Blacks in France rejoice over Obama


by Sunny
18th June, 2008 at 12:59 pm    

This piece in the NY Times is interesting.

Americans, who have debated race relations since the dawn of the Republic, may find it hard to grasp the degree to which race, like religion, remains a taboo topic in France. While Mr. Obama talks about running a campaign transcending race, an increasing number of French blacks are pushing for, in effect, the reverse.

Having always thought it was more racially enlightened than strife-torn America, France finds itself facing the prospect that it has actually fallen behind on that score. Incidents like the ones over the weekend bring to mind the rioting that exploded across France three years ago. Since it abolished slavery 160 years ago, the country has officially declared itself to be colorblind — but seeing Mr. Obama, a new generation of French blacks is arguing that it’s high time here for precisely the sort of frank discussions that in America have preceded the nomination of a major black candidate.

When he sat down to talk the other morning, the first two words out of his mouth were Barack Obama. “The idea behind not categorizing people by race is obviously good; we want to believe in the republican ideal,” he said. “But in reality we’re blind in France, not colorblind but information blind, and just saying people are equal doesn’t make them equal.”

He ticked off some obvious numbers: one black member representing continental France in the National Assembly among 555 members; no continental French senators out of some 300; only a handful of mayors out of some 36,000, and none from the poor Paris suburbs.

Careful! I might be promoting a supremacist racist agenda here! Sunny the communalist in action! I admit that I find American discussions on race in the media far more frank than here or in Europe. Apparently, just mentioning the word “brown” or “black” in Britain makes you a foot-soldier for the Muslim Council of Britain.


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  1. generation x and y

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  1. Ian Fidel — on 18th June, 2008 at 1:15 pm  

    Well well well what a surprise, blacks in France support Obama! because of his policies right?, oh thats right its striclty because of the colour of skin, just like Asians prefer Asian politicians simply because they are Asian, but if white people even dared do the same it would be immediatley classed as “racist” from buffoons like yourself, whites incidentally are the only group of people, the majority of them, who DONT support and want to vote for Politicians simply because of their race.

  2. soru — on 18th June, 2008 at 2:25 pm  

    If you publicly say ’8 + 9 = 16′, you have to be prepared for two different criticisms:

    A: the concept of so-called ‘addition’ is bogus, reducing things to mere numbers ir wrong, are you some kind of numero-fascist?

    B: you added it up wrong.

    If you find a lot of people are suddenly disagreeing with what you are saying, it’s worth checking whether they are making some equivalent of point ‘B’ before you go into some long rant about how stupid those who disagree with arithmetic in general are.

  3. Ravi Naik — on 18th June, 2008 at 3:18 pm  

    “Apparently, just mentioning the word “brown” or “black” in Britain makes you a foot-soldier for the Muslim Council of Britain.”

    No, it is when you combine the word “brown” to … I don’t know… “the government won’t rest until every X is put in prison”, or “it is time for X to vote Tory” that makes you a foot-soldier to communal politics.

  4. David T — on 18th June, 2008 at 4:48 pm  

    Let’s bait Sunny some more.

    Hey Sunny!! You’re the new Darcus Howe!!! How say you?

  5. BenSix — on 18th June, 2008 at 4:53 pm  

    Everybody,

    The laughs just keep not coming.

    Respectfully,

    Ben

  6. Refresh — on 18th June, 2008 at 4:56 pm  

    ‘Let’s bait Sunny some more.’

    DavidT, what gives?

    Why the sneering?

  7. Cover Drive — on 18th June, 2008 at 5:36 pm  

    This is not a black or white issue.

    A poll by The Telegraph showed Obama is popular in all five of the most important European countries (Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Russia) by 52% to 15% against John McCain in the US General Elections:
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/uselection2008/2049446/Barack-Obama-beats-John-McCain-in-European-vote-US-election-2008.html

    In Italy, that just elected a Right wing Berlusconi government, Obama support soars to 70 % !!!!!

    In Germany, Obama would get 67% of the vote (Mr McCain would receive a derisory 6%.)

