I’ll be upfront, I do not know much about fascism. With the election of Donald Trump, we saw an increase in the amount of people fighting against fascism in America. There were so many people afraid of the rise of a fascistic movement in America that they came together in an antifascist movement and were deemed “antifa”. While America has not yet become a complete fascist state, in its colonialism, imperialism, and treatment of Black people, America is well on its way. In knowing this, one would assume that Black people would be at odds with fascism.

However, while reading How Bigger Was Born, Wright talks about how Black Americans praised different fascist movements. On Page 440, Wright writes “I’ve even heard Negroes, in moments of anger and bitterness praise what Japan is doing in China, not because they believed in oppression (being objects of oppression themselves), but because they would suddenly sense how empty their lives were when looking at the dark faces of Japanese generals… I’ve even heard Negroes say that maybe Hitler and Mussolini are all right; that maybe Stalin is all right. They did not say this out of any intellectual comprehension of the forces at work in the world, but because they felt that these men ‘did things,’ a phrase which is charged with more meaning than the mere words imply””.

Wright is writing that the Black people who supported fascist movements, were doing so only because they lacked an understanding of what was actually happening in those movements and that they felt those taking part in fascist movements were doing things and not allowing things to happen to them. However, it is unfair of Wright to assume this. To say that Black people were unable to comprehend what was happening in fascist movements and only supported them is naïve or downright insulting.

Mark Christian Thompson, author of Black Fascisms, would agree. During the time period that Wright is talking about, there were Black people who believed in and supported fascism. Thompson included Richard Wright (interestingly enough), Zora Neale Hurston, Marcus Garvey, George Schuyler, and Claude McKay in the mix.

All these people were well written, well spoken, and well researched individuals of the time. Would they be considered unable to comprehend what fascism really was? To go further, Marcus Garvey is known for saying “‘We [Black people] were the first Fascists. We had disciplined men, women and children in training for the liberation of Africa. The black masses saw that in this extreme nationalism lay their only hope and readily supported it. Mussolini copied fascism from me but the Negro reactionaries sabotaged it’” (Gilroy, 2000).

Fascism is always a looming threat for Black people. However, that doesn’t exempt them from supporting fascist movements and fascist beliefs. Even today, you can see parts of fascism in conversations in Black barbershops or in the hotep movement. People can hear the painting of Black people as the one true race, the ones chosen by God, and the ones with the right to demonize other races.

It is not that Black people do not understand fascism and simply idolize the power fascists have. It is that there are Black people who believe in the tenets of fascism and would like to see Black people be fascists and rule over their oppressors, which James Baldwin sort of touches on in Everybody’s Protest Novel. On page 17, Baldwin writes “What is meant by a new society is one in which inequalities will disappear, in which vengeance will be exacted; either there will be no oppressed at all, or the oppressed and the oppressor will change places.”. James Baldwin illustrates a piece of what some Black people are thinking when it comes to freedom. It’s to either become the oppressor or seek equality for all. For many of those who seek to become the oppressor, fascism is an avenue for that.

One thought on “Fascism”

  1. This is a super interesting post, especially in light of the history of movements such as the Nation of Islam. Such a movement, to me, seems to embody some of what you describe. The Nation of Islam is highly nationalistic (a tenet of fascism) and according to many critics spreads a doctrine of Black Supremacy (racial supremacy doctrines are also central to many fascist movements). I don’t know enough about Nation of Islam to call it fascist, but these things came to my mind when I read your post.

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