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French Culture – Current Events Posted by on Jun 23, 2020 in Culture, History, Vocabulary

Just as the world seemed to be maybe, ever so slightly turning the corner towards normalcy, things got decidedly complicated again with the death of George Floyd here in the US. The effects of that event (representative of many sadly similar tragic events) have echoed across the US and the world in the weeks that followed. And in the last few days, France has been addressing their own history of race relations and working to deal with the very complicated issues that they raise.

France, like the US, has seen des manifestations on both sides of the discussion particularly as it relates to les forces de l’ordre (the police).

On one side, supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement1The term, which translates in French as “les vies noires comptent”, has been adopted by demonstrators around the world in the native English have rallied around the 2016 death of Adama Traoré, a young black man who died while in police custody. Renewed demonstrations were spurred in part by similarities between the two deaths, including, according to some, the victims final words “Je n’arrive plus à respire” (I can’t breathe).

On the other side, police are responding to accusations of systemic racism (du racisme institutionnalisé ou du racisme systémique) particular since certain propos (comments) from the Interior Minister. They are pushing back against what they see as an unfair haine anti-flic (anti-police hate2flic is a slang term for the police; you could translate it in English as cop).

Did you notice the signs in the videos above? Note the similar phrasing but vastly different meaning of “Pas de justice, pas de paix. (No justice, no peace.) and Pas de police, pas de paix. (No police, no peace.)

These topics are vastly more complex than can be addressed in a single blog post. And I am not an expert on race relations, whether here in the US or in France. I certainly can’t claim to have any answers. But as someone who loves both my home country and France, I am watching events in both nations closely as people respond to the forces shaking up and possibly reshaping les relations entre les races (race relations).

If you’d like to go further, you might find this video from French Olympic figure skater Maé-Bérénice Méité of interest. Mae lives in the US and shares her thoughts on many topics on her YouTube channel. Her latest video, which she recorded in French, gives insights from a woman of color who has lived both in France and the US.

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Photo by Matheus Viana from Pexels

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About the Author: Tim Hildreth

Lise: Maybe not always. Paris has ways of making people forget. / Jerry: Paris? No, not this city. It's too real and too beautiful. It never lets you forget anything. It reaches in and opens you wide, and you stay that way. / An American in Paris

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