France's Forgotten People
Written by Epee Herve
Monday, 19 March 2007
Two years after France was set aflame by racial tensions the country has done little to address the issues of its Black community. Now France’s upcoming presidential elections, on April 22 and May 6, has various candidates competing for the Black vote while the government still struggles to acknowledge the millions of Blacks that call the country home.
A lot of promises are being made to the Black French community (many of whom are originally from Africa and the French West Indies) during France’s upcoming presidential election. For years their needs have been the same—education, employment and affordable housing closer to the city. Yet presidential candidates are divided in their approach on how to accommodate those needs or if to address the Black community at all.
Unlike Anglo-Saxon countries like the United States and England, France is unaware of exactly how many Black people live here although some estimate it to be between 5-6 million. The political community remains at odds over this lack of accountability. As long as France’s ethnic statistics are unknown, the French government can not properly devise a plan to incorporate its Black residents into society.
“We want the authorities to understand the fact that to be black in France is a social handicap and act consequently,” said Council Representative of Black Associations president Patrick Lozès in an interview with the daily newspaper Le Monde. “We want minorities represented through political authorities, legal and economic. We want Blacks seats at the government, the Parliament and the boards of directors of the companies. We want the creation of society by contractors resulting from the minorities is favoured.”
Enter France’s front running Presidential candidates: Nicolas Sarkozy of the right Union for a Popular Movement party, Ségolène Royal of the Socialist Party and the center and UDF party’s François Bayrou. What is the impact of these candidates on the Black community? Each candidate is addressing the Black community in a different way.
France's 2005 Riots