Shakespeare and some other writers and works of such nature that later formed him such mind set? Remember the character of Iago as the one who is mentally and diplomatically skilled and dexterious as against Othello, his master.

Like Shakespeare and Gobineau, the White character in Familoni’s work derives some synesthetic images from the voice of the female character, therefore, he has to gag her with his shirt. When she becomes smart enough to remove the shirt, she asks, “why did you cover my mouth?” and the man confesses, “I didn’t want to hear the black on your voice.” The imagination this male character enjoying the sweetness lurking around the hymen of the sexual partner is unbelievably that of some obnoxious blackness but the woman has a better response as she says, “may be the black that the problem is not the one on my skin, may be it is the one in your heart.” The lady’s response is a sharp edge enough that should break some Arctic racial mentality the ghostly Antarctica of some White’s brains as she finally says, “…You know when I saw you, I didn’t see white, I saw man, human.”

One can suture this discourse after a little moment of lettering surgery on it by saying that there is necessity to see one another as humans rather than as colours groups, ethnics, class or any sort of dyads. It is necessary to appreciate our nuances. We make Christmas lights and appreciate our creativity for those different colours, may we have been created so to make the creator feel fulfilled for his unparalleled creativity. If thinking dark is what kills our sensitivity to colour differences perhaps we should think dark and let colours die therein. Then we can have a peaceful and enjoyable relational intercourse when colours die in the dark of our minds.

 

[1] Fanon, Frantz. Black Skin, White Masks. London: Pluto Press (1986) pp 15

[2] Ibid 14

[3]

[4] “Gobineau, Joseph-Arthur, comte de.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Ultimate  Reference Suite.  Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2009.

About the author

Bada Yusuf Amoo