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 â€” but seeing Mr. Obama, a new generation of French blacks is arguing that itâ€™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,â€ he said. â€œBut in reality weâ€™re blind in France, not colorblind but information blind, and just saying people are equal doesnâ€™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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Filed in: British Identity,Culture,Race politics,The World