Jane’s (White) Mask in Lee’s School Daze

In Black Skin, White Masks, Frantz Fanon addresses the appearance of blackness in black men and what it means to validate your black, male appearance.

In lieu with that the idea that seeing black males, evoked memories of violence and following, feelings of fear in white people, I believe that there would have been an effort to neutralize the impositions of fear that are placed upon one’s body. Cue in the eye candy:

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In a context of a male blackness like Fanon’s which looked up at the white gaze and said “get used to me,” we see no shyness from the appearance. Yet, in the history of the way that straight black men have chosen their female partners, there seem to lie ideals of beauty that have been filtered through an idea of whiteness that protect the Negritude they preach but also prove some idealistic image of a post-colonial black man, capable of getting a woman that is a physical representation of his capabilities (reaching whiteness) and his preferences (staying with blackness).

“…the white man, who had woven me”

 

“Mama see the Negro! I’m frightened!” Frightened! Frightened! Now they were beginning to be afraid of me I made up my mind to laugh myself to tears but laughter had become impossible”

“the [the Jew] can sometimes go unnoticed. Granted, the Jews are harassed…hunted down. The Jew is disliked from the moment he is tracked down. But in my case…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”

 

-Frantz Fanon (Black Skin, White Masks)

Although Jane’s character stands out from the rest of the women, she seems to accessorize the presence of the men. I see her like the hand piece my friend mentioned earlier. By standing out, I mean that Spike Lee shoots her in single frames, even when there are other women really close to her. However, when she is in scenes with men, she almost has to squeeze through the frame to be seen, or it is really dark so we can’t really see her face, or we only see parts of her body that either rest upon Julian’s or lay entangled within his.

 

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The point is that the scenes in which she seems to be on a pedestal are explained and justified by the scenes where she seems to be nothing more than an accessory. For example, it is easy to assume that she is on top of the Gamma phi Gamma train because she is Julian’s girlfriend. Therefore, to say that being present in the frame alone is “a perk of misogyny” is to sell the idea that occupying the same space as these men is a gift for women in itself, delivered to us because of our sex organs and nothing more.

 

 

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