Look to the cookie Elaine…look to the cookie

March 11, 2007

cookie.jpg

This piece tackled the hard hitting issue of race relations.  And with an issue this serious, of course the only thing that makes sense to do is to make a Seinfeld reference.  I’m sure we all remember the classic episode where Jerry explains to Elaine how the black and white cookie is the perfect example of racial harmony.  And if we would just “look to the cookie,” then all would be well.  However, it should also be noted that after consuming the cookie Jerry threw up shortly afterwards.  A symbol that the races can never peacefully coexist?  You decide.

But getting to the piece itself… I was a little unsure with how exactly Fanon wanted to compare African Americans to Jews.  On pages 115-16 he writes, “Granted, the Jews are harassed- what am I thinking of?  They are hunted down, exterminated, cremated.  But these are little family quarrels.  The Jew is disliked from the moment he is tracked down.  But in my case everything takes on a new guise.  I am given  no chance.  I am overdetermined from without.  I am the slave not of the “idea” that others have of me but of my own appearance.”  But then on page 122 he writes, “I joined the Jew, my brother in misery.”  Is he trying to say that the Jews are kind of like him in that they suffer too, but since he feels he suffers more, he wins? 

On  page 116 he writes, “When people like me, they tell me it is in spite of my color.  When they dislike me, they point out that it is not because of my color.”  Caucasians are commonly beginning sentences, “I’m not racist, but….”  There’s that need to cover yourself in fear that what you say will be construed as a racist comment.  Fanon also writes on being introduced as “the black friend”, page 116.  (I feel another Seinfeld reference coming on.)  There was an episode in which George’s boss, who is black, took something George had said as a racist comment.  George then looks to bring in one of his black friends to prove he is not a racist.  However, he has no black friends.  But George thinks the only way to show his boss he’s not racist is to have a black friend.  There is a fear among whites of being seen as a racist, so some people look for ways to prove they are not.

While I was reading this, I noticed some aspects of it seemed strongly Marxist.  These suspicions were proved when on page 133 it says, “it is no coincidence that the most ardent poets of negritude are at the same time militant Marxists.”  Kind of rained on my parade, here I thought I was applying what we had already read and was coming to some great understanding, but it was already spelled out, waiting for me to find.

I think I’m going to start relating all future blog posts to old episodes of Seinfeld,   makes them easier to write.

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3 Responses to “Look to the cookie Elaine…look to the cookie”

  1. brett glasser said

    Look to the Cookie! What great refrence. What other way to observe racial harmony than by looking to a Seinfeld episode.
    It is obvious that the issue of race is a touchy subject and reading the inner thoughts of a black man who is dealing with this sense of self is something that I simply cannot relate with. It is true when he describes how even though the Jew is persecuted it is something that cant be seen on the surface. He explains that even though he is a black man he cant ever escape this title. His outlook towards his ethnicity is described on 117 when he says “my blackness was there…and it tormented me, pursued me,disturned me angered me,” Fanon is not ashamed of his race only disturbed by the titles that come with it

  2. joei5 said

    Hey Ryan,
    This piece was really interesting and it’s so sad how poorly people of a different race were treated. The cookie really was a great reference by the way!

    Anyway, your second paragraph– where you were unsure about how Fanon related African American’s to Jews.. I thought I understood that a little, so let me try to explain what I got from it. Basically I think that Fanon just used another race that is treated just as bad and because Jews were also looked down upon, he wanted to show the reader that there isn’t just hatred and prejudice against one race.. if someone is talking bad about one specific race, such as Jews, they’re talking about African American’s as well (which is on page 122). If someone is racist against one race, they’re racist against ALL races. I don’t know, did that even make sense?

  3. kelliem said

    Yeah, I had the same issue. He’s forming bonds with other oppressed peoples, like the workman and the Jew, as you referenced, but at the same time he’s setting himself apart. Maybe this is the paradox of healing the wound that racism creates–finding your own identity, or rather, being, as we concluded in class, while simultaneously uniting across racial lines. How does that work? But then again, if there were a simple solution to that question, we’d be on it already. I feel like what contributes to the problem is that we’re so caught up in wanting to own the particular injustices done against us, and we want to own our own oppression. No one else feels this way, just my group of people. We’re so used to being labeled and categorized and maybe if we realize that that’s not going to help us work together, then we can advance toward banishing racism along with other forms of oppression. I know, I know, I’m a hardcore idealist.

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