"PARIS — When Youssoupha, a black rapper here, was asked the other day what was on his mind, a grin spread across his face. 'Barack Obama,' he said. 'Obama tells us everything is possible.'"This tough-appearing french guy is too naive to be believed. He reminds me of all those french girls who will lay you if you say you like Michael Jackson. The french have an image of America that's just unreal - which is why they immediately switch up and hate us if we don't try to live up to it - like we're the lap dogs of their dreams. The idea that America is a separate country - or that Americans are actual human beings - with failings, problems, and complexities, that can go far beyond their limited imaginations, doesn't even occur to them. This guy is going to be greatly disappointed because he's, obviously, not setting his hopes on something he can achieve in his own life but on what some sweet-talking con man is trying to do to us.
"A new black consciousness is emerging in France, lately hastened by, of all things, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president of the United States. An article in Le Monde a few days ago described how Mr. Obama is “stirring up high hopes” among blacks here. Even seeing the word 'noir' ('black') in a French newspaper was an occasion for surprise until recently."Yep: it's amazing to me the extent of french racism - and a basic close-mindedness - isn't accurately reported in the American media. (I mean look at that: they don't even print the word "black." How sick is that shit?) The American media makes France out to be this sophisticated cosmopolitan paradise, when, in truth, it's about as backwards as the stereotypes Americans on the coasts hold about the southern part of our country - I'd say it's even worse, actually. I've been attacked by Nazis in France; deliberately offered "niggerhead" candy, and found myself marginalized (regularly - even by my own wife, once she got back there) because of, both, my race and nationality. "Oh, he's an American," they'd say, if I'd offer a solution to some stupid problem they had, "they think they know everything." In the end, I'd just let them suffer with whatever dilemma they had, because they'd proven themselves to pig-headed to accept help when it was offered. The french are idiots.
"Meanwhile, this past weekend, 60 cars were burned and some 50 young people scuffled with police and firemen, injuring several of them, in a poor minority suburb of Vitry-le-François, in the Marne region of northeast France."That's the typical form of protest in France: they go to a parking garage or something and set all the cars on fire. It's stupid, and pointless, just like all those strikes we read about. I remember one time, taking a cross-country trip on the train to see a friend, only to have it interrupted by a strike. That added hours to the trip (and massive confusion for everyone) and on that particular night, we were in a blinding rain. It turned out that my friend was roommates with the strike's organizer, so, once we got there and got dried off, I asked him what the strike gained. "Nothing!" was his reply, "But now the owners know!" "Yea," I thought, "They know your punk asses are going to be back at work tomorrow."
"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."This is a point I've made many times on this blog: the french do everything - not in reverse - but upside-down. Whenever I hear the phrase, "France does not agree!" (like about the war) that means America's doing the right thing. The example, above, is a perfect illustration of this: the french blacks don't want to get the whites to see them as human beings, they want to rub their race - their blackness - in the faces of the whites. Anybody who thinks that's helpful is an idiot, if you ask me. The whites already see their race - it's almost all they see - so this approach (which an Obama candidacy will only accelerate) will end up being totally counter-productive, and harmful, to the very people it's supposed to help. But, like I said, you can't tell them anything.
"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."France thinks it's more enlightened about everything. Yet they've, also, fallen behind on everything. They're the most arrogant people in the world - with no reason for such arrogance: their music sucks (their entertainment, altogether, sucks) they're a third-rate power internationally, their economy sucks, they're racist, sexist, xenophobic, they're technologically behind - why, I could go on forever. I can say from experience that about the only area the french truly excel in is the speed with which their women will deliver a blow job. And - before anyone gets mad about that statement - I can assure you, I'm not the first person to admit it.
"This black consciousness is reflected not just in daily conversation, but also in a dawning culture of books and music by young French blacks like Youssoupha, a cheerful, toothy 28-year-old, who was sent here from Congo by his parents to get an education at 10, raised by an aunt who worked in a school cafeteria in a poor suburb, and told by guidance counselors that he shouldn’t be too ambitious. Instead, he earned a master’s degree from the Sorbonne."The last time I was in France, I was introduced to an African guy - a really nice, sweet, guy - who had been trying to become a citizen of France for years. They just wouldn't let him pass the test, much like they kept blacks, here, from voting by making new questions. The African guy's wife had been trying to get a driver's license for 5 years. That's the kind of shit the American media should be reporting about. Instead we get tales about wine, baguettes, and "sophistication." (God, I hate that word now that I know what it's supposed to represent. The "sophisticated" french make me want to puke.)
