An open letter to Trevor Noah

Dear Trevor, thank you ! You can't imagine how your latest statements on the French soccer team were necessary. I was born and raised in France, my parents were born and raised in Africa. I am French, Senegalese, Congolese. I am all 3 and proud.

I understand your point and consider this victory an African Victory too. I was in tears when I saw Paul Pogba's mother kissing the cup. Our African parents who are criticised in the media for their lack of educational skills, for once, are respected. African women's womb and fertility, who was considered not so long ago by our French president as the main reason why Africa can't grow, for once is respected.

Nonetheless Trevor, there is a reality you can not ignore. France is not America. The two countries have two different civilisation models regarding immigration. While the US will enable people to be proud of their "ethnic" background, in France, the model is "assimilation". There is no such thing as Saint Patrick holiday in France, there is no such thing as the Puerto Rican parade in France. Our parents were invited, if not forced, to forget where they came from, and so did we, if we wanted to be French and accepted as such.

And while many parents, whether they are Arabs, Asian or African, like mine, did the best they could to transmit their heritage to their children, these cultures do not have the right to exist in the public space. Everyone is supposed to look the same (you skin color, hair type...) , talk the same (if you do not have a Parisian accent, you have less possibilities to access to certain types of jobs), listen to the same music (it took almost 30 years for hip hop to become mainstream, it was considered a sub culture not so long ago), eat the same (when you want your kids to eat kosher or halal it can be difficult in certain areas of the country). The list goes on and on...

 

This is certainly the reason why some people felt offended by your first video. Being deprived the right to be French, considered French and being sent back to an African ancestry because of the color of our skin is an traumatic experience for a lot of French people who were born and raised here. An experience they are for some dealing with on a daily basis, and that we all, as French citizens of African, Arab or Asian descent have had to face a day or another in our lives.

The exemple you pointed is perfect in that matter. with our Spi France recently decided to erase the word "race" in the constitution, to point out that the republic is one and non divisible.

Nonetheless, this leads to a certain schyzophrenia, where people who were born and raised here, are French on paper but rejected socially and treated like second class citizens feel neither French, nor African. You have certainly heard that during the celebrations on the Champs Elysée, some "casseurs" came and broke storefronts. This celebration was a reflection of their soul. A way for them to express their happiness but their anger and rage at the same time.

Thank you for bringing this debate up to the world, it is important people realise at the end of the day, we are all Africans