Racist. That’s a word we use to qualify someone who expresses hostility against someone else because of his race. Having now lived in France for 3 years, I couldn’t help but notice the difference in how people handle racist actions.
I’m from Mauritius, an island bubbling with different sorts of religions and cultures. You go from Chinese to Indian to African with a pinch of French and a spoonful of English. And as much as most of us wouldn’t admit, with its multicultural baggage, came the underlying shadow of racism. People from different cultures aren’t racist to one another. However, they sure aren’t shy to comment openly during family meetings, knowing all people present most likely come from the same culture. In one particular culture there is a word for mixed-race people in their language that means “half-brain shit”.
People often try to explain their refusal of mixed-race marriages with the importance of protecting one’s culture. This should normally not be seen as racism, since I suppose, the willingness to protect one’s culture can’t be assimilated to the hate of another. But I couldn’t help but notice that cultures, especially cultures coming from asia, are more hostile to a mixed marriage with a dark skinned person than with a white skinned person. My knowledge is mostly based on 18 years of living among a deeply set Asian community. And I’ve that despite the argument of wanting to protect one’s culture, many easily forsake that “seek to purity” once a fairer skin person comes into the scenario.
I’ve always been treated as a “lesser” being because I wasn’t white enough. It wasn’t bold, it wasn’t that noticeable, but it was there. In the voice tones, in the body language, in the change in expressions, in the “Oh look! She’s so beautiful and fair skinned” or the “Don’t stay too long in the sun you’ll get darker”. And the killer, on the eve of my flight to Paris, seeing the look light up in the eyes of a friend as he said “You’ll get fairer!”.
Between us, I wish she’d be more excited about my law degree instead of my skin colour.
This obsession of the fair skin has ironically creeped under mine as I flew to Paris. I was scared people would be like those in Mauritius, that it would be worse since, France is essentially seen as a “white” country. Much to my surprise, I didn’t have to deal with racism much in three years. Not racism in the Mauritian sense I suppose, thus this article.
I was so affected by the importance of my skin back at home that I was really sensitive whenever someone in France referred to me as “black”. I remember getting really angry when a friend of mine pointed out that I was “black” and to my surprise, no one reacted. Turns out, being called “black” doesn’t have the same pejorative connotation it has back in Mauritius. Here, in France, people who aren’t “white” are for, most of them, considered as “black” and I believe that it comes more from cultural ignorance than actual hatred. It took me a while to understand it but then again, it was for the sake of my social life. I often joke and tell my friends to refer me as “brown”. But when I think of it, I realise that I, myself, have given weight to the term “black” and have adopted it the way Mauritians do. I remember people cringing at that term back at home and I realised that deep down, I didn’t want to be labelled so. However, on the contrary of how it is in Mauritius, it wasn’t because I wouldn’t want to be actually black, but because it put me in the basket of the foreigners. I’m very well aware I am one, but when you start living in a society, you want to adapt to it. And you don’t want to be seen as different. And when society classifies people into two simple categories such as “black” and “white”, you tend to want to integrate yourself and not be labelled as the former.
I couldn’t escape my skin, I couldn’t escape who I was. I didn’t want to be one of those Mauritians who only hang out with Mauritians and I didn’t want to be one of those Mauritians who completely deny their origins. I was stuck. Did it really make me racist? I don’t think so, but some people would argue against that.
Now, I’m not saying that there aren’t racists in France, much like, there aren’t racists anywhere else. I’m saying, that “Racism” is a complex term. For some, it is about hating someone’s skin colour. For others, it also includes one’s religion. And additionally, in some countries, it also includes one’s culture. Fifty years ago, african american and white catholics shared the same religion, however, there was racism. Hating someone else because of his religion is religion intolerance and not racism. In the dictionary, racism, in its term itself, is the hate of someone because of his race. Today it has not only become the hate of a person’s race, but also of his culture and religion. It is perfectly understandable since there isn’t any word in English for people who hate others because of their religion or culture. And the aspects of culture and religion do have deep ties with race. However, words have power. And racism is a powerful word. If we keep using this word as an umbrella term for things outside of race, people will start labelling others using a term that is so generalised that it will lose its essence and specificity and in the end, its real meaning.
Racism is our enemy. It makes everyone, including me, feel vulnerable and prisoners of our own skin. It is this thing that puts a stamp on your forehead to show that you’re different and should be treated differently. A lot of people transfer their hate of one’s race through slightly less politically radical ways : such as the hate for immigrants, using shadow arguments such as the unstable economy or social security. Others use their hate for one’s religion : such as islamophobic people who act as if the Bible is less radical and believe that all terrorists are islamic.