    In France, 65% would back Obama (with 6% favouring McCain).

    In Britain a 49% would vote for Obama (while 14% would back Mr McCain)

    Russia, where anti-American feeling is strongest, the race is the closest with Obama rating 31%, and McCain with 24%.

    The results speak for themselves. Obama’s opposition to the Iraq war must be one of the main reasons why he leads McCain.

  8. kELvi — on 18th June, 2008 at 6:52 pm  

    Oh, so the riots in France 3 ya were about race? That’s an interesting spin, manufacture a divide where there was none and erase the divide that is for real. C’mon guys grow up. Those riots were simnply about hoodlums propelling a hard version of religious exclusion. I know you Brits think you are above it, but it is all around you, so you won’t notice it.

  9. Leon — on 18th June, 2008 at 7:10 pm  

    DavidT, what gives?

    Why the sneering?

    He’s from Harry’s Place, what do you expect?

  10. thabet — on 18th June, 2008 at 7:24 pm  

    France is a country that has been unable to face its colonial past. Why does this sort of article surprise anyone?

  11. Sunny — on 18th June, 2008 at 10:33 pm  

    or “it is time for X to vote Tory” that makes you a foot-soldier to communal politics.

    It does? So if someone says working class ppl should not vote Labour, then that is less communal than race? Why not see it as another constituency? working class ppl are as homogenous as ethnics.

  12. digitalcntrl — on 19th June, 2008 at 12:51 am  

    “Well well well what a surprise, blacks in France support Obama! because of his policies right?, oh thats right its striclty because of the colour of skin, just like Asians prefer Asian politicians simply because they are Asian, but if white people even dared do the same it would be immediatley classed as “racist” from buffoons like yourself, whites incidentally are the only group of people, the majority of them, who DONT support and want to vote for Politicians simply because of their race.”

    Maybe its because a “white” candidate is unlikely to have experienced what the have gone thru and can’t identify with the issues that face them. It is easy to be benevolent when you have all the privileges that society has to offer.

  13. digitalcntrl — on 19th June, 2008 at 12:52 am  

    “He’s from Harry’s Place, what do you expect?”

    What does this mean? Yes, I am an ignorant American.

  14. digitalcntrl — on 19th June, 2008 at 1:15 am  

    “Oh, so the riots in France 3 ya were about race? That’s an interesting spin, manufacture a divide where there was none and erase the divide that is for real. C’mon guys grow up. Those riots were simnply about hoodlums propelling a hard version of religious exclusion. I know you Brits think you are above it, but it is all around you, so you won’t notice it.”

    Reglious exclusion? Hardly, the rioters were not religious zealots nor where their demands have anything to do with religion, though religous extermists may take advantage of such frustrations.

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5026381

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5010496

  15. Ravi Naik — on 19th June, 2008 at 1:19 am  

    “So if someone says working class ppl should not vote Labour, then that is less communal than race? Why not see it as another constituency? working class ppl are as homogenous as ethnics.”

    No, they surely are not. Ethnics belong to different classes: poor, middle class, working class, and upper class. They traverse religion and ideology boundaries, and consequently have different self-interests and needs. So, ethnics are far more diverse than any individual socio-economic class, and when you conflate all this diversity into a single constituency, you are doing no more than than playing around with identity politics.

    I grant you that voting against the BNP is perhaps the only example I can think of where any non-white would be doing so on their own self-interest. But that is a glitch in our political system – all other political parties will cater the needs of different classes of “browns”.

  16. Sunny — on 19th June, 2008 at 1:38 am  

    Ethnics belong to different classes: poor, middle class, working class, and upper class. They traverse religion and ideology boundaries, and consequently have different self-interests and needs.

    But you’re being rather short sighted. Not all working class people vote along class interests… they’re also of different genders, races, religions, ideologies and all the rest. There are working class libdems and working class Tories and working class BNP supporters.

    I made that point earlier… class is no more the totality of one’s identity than race is.

    I’m trying to make race less politicised and get people to accept its simply part of an identity without getting so hung up over it every time.

