Stories of migration and exile: in conversation with writer Olumide Popoola

by Yasmin Gunaratnam  “Calculate is angry because all of his things were stolen in Puglia. He has nothing but his good English. He went to the police…He didn’t think. Next thing he was standing in a police station and someone wanted to fingerprint him. But you can’t get fingerprinted there. Unless you want to stay.… Read More

Theo and the distinctly sexual flavour of French racism

by Guilaine Kinouani  Content warning: contains detailed descriptions of sexual abuse On 2 February, a 22-year-old black French man named Theo was allegedly violently raped with a police truncheon, gang assaulted and racially abused by four French police officers in the Parisian suburb of Aulnay-sous-Bois. So severe were the anal injuries sustained by Theo that… Read More

The grass is always bloodier: what will it take for us to acknowledge violence against black people in Europe?

by Alexandra Wanjiku Kelbert  Content warning: detailed description of rape On Thursday 2nd February, police officers were in Aulnay-sous-Bois, on the outskirts of Paris, conducting identification checks, the sort that poor black and brown youths are all too familiar with. In the process one of the kids was brutally slapped by an officer. At that… Read More

If Muslim women’s clothing makes them consenting slaves, who are their slave masters?

by Shohana Khan Last week French Women’s Rights Minister Laurence Rossignol likened how Muslim women dress to being in collusion with slavery, roundly offending a vast number of groups. Quite an achievement. She was closely followed by the co-founder of Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Berge, who claimed that the fashion world should not get their hands… Read More

France, Terrorism and the Dual Nationality Drama

by Iman Amrani This week the French National Assembly voted to back Hollande’s proposal to strip convicted binational terrorists of their French nationality. The debate has become so divisive that two weeks ago, French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira resigned after publicly disagreeing with the President and it continues to dominate the French headlines as it looks… Read More

One Year On

by Isabel Togoh  2015 was undeniably a test of France’s resillience. January’s Charlie Hebdo massacre and the spate of attacks which followed, are well-lodged in most people’s minds. 17 people were killed including cartoonists, journalists, a policeman and woman, a janitor, and shoppers at the Hyper-Cache supermarket. Emotional wounds had barely healed before being ripped… Read More

When French Beauty Means White Beauty

by Vanessa Willoughby When we talk about French beauty, we’re often discussing a few select traits that reflect a monolithic and colourless idealization. The usual idols are brought up as universal representations of the epitome: Brigitte Bardot, Anna Karina, and Françoise Hardy to recent celebrities including Marion Cotillard and Audrey Tatou. These women represent an… Read More

Liberté, égalité, fraternité and a few ‘Nigger Heads’ please: linguistic bigotry in France

by Guilaine Kinouani My sister once recounted the following story. She was in a boulangerie in Paris (where we lived) queuing up for her pain of the day when it became the turn of the White woman in front of her to be served. There is nothing unusual to report in this scene except perhaps… Read More

France’s refusal to pay Haiti reparations is a symptom of an even wider issue

by Halimat Shode   Last Tuesday, President Hollande arrived in Haiti – the first French president to make an official visit since Haiti’s independence – and declared that France had a ‘moral debt’ to the Caribbean country. Yet his declaration avoided any mention of the debt that France has enforced on Haiti since 1825, and… Read More

Why Black people in France are still invisible

by Aude Konan “I am fed up of fraternity without equality. What’s the point of fraternity if it doesn’t work with equality. What’s the point of fraternity if it’s just a joke in poor taste. Fraternity doesn’t work if we’re not equal.” – Leonora Miano[1] A new French study has revealed that racism is on… Read More