But here comes my point. Hating one’s religion because of a reason other than race, doesn’t make you a racist. It makes you intolerant but not a racist. ‘Intolerance’ is not a lesser word than racist, in my opinion, it is as bad, but far from the same. Hate of one’s religion comes from a deep misunderstanding of that religion or a clear lack of knowledge of it. Racism is different. It is colour, the hate of colour, the simplification of human worth based on his colour. It is the notion of being human itself that is flawed. And this essential flaw is not as easily fixed as a misinterpretation of a religion.
As I said before, racism is our enemy. But in order to be sure of who is your enemy, you have to be sure of what makes him one.
Since the Paris terror attacks, I have noticed 8 types of behaviour on Social media:
1. The sudden human rights activists
Those who didn’t even follow closely the news in third world countries and suddenly started becoming human rights activists.
2. The muslim haters
Those who already hated muslim people and decided to call all 1.7 billion muslims in the world “terrorists”
3. The “Pray for the world” people
Those who refuse the “pray for paris” slogan, criticise those who post it, and generalise this one event implying that the Paris deaths are ‘small’ compared to everyone else’s in the world.
Note: No death is small.
4. The migrant haters
Those who decided that all migrants are terrorists.
Note: Those migrants are not on some kind of tourist trip. They are actually running from those same terrorists.
5. Those who mark themselves “safe” when they do not even live in France.
This is not some trend. It was actually made for people in a real life or death situation. People like me.
6. Those who do NOT put the French flag on their profile picture and will spend the rest of the month criticising those who did.
Note: (And post a Facebook status justifying it)
7. Those who will share the links of every existing catastrophy on earth to “prove” somehow that there are many more lives lost outside of Paris.
Note: if your actions are done to create awareness, that’s awesome. But if it is to foster hate and criticism, please don’t. There is enough hate already.
While I consider myself as not being part of any of these groups. I believe in one thing, no lives are small. Yes, there are countless of lives lost in several events in the world every day. I am not belittling them in any way. They are as horrible as the deaths in Paris. So, there is no reason to belittle those who lost their lives in Paris. There is also no reason to put the blame on every muslim for the actions of 0.05% of them. They did not deserve it. They have families, work, they worry about taxes, about what they will cook for dinner and about the safety of their children. They are people. And also, there is nothing wrong in supporting Paris. Supporting Paris does not mean you’re NOT supporting the other countries victim of such catastrophies. Instead of condemning those who support Paris, support those countries you are talking about. Do what you are criticising others for not doing. Do something positive and spray peace. That’s all we need right now. Peace. Not division.
Let me get one thing straight.
Were there millions of deaths in other countries than Paris? Yes. Did they get as much support as Paris? No. Is it right? No.
Does that make the lives of the parisians less worth it? No. Does their memory have to pay for a shit use of media? No. Do their families have to tone down their pain because other people are dying in other parts of the world? Absolutely not.
We are all human beings. Yes, it is absolutely unfair to the other countries that were attacked and didn’t have as much support as Paris. It is disgusting that the rest of the suffering humanity stays in the dark and are ignored because they are part of “those countries”.
It is however an act of hate to belittle the deaths in Paris just because in other parts of the world it is worse. Death is death. We’re all equal in death. Don’t use this tragic event to make it all about how humanity sucks, thing is, we all know that. You want things to change? Talk about those events. Do something about it. Talk! Why wait for something bad to happen to one of the “big countries” to make it about something else? If the issues in third world countries mattered to you so much you would not have waited the Paris terror attacks to talk about it. All your reaction is showing is hate. And hate is not what we need right now. Hate does not make you better than those selfish people who ignore third world issues.
What you should do is spread love and support. As much to the Parisians as to the families suffering in Syria, to the refugees, to the deaths in Lebanon, to the victims of attacks in Belgium, undernourished african children and exploited young girls under the wrath of Boko Haram.
Hate won’t bring you anywhere. Love will.
