Race? Roots? Racism? And then what?
A week ago, I read a very interesting blog about ‘race’ and ‘roots’. And I had to comment in a very assertive way that races were not a problem in France because the race concept is not accepted by our constitution - Which is true since France is probably the only country in the world to refuse to use the word ‘race’ and/or to mention ‘ethnic groups’. Officially that is.
So no ‘race’ problem in France. So-called ‘National Identity’ problems, yes: Are you French? Were you born in France? Were your parents born in France? So we always get mixed up signals. But no official ‘race’ nor 'roots' problems. 'Race' and 'roots' are a very personal matter after all.
The policemen arrest someone because they don’t like the look of him (i.e. definitely not Caucasian). This is derisively called in France ‘facies offense’. (Completely forbidden by law but very real nevertheless, ask my son.) But who talks openly about ‘race problems’ in France except the far right voters?
Let me tell you a story.
(I have already made my point about firearms a while ago.)
This summer in a very small village in Southern France, R.G., an old man wakes up during the night. He hears strange noises at his door.
By the time he gets up, two young women have entered his house. He calls the firemen. (One wonders why but there must be a reason. Maybe the police station was too far away.)
Then he grabs his (loaded - of course) hunting gun, aims and shoots the first girl. He’s 6 ft away from her. The second one runs away and hides in another room. He goes after her and shoots again - this time right through her abdomen.
The state prosecutor declares the man has definitely not been acting in self-defense. The girls, 21 and 11 yrs old, were unarmed and never threatened him.
(The youngest girl is still in the hospital, 2 months later.)
I almost forgot to tell you they were Gypsies.
Let’s quote the trigger-happy man when he was arrested: ‘I felt I was in danger. I was afraid because you never know what may happen with this ‘blasted’ race. I am a racist. When you watch television and you see what’s going on in France, you have to become a racist. And then you have to defend yourself against them.’
‘Them’ being of course ‘the others’, ‘the ones who are or look different’, ‘the ones we are afraid of’, etc. as shown on television.
R.G. claimed that his life has been filled with dread because 300 Gypsies are living close to his home. He also added that if Gypsies start stealing, they have to understand it will be a matter of life and death. Justice from his own hand, of course.
Therefore, R.G. was jailed for attempted first-degree murders.
The magistrates in charge of the case explained their decision, referring to the seriousness of the wounds sustained by the girls and above all other facts, the constant racist statements which had obviously led to his despicable acts.
As soon as the case was known, far right activists and leaders asked for R. G.’s release. Their petitions were turned down again and again.
They were trying to make this case a self-defense case. They are still trying to, by the way. But racism was the point there, not self-defense.
Up until now, the French government has been quite determined to keep R. G. in jail. Except that it is now publicly rumored that he may well be out of jail before his trial starts. Because of what's been going on all summer long.
So, I apologize. There are 'races' in France since there are racists willing to kill young girls mainly because they are Gypsies.
How dumb and blind can I be when I write to my American blogger-fellow that the ‘race’ topic does not exist in France? Since we are so bright here and know that there is only one 'race', the 'human race'.
Since it is obvious I refuse to think about ‘race’, then I am probably acting and thinking like a hard core French nationalist denying people the right to their cultural and ethnic differences. Am I? Really?
This is really, really bad!
Wait. I have an excuse, I think.
It upsets me terribly when I read in the newspaper (despite the existing laws) that a ‘French man whose roots are Algerian (African, etc.)’, has done something bad. When no roots are mentioned, you maybe sure that the guy is French-French. Therefore no need to mention his roots. He-is-French. He has been French for generations and centuries. End of the matter.
This is probably the reason why I have become color (and religion blind) and why I have such a hard time dealing with the roots and race problem. It sucks.
Being European does not solve the problem after all.
*Good Luck, and Good Night*