    And yet, just say “brown” or Asian, and you hear all this shrieking like I’ve called for someone’s head to be cut off.

    and when you conflate all this diversity into a single constituency, you are doing no more than than playing around with identity politics.

    mate – identity politics is the heart of politics. Is Worcester woman and Modeo Man any less of a game of identity politics than Asian man?

    Tell me how.

  17. Ravi Naik — on 19th June, 2008 at 2:37 am  

    “But you’re being rather short sighted. Not all working class people vote along class interests… they’re also of different genders, races, religions, ideologies and all the rest.”

    No, no. I never said that working class is homogeneous. If you read what I said more carefully you’ll notice that I am refuting your argument that “working class ppl are as homogeneous as ethnics”. It is a fact that they do not have the same degree of diversity. Apart from the BNP, I don’t see how you can put something as huge as “brown” as one single constituency and pretend like the core would share the same self-interests.

    mate – identity politics is the heart of politics. Is Worcester woman and Modeo Man any less of a game of identity politics than Asian man? Tell me how.

    Asians are far more diverse than the typical Worcester woman. Asians in this country stem from a pool of over 1 billion people, countless languages, religions, socio-economic classes/castes. It is you who has to explain how can such diversity be reduced to one single constituency.

  18. Sunny — on 19th June, 2008 at 2:48 am  

    Apart from the BNP, I don’t see how you can put something as huge as “brown” as one single constituency and pretend like the core would share the same self-interests.

    Erm – I’m not. I never have, which is what makes me laugh about this whole debate.

    I said “brown” was as homogenous as “working class” to say that neither were homogenous at all. Both are different sorts of identities that form part of a person’s identity. You can be brown and working class, or neither.

    And sometimes your race matters more to you, especially if you’ve been discriminated against, and sometimes your class matters more, if you’re an upper class Oxford educated royal.

    When you say Asians are far more diverse than a Worcester Woman, you misunderstand my point entirely. All these groups are very varied in their interests and outlooks.

    But in certain cases and issues we can predict how they’ll behave depending on their circumstances, history, economic circumstances and other issues. That’s the whole point of voter targetting.

    Now, I’m not saying one can target all Asians as one group. But I’m saying an ethnic identity around one’s race exists. It may not be predominant for everyone or even relevant, but it does exist.

    Hell, I go Bombay Bronx every month and its 95% brown. All religions, classes etc – but brown, and driven to the place for the company and the music. I’m not saying their brownness is their only identity, I said its part of people’s identities.

    Based on that factor, you can also say that if a particular identity is under attack, or a person is singled out because of one aspect of their identity, then they might behave in other aspects of their life differently.

    For example, Muslims are very heterogenous. But if tomorrow the Tory party started blasting out an unrelenting stream of hatred against Muslims or Islam in general, I can guarantee you pretty quickly their share of the vote amongst Muslims, whatever race, gender, class, nationality or ethnic background – would dry up pretty quickly.

    Yes or no?

    That was my point in the original post.

  19. Ravi Naik — on 19th June, 2008 at 12:54 pm  

    For example, Muslims are very heterogenous. But if tomorrow the Tory party started blasting out an unrelenting stream of hatred against Muslims or Islam in general, I can guarantee you pretty quickly their share of the vote amongst Muslims, whatever race, gender, class, nationality or ethnic background – would dry up pretty quickly. Yes or no? That was my point in the original post.

    I am not contesting what you are saying. But you are talking about a rather exceptional case: the BNP, which is the only party that is against non-whites, that’s the only case where it makes sense to talk about a non-white voting bloc – the one in whose collective self-interest includes not having a racist party governing this country. This is the party that has explicitly shown their hatred against Muslims and non-whites, and we don’t really need the numbers to say their support among non-whites is virtually nil. So you don’t need to guarantee anything in your hypothetical Tory example, it is self-evident when we look at the BNP right now.

    My point is that such exception does not make it a rule. Anti-terrorist legislation is not racist, xenophobic or anti-Islamic, it is anti-civil liberties. It will affect other groups when the dynamic of what constitutes terrorism changes. When you say it is racist or anti-Islamic, that the government won’t rest until every brown is in jail, you are engaging in communal/identity politics. I would expect such statements from MCB, but not from you.

