What is identity?
No. One. Knows. Or rather, there’s a hanging angry cloud over they who dare not say…American? What really instills fear in me is the notion of nationalism. Not because of what it is, but rather because of the feelings often piggy backed along with it; pride, patriotism, is us or get out, it’s this or “you can’t sit with us.” It seems that nationalism shames those not paddling along in an apple pie ridden river with the nation.
Nations are really “not natural entities” as Ashcroft, Griffiths, and Tiffin say. With the idea of a nation we are instilling the America vs you the outsider.
Cesaire, however, takes the cake with the idea of the “dishonest equation” (Cesaire 61). Because yes, religion is what first separated us, the “civilized Christians” from the “savage pagans” (Cesaire 61).
Frantz Fanon, in his essay “On National Culture” states that “The total result looked for by colonial domination was indeed to convince the natives that colonialism came to lighten their darkness. The effect consciously sought by colonialism was to drive into the natives’ heads the idea that if the settlers were to leave, they would at once fall back into barbarism, degradation, and bestiality” (Fanon 201), and while I continued to read Fanon’s essay I couldn’t help but wonder “Darkness? Says who?” Fanon makes a compelling argument in his exploration of a nationally accepted culture and the feeling of nationalism that arises thereafter. But what I fail to grasp is how a culture can uproot another and declare theirs the dominants, or rather “right” one. Which is what I understood from Fanon’s piece; the European instilled their culture onto the native world by somehow convincing the natives that they were being civilized. Well, the pursuit of power, is what I believe answers my earlier confusion. The need to have one culture be dominant over all the rest. Fanon introduces the idea of attempting to adopt a national culture by way of three phases;
Phase 1- Assimilation
Phase 2- Relearn and keep in touch with your original roots.
Phase 3- Fight for your right to hold onto your culture
It’s on phase 3 where I believe we’re currently, as a nation, stuck in, especially when one considers Trump’s Executive order in which he limits refugees into the U.S. I believe we’ve become so preoccupied in defending our nation from the foreign, the unknown, or in Fanon fashion, presumed “darkness” that we’ve forgotten that although we are united as a nation, we all still have different nationalities and backgrounds. But what is a nation? What is nationality? What is nationalism? I believe Anderson has the best answer “Nation, nationality, nationalism- all have proved notoriously difficult to define, let alone to analyze” (Anderson 3), And he’s correct. We’ve become so label obsessed that we’ve not only forgotten that we are all humans, but also that we are all part of the same nation, even if our nationalities vary. I’m taken with how Anderson defines nation “an imagines political community- and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign” (Anderson 6), once again; power.