"Then, like many well-educated blacks in this country, he hit a brick wall. 'I found myself working in fast-food places with people who had the equivalent of a 15-year-old’s level of education,' he recalled."See, what did I tell you? (I'm reading this, for the first time, as I go along, so I'm getting it as you do:) The french can be total bastards.
"So he turned to rap, out of frustration as much as anything, finding inspiration in 'négritude,' an ideology of black pride conceived in Paris during the 1920s and 30s by Aimé Césaire (above) the French poet and politician from Martinique, and Léopold Sédar Senghor, the poet who became Senegal’s first president. Its philosophy, as Sartre once put it, was a kind of 'antiracist racism,' a celebration of shared black heritage."That's another thing to hate about France - it's a nation trapped in ideologies. They can't just "think" - everything has to broken down into a system - and those systems never work because we're human beings, not systems of thought. "Antiracist racism" - sure, that'll work. That's where they end up gloating about being black (they're french, remember) making everyone want to oppress them more.
"Négritude and Césaire are back. When Césaire died in April, at 94, his funeral in Fort-de-France, Martinique, was broadcast live on French television. The French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, and his rival Ségolène Royal both attended. Just three years ago, Mr. Sarkozy, as head of a center-right party and not yet president, supported a law (repealed after much protest) that compelled French schools to teach the 'positive' aspects of colonialism. The next year, Césaire refused to meet with him. Now here was Mr. Sarkozy flying to the former French colony (today one of the country’s overseas departments, meaning he could troll for votes) to pay tribute to the poet laureate of négritude."You try to make sense of that shit because I can't.
"That said, as a country France definitely sends out mixed messages. 'Négritude is a concept they just don’t want to hear about,' Youssoupha raps in 'Render Unto Césaire' on his latest album, 'À Chaque Frère' ('To Each Brother'). A regular short feature on French public television, 'Citoyens Visibles,' hosted by a young actress, Hafsia Herzi, celebrates French artists with foreign origins."Like I said,...
"At the same time, it’s against the rules for the government to conduct official surveys according to race. Consequently, nobody even knows for certain how many black citizens there are. Estimates vary between 3 million and 5 million out of a population of more than 61 million."All I know is a trip through the Paris subway makes you think you're in Harlem. And in every major french city, if you go two blocks from the tourist area, you'll wind up in a ghetto. It's that bad.
"'Can you imagine if French officials said, ‘Well, we’re not sure, the population of France may be 65 million, or maybe it’s 30 million’?' declared a somewhat exasperated Patrick Lozès (above) founder of Cran, a black organization devised not long ago partly to gather statistics the government won’t."The whole place is in denial - about everything.
"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.'"I like that: "information blind." Like thinking water is medicine (homeopathy). That can only be as popular as it is in France. They're a bunch of kooks.
"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."Oh, but they're so much more "enlightened" than we are. Liars. And the media is a bunch of liars, too, for not putting that true image out there more clearly, for the American people to judge these particular allies by, when they criticize us.
"To this may be added Cran’s findings that the percentage of blacks in France who hold university degrees is 55, compared with 37 percent for the general population. But the number of blacks who get stuck in the working class is 45 percent, compared with 34 percent for the national average."Yea, when I was there, even my (now ex) wife was trying to get my pay lowered (imagine that shit!) saying it was "tradition." God, when I think of the shit I put up with, with her, it can make my blood boil. The french are sick, I tell you. My ex, Karine Anne Brunck, and her family once left me, in a totally-locked house - where I couldn't even go from room-to-room or to get something to eat, for 11 hours, while they went out drinking and skiing. Why? They just forgot to return. I drank an entire gallon jug of whiskey I had and, when they got back, I was so enraged I left for the States that same night. That's french hospitality for you if you're black.
“'There’s total hypocrisy here,' Léonora Miano said. She’s a black author, 37, originally from Cameroon, whose recent novel 'Tels des Astres Éteints' ('Like Extinguished Stars') is about race relations as seen through the eyes of three black immigrants."Total hypocrisy. That's France. Go on: support it by planning your next vacation, to Paris, soon.
