MAKING A POINT, OBAMA INVOKES A PAINFUL SLUR
Michael D. Shear, The New York Times (22.06.15)
I think it might be a good thing for Obama to pronounce the N word. Maybe I can say that because I am not American and haven’t lived with this legacy, but I sometimes doubt the fact that not saying things makes our world better. Tackling directly the issue might be a better solution.
Racism is a reality, in America, but also everywhere else. In France, discriminations take place everyday because of race but our amazing Republic makes it impossible to talk about it, because you know, French people are French and nothing else. But in our everyday life, it is easier to be a French with a typically French name than with an exotic name. Also, on your resume, it’s better if you look white than black. Why can’t we say it, when it is creating huge inequalities and discriminations in our society? Why are we turning around the subject, like fool, because “ethnicity” is a taboo word?
I agree that it is the French legacy to say that everyone is equal and, therefore, there should be no distinction made between people, may it be because of race, gender or religion. Sometimes I like the idea that I do not have to ask people “Where are you from?” just because they do not look Caucasian. But at the same time, that makes me a little flustered. It is okay for people to ask me what my origins are. I am pretty sure we can be Asian-looking and French at the same time, without having people implying “Where are you from?” I am not sure it would be a good idea to erase all cultural differences because we are different and have different backgrounds, and that should not be an issue. Avoiding the topic might make things worse.
I definitely felt that with religion. I come from a region where we have a special regional law concerning religion, the Concordat. It was signed between Napoleon and the Pope in 1801 and was not removed in two specific regions. It has several consequences, but the one I want to talk about is religion at school. In a laic country like France, teaching religion in a public school is forbidden. But where I come from, it is possible. So once a week, you have a bunch of people coming to teach you about religion. Your parents generally decide which class you take (catholic, protestant, jewish – they should definitely do something to integrate Islam in it!!! -) and they can naturally decide not to enroll you in any. For children, it is a way to see that some people believe in a religion that is different than yours and I thought that it actually fosters tolerance. I am not saying that the principle of laicity in France is bad; I do understand why people defend it, but sometimes it becomes totally ridiculous. Why is it impossible to have substitution meals in cafeterias for people who cannot eat pork or non halal/kosher meat? Isn’t it unfair, thinking that christian people can eat whatever they want?
I know I am getting further from the original article. But France is a champion when it comes to avoiding important subjects. It’s a really bad habit we have to think that not talking about issues will make them disappear. I think that Obama using the N word is a good thing. Maybe it is possible because he’s not pure white (and it would be shocking having Bush saying it!) and because he has a policy that tends to open up to those issues, but at least he did it.
Listening to: MBLAQ – Mirror