Moment(s) of Truth

I’ve been on the road so much in the last few weeks that I haven’t been able to blog with much consistency, but I’ve been following the news as much as I can–in particular what’s happening in the banlieues of France.

Among my North African friends, the subject has come up many times, obviously, and their reaction has been one of growing concern. Not a single one has expressed surprise, however. This has been a long time coming. France never had a civil rights movement.

Of course, here in the U.S., the problem was often framed as one of religion. Pundits refer to “Muslim rioters,” as if their religion was the single indicator of their actions (never mind the Asian, African and, gulp, yes, white rioters who live in the same ghettos.)

When friends have asked what I make of the whole thing, I can only point to this snippet, from an article published in the New York Times when the riots started:

France has been grappling for years with growing unrest among its second- and third-generation immigrants, mostly North African Arabs, who have faced decades of high unemployment and marginalization.

And that’s the problem in a nutshell: Referring to French-born people, some of whom have been there for three generations, as “immigrants.” Could the attitude of the paper of record toward brown people in France be any clearer?


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