“'For me it was really strange when I arrived 17 years ago to find people here never used the word race,' Ms. Miano said over coffee one afternoon at Café Beaubourg. Outside, African immigrants hawked sunglasses to tourists. 'French universalism, the whole French republican ideal, proposes that if you embrace French values, the French language, French culture, then race doesn’t exist and it won’t matter if you’re black. But of course it does. So we need to have a conversation, and slowly it is coming: not a conversation about guilt or history, but about now.'”Keep dreaming, Sister. Sarkozy is one of a few people in France (that I know of) who is willing to listen to anyone but himself. Don't get me wrong: there are some very nice, open, and intelligent, people in France but, culturally and generally, the people just are just too fucking arrogant to think anyone knows anything but them. Pretty-much like Liberals in America: they just don't want to know any other way - or that anyone else wants another way - than how they see it. Go Green!
"'The Black Condition: An Essay on a French Minority' by Pap N’Diaye, a 42-year-old historian at the School for Advanced Study of the Social Sciences, is another much-talked-about new book here. 'We are witnessing a renaissance of the négritude movement,' Mr. N’Diaye declared the other day."
And that's another step in the wrong direction.
"The surge in popularity of Mr. Obama among French blacks partly stems from the hope that his rise 'will highlight our lack of diversity and put pressure on French politicians who say they favor him to open politics up more to minorities,' Mr. N’Diaye said. 'We in France are, in terms of race, where we were in terms of gender 40 years ago.'"And Obama's fall will mean what? Do you see the problem of this kind of thinking? Obama means nothing. Anyone that votes for him because he's black is a racist who cares nothing about the country because he's totally, and uniquely, unqualified. Something the New York Times hasn't said because it just ain't a good story, as they see it, when - in truth - that's the beginning of the best story this country ever wrote: how cultism almost made America go mad.
"He laid out some history: French decolonization during the 1960s pretty much pushed the original négritude movement to the back burner, at the same time that it inspired a wave of immigrants from the Caribbean to come here and fill low-ranking civil service jobs. From sub-Saharan Africa, another wave of laborers gravitated to private industry. The two populations didn’t communicate much."Ah, yes, french colonialism. Aren't they a wonderful people? Now their former slaves mostly sell trinkets on street corners, being abused by the locals for being a pest, as the whites eat their dinner of Duck L'Orange. You just gotta love 'em!
"But their children, raised here, have grown up together. 'Mutually discovered discrimination,' as Mr. N’Diaye put it, has forged a bond out of which négritude is being revived."And the American media told us all about it, right? Nope. They were too busy praising what? The "sophistication" of the french. Man, was I in for a surprise when I got there.
"The watershed event was the rioting in poor French suburbs three years ago. Among its cultural consequences: Aimé Césaire 'started to be rediscovered by young people who found in his work things germane to the current situation,' Mr. N’Diaye said."Oh boy.
"Youssoupha is one of those people. He was nursing a Coke recently at Top Kafé, a Lubavitch Tex-Mex restaurant in Créteil, just outside Paris, where he lives. Nearby, two waiters in yarmulkes sat watching Rafael Nadal play tennis on television beneath dusty framed pictures of Las Vegas and Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson. A clutch of Arab teenagers smoked outside. In modest neighborhoods like this, France can look remarkably harmonious."This is true. A lot of France's appearance is deceptive. If you're not careful, you can find yourself in the Middle East.
“'Césaire is in my lyrics, and I was upset when people misinterpreted what I wrote as anti-white because négritude is the affirmation of our common black roots,' Youssoupha said."But that's exactly the point I made about the reaction it would engender: you can't defeat racism by emphasizing race. Just ask Jeremiah Wright.
"Ms. Miano, the novelist, made a similar point. 'There is no such thing as a black ‘community’ in France — yet — partly because we have such different histories,' she said. 'An immigrant woman from Mali and another from Cameroon view the world in completely different ways. You also shouldn’t think there isn’t racism among blacks in France, between West Indians and Africans. There is. But ultimately we’re all black in the face of discrimination.'"Sigh.
"Then she smiled: 'Too bad I forgot to wear my Obama T-shirt.'”It's enough to make you scream.