« Y a bon Banania ! » De Bossuet à Nicolas Sarkozy ( + Racism in France -scene from everyday France –on a train)

Non, la France ne mérite pas son réconfortant statut autoproclamé de berceau des Droits de l’Homme. Telle est la certitude acquise dès les premières pages du Racisme français, quatre siècles de négrophobie, d’Odile Tobner (Les Arènes). Après le discours de Nicolas Sarkozy ce dimanche 20 avril aux obsèques d’Aimé Césaire, « Bakchich » propose une petite remise en perspective pas complètement inutile.

Contrairement à beaucoup d’idées reçues, souvent propagées dans l’enseignement secondaire, les cerveaux des Lumières, Montesquieu comme Voltaire ont écrit des pages d’un racisme anti-noir insoutenable.

Madame Tobner démontre avec brio que ces assertions racistes, qu’elles portent la signature d’un grand penseur du XVIII ème siècle ou d’un philosophe médiatique de la fin du XX ème, début du XXI ème siècle, comme Alain Finkelkraut sont réfutées avec le même argumentaire tautologique. Luc Ferry autre philosophe, à l’époque ministre de l’éducation nationale, volant au secours de Finkelkraut, n’y va pas par quatre chemins : « je l’ai soutenu a priori, sans avoir lu le texte concerné pour une raison simple : il est inimaginable qu’il soit raciste ». Pour Montesquieu, la défense, même si elle a pris de la patine, n’est guère convaincante : il convient de créditer d’intentions ironiques (sic) l’auteur du chapitre de L’Esprit des lois intitulé « Sur l’esclavage des nègres » (où Montesquieu entend en démontrer le le bien-fondé). Rien, évidemment, ne vient justifier l’ironie postulée…




2 Responses to “« Y a bon Banania ! » De Bossuet à Nicolas Sarkozy ( + Racism in France -scene from everyday France –on a train)”

  1. jeanwadier Says:

    Racism in France

    My sister and I were on a train from Paris to Limonges on the way to the Dordogne when our train was stopped in some random town and we were asked to disembark – something about a motorcycle being thrown off a bridge.

    We had been waiting for two hours when a new train arrived and the crowd that had been sitting on the platform in the midday heat started gathering their luggage to board. There was an African woman who, admittedly, was carrying a great deal more than her allowance. But so was I, so was my sister, and so was nearly everyone else on the train.

    When the woman tried to board, one of the conductors started to yell, “This is not acceptable. This is simply unacceptable. Why do you think you have the right to do this here?” The conductor berated the women for a full five minutes. She did not say a single word. She was so still, she looked like she had even stopped breathing. She kept her gaze firmly set on the ground and didn’t even dare to look at the tall white man in the authoritative-looking uniform. I don’t remember exactly what he said, but every sentence was a riff on the same idea: “Who do you think you are you stupid African woman?!”

    In addition to her suitcase and a backpack or handbag, the woman had a large, very flat cardboard box that was tearing at the edges and was not properly taped. It was full of fish. When the conductor realized this, he was livid. I immediately thought of traveling in a poda poda halfway across Sierra Leone with a deer or something that had been completely dismembered and that sat half on the owner’s lap, half on mine. A box of fish didn’t seem like a big deal and was hardly out of the ordinary – when put into the proper context.

    The conductor looked down at the box in contempt, then kicked it halfway across the platform. Fish went flying everywhere. The box, the fish, everything completely ruined.

    The black, African woman was clearly humiliated. The white, French man had all the power – and loved it. I don’t know if scenes like this are common in France, but what struck me most was the fact that while I was filled with rage, the woman was too nervous to even look up, and no one on the platform or in the train even batted an eyelid. It was as if we all had collectively agreed with the conductor and replied, “Yup, stupid African woman.”

    I was talking to a college friend who has been studying in Paris the last few years. She’s American by way of Trinidad and thinks about race even more than I do. Her take on France? Racism is alive and kicking, as it is in just about every country on this planet, including the United States. However, unlike in the US, in France there is almost no recognition that race is a problem, no public discussion and no debate.

    And I suppose this is what she meant when she said that racism is pervasive but also invisible. Racism in France is easy to see as an outsider, but accepted as normal and natural by everyone else. I cannot count the number of times friends and strangers in France described the negative attributes of their cleaning ladies, workers, tenants, etc., and then shrugged their soldiers and said “C’est un black” or “C’est un Polish/Serbian/African/etc.” with the “so what do you expect?” part transmitted in a deliberate pause and a knowing look.

    My boyfriend would say that Americans are no different; the difference is that in the US, no one says what they really think because they are too “politically correct,” and that it is better to be honest (i.e., like Europeans are) than to be a hypocrite. Maybe he is right, but I rather like that Americans – whatever their private thoughts or unconscious attitudes – impose limits on their public behavior that make it just a little bit easier for everyone, whether or not they are a member of the majority, to live.

    July 13, 2006 (I’m a little behind 🙂

  2. jeanwadier Says:


    Un Congolais réclame l’interdiction de «Tintin au Congo» en France

    Un comptable congolais vivant en Belgique s’apprête à porter plainte en France pour dénoncer le caractère «raciste» de l’album controversé «Tintin au Congo», dont il souhaite qu’il soit retiré de la vente.

    Aussi, cf l’émission de Marc-Olivier Fogel
    sur Europe1 le 2 septembre
    sur le même thème

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