Is France ready for a black president?

Martiniquan blogger le blog de [moi] writes about the effect Obama's victory has had on France's identity as an ethnically diverse nation.

En effet, dès le lendemain de l’élection du 44ème Président des Etats-Unis, la France s’est découverte multiculturelle ou plus précisément multiethnique. Elle a semblé se souvenir qu’il puisse y avoir des Français “de couleur” (on va se la jouer pudique) et pire parmi eux des Français Noirs ou métissés. La belle affaire !

The day after the election of the 44th President of the United States, France discovered it was multicultural or, more precisely, multiethnic.  She seemed to remember that there could be French “of color” (to put it modestly) and worse among them French Blacks or biracial French.

Non, j’exagère un peu. Ca lui arrive de temps en temps à la France de se souvenir de sa réalité. Au gré d’un événement marquant (victoire mémorable, commémoration ou mort d’un homme célèbre) par exemple. La problème c’est que ça ne dure qu’un temps et “ils” redeviennent vite des étrangers ou pire des immigrés (comprendre ici des boucs émissaires voleurs, profiteurs de tous poils, preneurs de job des “vrais Français qui se lèvent tôt”).

I'm exaggerating a bit.  France does remember its reality from time to time.  Whenever there is a major event (a memorable victory, commemoration or the death of a famous person) for example.  The problem is that doesn't last very long and “they” quickly go back to being foreigners or worse, immigrants (here understood to be scapecgoats thieves, freeloaders of every kind, taking jobs from “real French people, who wake up early”).

The question being bounced around in the media, le blog de [moi] writes, is “can Obama's amazing success story happen in the country of Human Rights?  Could France elect a Black President?”

le blog de [moi] writes that, had she been asked such a question, she would have replied “Are you kidding me?” and “without a shadow of hesitation.”

So she was surprised to read a poll in the French newspaper Le Figaro conducted the day after the election in which 61.30% of respondents said that they would be willing to vote for a black candidate.  Moreover, earlier this month, during an address at Polytechnique (France's preeminent, elite engineering school), President Nicholas Sarkozy announced a commission would be created to encourage political diversity, saying “In order to introduce more diversity, there must be a deep renewal of the political class.”

“The conversation is heading in the right direction,” le blog de [moi] writes.

Guest blogging at Alain Mabanckou's blog,  Eugene Ebode is less optimistic.  He lambasts the French attitude towards diversity, citing the falling out of grace of “diversity” political personalities Minister of Human Rights, Rama Yade (of Senegalese descent) and Minister of Justice, Rachida Dati (of Moroccan descent).

“Le refus français de poser la question raciale sur la table est une politique de l’autruche. Il faut constater, dans les tourments ressentis hier par Azouz Begag, ministre délégué à l’égalité des chances du gouvernement Villepin et les déboires de Rama Yade et de Rachida Dati d’aujourd’hui, le goût des organisations politiques françaises pour les « coups médiatiques ». Ils devraient pourtant veiller sur l’implantation locale de la diversité. Les blocages des notables, encouragés par un racisme rampant et par des préjugés entretenus, ne servent pas la cause de l’unité nationale. Le débat entre éthique et statistique opacifie aussi en France les enjeux.”

The French refusal to squarely consider the racial question is a policy of burying heads in the sand. Consider the problems of Azouz Begag, minister of the equality opportunity under the Villepin government, and the current difficulties of Rama Yade and Rachida Dati, French political organizations’ taste for media shows. They should encourage the local establishment of diversity. Obstructions by personalities, encouraged by a rampant racism and sustained prejudices, do not help the cause of national unity. Debates between ethics and statistics also muddy issues in France.
Mialy Andriamananjara contributed to this post


  • […] Voices Online – Is France Ready for a Black President? Martiniquan blogger le blog de [moi] writes about the effect Obama’s victory has had on […]

  • The world should be open to change. During these times of global crises I think the race of our leaders should be of little concern. We need strong leadership and real change. If America can change, France certainly can.

  • FroggyDew

    He he he, I wish… but behind its seemingly tolerant and open minded behaviour, France is amazingly conservative. I don’t think France is quite ready yet… Just look at how we French couldn’t even get a woman as a president, I can’t even imagine a black man… We only seem to like men who think they’re big and with a big mouth, that’s all. But maybe one day…?

  • Manus

    As long as they are ready for a Jewish one the rest is not important. However, the new black is the “Arab”.

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