  20. Ravi Naik — on 19th June, 2008 at 1:05 pm  

    Of course, the crux of the matter is what makes a piece of legislation “racist” or anti-Islamic when it does not mention race or religion, and thus applies to everyone.

    If we justify that the anti-terrorist legislation is racist because it affects browns or Muslims in a disproportionate way, then shouldn’t we say that anti-rape and anti-pedophilia laws are sexist because they predominately target men?

  21. soru — on 19th June, 2008 at 2:20 pm  

    Colour is relevant sometimes, and sometimes it is the wrong category to use to discuss things.

    ‘stop at a red light’ is sound advice.

    ‘bend your knees and keep a straight back while picking up yellow objects’ isn’t: it gets the categories involved wrong.

    The old-fashioned French Republican approach is to attempt to declare all arguments that are based on colour to be invalid, simply not allowable. People sometimes argue that on the internet too.

    But disagreeing with them doesnt mean you have to accept every colour-based argument, otherwise you would make yourself look like an idiot every time you picked up a banana. Get the categories wrong, confuse ‘yellow’ with ‘heavy’, and you will soon argue yourself into a nonsense dead-end.

    Colour is relevant in stop-and-search, and shoot-to-kill, and similar issues where police officers make instant routine judgements based partly on appearance. It would perhaps also be relevant if there was a large-scale breakdown in law and order, a civil war with racists running internment camps. And I am sure you can come up with other examples that tie up with other aspects of the ‘brown’ identity.

    Problem is, that identity is minimally relevant when dealing with judge-reviewed detention without charge, where ‘I’m a hindu’ is pretty much an unarguable defense against an accusation of involvment in islamist terrorism.

    The arguments against 42 days apply to all British citizens, not particularly one sub-group.

  22. billericaydicky — on 19th June, 2008 at 10:31 pm  

    DavidT,

    While Sunny does get a little childish from time to time he is certainly not a latter day Darcus Howe. At least I hope he doesn’t beat the shit out of women, claim in the magazine Race Today that when black “yoot”mugged white people they were carrying out a revolutionary act and sit in his office in Shakespear Rd in Brixton snorting some of Columbia’s finest marching powder and pouring Chivas Regal down his throat all paid for by the guilt tripped protestants of the World Council of Churches.

    I think Sunny has his faults but hopefully not the foregoing!

  23. Sunny — on 20th June, 2008 at 1:15 am  

    If we justify that the anti-terrorist legislation is racist because it affects browns or Muslims in a disproportionate way, then shouldn’t we say that anti-rape and anti-pedophilia laws are sexist because they predominately target men?

    No, because in those cases the law is usually excercised properly.

    What yourself and David T don’t seem to want to appreciate is that the 42 days legislation was just a piece of positioning, rather than any serious attempt at dealing with a clear and present danger. Even the intelligence services didn’t support it.

    Which makes me think – if the govt is willing to play with the lives of people just for the sake of positioning, to this extent, and where the legislation will undoubtedly target a specific community, and that whenever they want to rally their cause they start scare-mongering about how many terrorist cases are going on – then I feel angry.

    You have absolute twats like Melanie Phillips screaming about ‘Britain sliding into Dhimmitude’ over the smallest of things, but this big attack on people’s liberties, which will affect disproportionately one community (and where innocence doesn’t matter… after all – they kept Abu Qatada in prison for 6 years and still couldn’t charge him), is basically shrugged off by the wider populace.

    Yes I’m pissed. As for my point about attacking identities, the point still stands. If enough Muslims feel that their civil liberties will be better served by Tories, then they should consider switching. Same for other ethnic minorities.

    How else do we stop them from playing us like footballs except using our vote?

    Keep in mind, I said if enough people see this legislation as an attack on their freedoms. IF they don’t, fair enough – there is no consensus amongst “brown people” or Muslims. But if enough feel that way, then the politics can change.

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