Professor Explores Race Through Literature

Prof. Gerard Aching, Africana and romance studies, stressed the ongoing need for racial consciousness by connecting two literary pieces, written 60 years apart, in a lecture Wednesday. Aching discussed Frantz Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks and Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me related the themes of these two works with a quote from Fanon. “Oh my body, always make me a man who questions,” Aching quoted. He commented on the strength of the apostrophe — a literary device used to address the body as an autonomous character — in calling the reader to participate in self-interrogation and “to feel with us the openness of every consciousness.”
Aching related the use of apostrophe to the topic of race, which he said Fanon described as “our deadliest abstraction.”
“What relationship with one’s body could there be if it was assigned to states of abstraction?” he asked the audience. Aching proceeded to connect the negative connotation of this abstraction to the Western oppression of Native Americans.