Sunday, September 30, 2007

A tale of two racisms

I just came across this article from the Gulf Times. I'm sure the same material is floating around elsewhere on Internet.

You said it, brother! "Insidious racism in France..." is an excellent way of putting it.

My daughters have spent hours at school studying American slavery, Rosa Parks and the March on Washington. Laudable topics all, but the French school curriculum somehow doesn't devote much time to the current racial situation in the USA. And I do feel the USA has progressed enormously in racial equality in the past 40 years.

Has France? And, for that matter, where is the subject of "racism in France" in the school curriculum? I must have missed it while I was helping my kids recite the key dates in the American civil rights movement...

Sometimes it's time to look in your own backyard...n'est-ce pas?

5 comments:

Terina said...

its late and i don't have time to read through the article (i'll try to tomorrow night) i have to say that in my experience, there is a ton of diversity in france. i lived in five different cities, and encountered people from portugal, spain, north africa, america, kosovo, asia, all over. what i don't know is how french people actually feel about this. my personal feeling is that if you're going to live in a country, it goes a long way to learning the language. as an american, i found the french really appreciated that i could speak as well as i did, and were sometimes impressed.
i think thats why i get frustrated when so many places in the states have signs in so many languages. or when people that have lived here for years, still do not speak english. so disrespectfull. at least from where i'm sitting. my one regret from living in germany is that i never was able (small children combined with a husband with a never consistent work schedule) to take any german classes, and the only german i know is less than 25 words. so sad. i am determined to learn it at some point.

Aralena said...

Quite true. France's refusal to allow statistics based on ethnicity, creed, etc. is only enabling it to not face the harsh facts of the racism that runs strong, among the "educated" and "ignorant" alike, in Paris and le province.

I can't count the number of times I've heard people who seem otherwise intelligent make anti-semitic, racist, just plain bigoted remarks, seemingly unaware of the gravity of the stereotypes they perpetuate. I see it in the 20's-30's generation and it shocks me.

Yes, there is a great deal of ethnic diversity in France. But the minority ethnic groups are being discriminated against in a way that leads to riots (fall 2005), resentment (veil debate which has been running for over a decade), and high unemployment in high-minority ghettos.

IslandGirl4Ever2 said...

Hi, I think this is a topic very many different levels... First, I grew up in Hollyowood, California in the 70s. LA has always been very ethnically diverse... My family is very mixed racially and internationally, as well.. and as a result, I grew up with an appreciation of all cultures and races... I moved to San Diego, California for University in 1983 and ran across a lot more hidden as well as BLATANT racism there as compared with Los Angeles. San Diego at the time was NOT as racially diverse and as it developed as a city... became more racially diverse, but I found people there to be more intolereant of and secretely (more subtle) discriminatory against non-whites and immagrants! After living in France for over a year now, I have not encountered any French people who have made any comments regarding non-white races or immigrants... but I did not grow up here and I do not know the culture as well as my own.. I do feel that in many ways (outward) the U.S. has made a lot of progress in terms of where it was in the 60s and before.. But, as a teacher who worked in the public school system and especially low-income areas, I saw the effects of our "system of equality." Lots of racism, prejudice, and discrimination still exits today.. Sometimes I think the hidden stuff is just as bad as stuff that used to occur in the 60s.... My black friends have shared many personal stories of what it has been like growing up and living in America being black... and what they are faced with because of the color of their skin.. and this is 2007!! I cannot know what this is like, because my experience as a white woman is very different! But I have seen and heard some what they have experienced all around me in social settings and in the public schools and it saddens me to think that though we have "come so far" we still have SUCH A LONG WAY TO GO... I am not trying to sound pessimistic, just honest... Why is it that most American jails are filled with more blacks and Mexicans (Latinos) than white people??? It's an interesting question, if anyone knows the answer.. I know part of the answer... and it has to do with racism and prejudice! That is America.. Maybe it's the same here in France, and maybe it's like that all over the world... I cannot comment on that.. I just know that from my own personal experiences, many years as a teacher in the public school system, and someone who has a family of many different flags and colours... I do see and hear of sooo much racism that is very much alive.. sad to say! I don't know enough about the school system here to know why or why not the issue of slavery has/not been addressed as we have addressed it in the U.S. It can only be my guess that if it is in fact, not addressed here in school, maybe it is something La France wishes to keep quiet and hidden "under the rug." France is a country of many flags and colors, too... And it seems a lot more quite in terms of the way America addresses its issues of race and equality... If anyone else knows more, please let us know, because this topic has always been of great interest to me.
Thanks... Leesa

Betty C. said...

This post is definitely eliciting some long comments! Of course, the issue is complex. To sum it up, I'm not denying that there is still a lot of racism in the USA. I'm just pointing out that the French are very quick to harp on AMERICAN racism, yet somehow don't seem to realize the extent of the problem in their own country. And I think the school curriculum reflects this.

Betty C. said...

This post is definitely eliciting some long comments! Of course, the issue is complex. To sum it up, I'm not denying that there is still a lot of racism in the USA. I'm just pointing out that the French are very quick to harp on AMERICAN racism, yet somehow don't seem to realize the extent of the problem in their own country. And I think the school curriculum reflects this.