Sunday, November 09, 2008

Looking for the French Obama.

The election of Barrack Obama has some unexpected consequences here in Europe :
Barack Obama's victory has prompted a wave of soul-searching in France, a country proud of its egalitarian tradition but where racial minorities have yet to break through to the top ranks of politics and business.

France's self-image as a home of ethnic equality previously suffered a shock when weeks of riots shook Paris's immigrant suburbs in late 2005. With the U.S. -- often criticized in Europe for a troubled history of race relations -- electing its first black president, some French politicians are questioning their own country's prejudices.
And that's a good thing...even if the Obamania sweeping France is a bit over the top (one might call it slightly immature) and probably short-lived. It has the merit of forcing the French to face their contradiction - the like to extol the merits of recipes from abroad without doing much to concoct them "at home."
Of course, one must remember that the situation in France is very different from that of the U.S.. If about 10% of France's population has African or Arab roots, this is very recent - only in the last 30 years.
"The hierarchical structure of French politics means that there is no French Obama," says Vincent Tiberj, a researcher at the Center for Political Research at Sciences Po. France's big wave of immigration also came later than in the U.S. "In France, the drive for equality only started in the 1980s," he says.

"Looking for the French Barack Obama," was the headline of a two-part investigation recently by French newspaper Le Monde. "This morning we all want to be Americans and capture a piece of the American dream," Senegalese-born Rama Yade, French secretary of state for human rights, said in a Wednesday interview with French radio.

A sense of envy at America's electoral feat is being felt across Europe, where no nation has elevated a racial minority to its highest office.


At 14:53, Blogger On en parle said...

Effectively, even if French people born in France from African families can be members of political parties and are elected in town councils, later they are seldom if ever seen in high positions not to say as national leaders.
You had a dream and you did it. From France it’s seen as a very big step against the racial discrimination in the US and a good lesson for our “country of human rights !”


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