Marching for Black Paris

Aulnay-sous-Bois prompts diversity in unity solution
By Thomas L Blair 20 February 2017 copyright reserved

Black and Proud (Noir et Fier) motto of the new Black French yoouth
Black and Proud (Noir et Fier), new Black French youth with Picasso’s Negro Head/photo Thom Blair copyright

“Theo’s abuse” in Aulnay-sous-Bois is not the first case of colour racism in the deprived, multi-cultural Parisian suburbs. Yet, once again, marching for Black Paris signals the shortcomings of successive French presidents – Nicholas Sarkozy and Francois Holland. Senior politicians have yet to accept popular demands to be Black and French, a diversity in unity solution.

This is not the whinging of a humble minority. More like the roar of the aggrieved Black masses and their human rights and working class allies. In 2005, two teenagers were electrocuted while hiding from police sparked weeks of riots and Aulnay-sous-Bois was among the worst hit areas. Last year’ demonstrators sought justice in the death of a 24-year-old in police custody in another Parisian banlieue, or marginal suburb.

The real culprits are the “keep the scum out” policies to corral youth of colour in the suburbs and protect the city’s renaissance in the 1970s and ‘80s. Thus, the same disastrous scenario unfolds, crisis after crisis, reports Louis-Georges Tin, head of CRAN, the Representative Council for Blacks in France.

My Pillars of Change e-Book profiled Black French youth in 1990 and the solutions are still valid. The nation’s famed motto — Liberty, Equality, Fraternity is one framework for improved race relations. Another is the European Parliament’s Declaration against Racism and Xenophobia that protects people of colour and Muslim faiths.

Nevertheless, it is the state’s definition of “Frenchness” that is a cause for concern. According to social scientist Pap Ndiaye, of Senegalese/French origins, the official invisibility of French Blacks, rather than being the logical and peaceful consequence of their integration into French society, is a consequence of discriminatory processes. See Ndiaye’s ‘La condition noire: essai sur une minorité française’ ,The Black Condition. An essay of a French minority (1965).

Diversity militants and supporters see the forthcoming presidential elections as an opportunity to demand enlightened change. A chance to say “No” to total complete assimilation of Blacks,seen as state sponsored, race-based genocide. On the other hand, to shout a rousing  “Yes”, fists raised, to a policy of peaceful, cultural co-existence for all in “La belle France”.

Defining the yes view and placing it on the new president’s agenda is a task worth aiming for. The most politically advanced among Black youth, intellectuals, urban planners and community leaders can mobilise to play a positive role.

  • First, to spread the view that Being Black and French is not a crime. The mass of third and fourth generation youth seek improved equality and non-discriminatory policies.
  • Second, to support the “Noirs” (Blacks) that are emerging in ways that are hitherto unprecedented in France. A vibrant example is Le Capdiv promoting diversity in France.
  • Third, to ensure that while maintaining a unitary political culture in the public sphere, the bravest presidential candidates will promote tolerance of minority cultures in the private and communal sphere.

Two major associations have the skills and impeccable credentials to assist beleaguered Black youth and  communities.

“The time has come for an opaque reform of civil society forces of law and order said M Louis-Georges Tin, in a damning report on the institution’s shortcomings.

A demand shared by LDH: a Human Rights organisation founded in 1898 “ to observe, defend and promulgation of Rights Man within the French Republic in all spheres of public life”.

Without doubt, winning the battle for Diversity and Justice in Unity will be a major political gain for Blacks in France and Europe in the coming decades – a beacon, too, for peace and order.

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See PAGES for  Pilliers du Changement traduit de l’anglais par Valérie Kanza © Editions Blair, septembre 2007. Categorie: culture; politique.French translation of  Pillars of Change, Thomas L Blair, Editions Blair, mai 2007. Copyright ©