I am mauritian. I had never stepped foot out of my native country except for three years when I was a baby and my dad had a job in a foreign country. But apart from that, Mauritius had been the only country I had ever known. The beach was something ordinary, common. The scorching sun was a pain I had to deal with every day. I shivered when winter hit us with 16 degrees celsius for about two months every year. Food was abundant, family was everywhere, friends were of several cultures. If your french wasn’t perfect, noone really minded, because you could compensate with your English or your Mauritian creole. If you didn’t hear the muslim mosque call at five a.m it wasn’t normal. If there wasn’t a pilgrimage on the day of the Mahashivahatree it wasn’t normal. If people didn’t walk all the way to the Père Laval cave on the first of september it wasn’t normal.
Culture. That is our treasure.
It’s been one year since I have landed in Paris. And I have learned a few things. You can’t go out with sandals if you feel like it. Wearing three stockings, pants, three t shirts and a jacket is a MUST if you do not want to die of cold. Winter does go below 15 degrees. And snow is something people actually dislike.
Paris has grown on me. And I was able to adapt well after one year. Despite my indian appearance, people often think that I was born here. It’s the accent, they say. I got used to the metro, to the buses, to the tram, to the trains, so many transport facilities that moving around isn’t hard at all. I’ve learned that Paris harbours as much non-french natives as french natives. Here it is normal that students live in a 10 square metre ‘appartment’ for 800 euros a month, depending in which neighbourhood you live of course. The Parisian life is amazing when you’re a student, but since it is a very expensive city, you have to be smart in your way of life.
It teaches you how to grow, how to make decisions, how to get out of your problems when you get into them, how to make friends and keep them, because being alone in a city is not something you’d like to be. 1 year in Paris has taught me how to be a woman, how to handle myself. I got a job, I have my studies, I even volunteer in a hospital. I’d be lying if I said that all of this was easy to handle. I have given up so many times. I have felt depressed, alone, sad, homesick, stressed, tired, scared and weak. I had lost all of the confidence I had gained when I had just finished high school. So today I decided to strip everything I was wearing, put on something new and go out. Giving up was an option I had used and abused too many times. Giving up is okay, making it a habit isn’t. What you have to make a habit is the reflex of getting up and forcing yourself to do something about it. No one on earth is more able to do this than you. If you aren’t willing enough to change your life, no one can force you to. It starts with you. Then everything will be easy compared to the willpower you summoned to move your ass. That’s what I learned today. And that’s what I am sharing with you.
This brief article is posted to mark a break between my past posts and my new ones. A few months have passed since I stopped writing due to a series of events marking changes in my young adult life. Studies, work, change of country, I have met and encountered so many people and so many experiences I wouldn’t be able to recount them in this humble article of mine. I’ll be honest, I should be studying for my Administrative law test for tomorrow. All I wanted to say is that I pledge to write at least one article every day to mark my daily life experiences accompanied by a picture representing my mood. I’ll also have a side research project which will be either on the sociological basis or Emotional counselling. They will be a thorough research on society and all of the factors affecting the particular side of life I am studying.
It’s been two months since I’ve been living in Paris. The people are great, the metro station as depressing as ever, the Eiffel Towel shining bright like a diamond, the weather as unstable as pms-ing females and the town as multi-ethnic as my family history.
Among all the things that I would love to talk about, one thing stands higher than the others:
Here’s a little list of what I am used to hear:
“Do you have cheese in Mauritius?”
“Do you have electricity?”
“Wait, you have drinkable water?”
(When a friend forgot my last name) “Well, it’s not my fault, Miss Rikoulélé”
“Here, give me a common Mauritian name” – “Aurelie?” – “Really? No give me a real african one”
“Whoa, I love your accent”
“Not cool man, you’re saying this because she’s black.”
“Do you have famous brands’ shops?”
“Do you have crepes in Mauritius?”
“Is there TV there?”
“There must be a huge density of people for such a small space”
“We all know you love bananas and coconuts”
“Here, come, do a belly dance”
“Oh, it’s not that I don’t like your french, but “cocasse” and “quitter les affaires en haut” are things that we used to say two centuries back. But I think it’s nice!”
“Do you listen to this type of music in Mauritius?” (A Stromaé song playing)
“Here, sing me a creole song.”
“Do you have nutella there?”
“Doesn’t Mauritius belong to France?”
“Do you live only by sugarcane and pineapples?”
“Do you eat on banana leaves?”
“Do you travel only by bicycles?”
Most of these were said with a humourous undertone, and it was from friends, so there were no mean intentions. However, the mere fact that those were even said shows an underlying similar thought somewhere in their subconcious mind.
On the other side I feel obliged to clear out stereotypes on the French life.
1. Frenchies do not smell. Not those who shower anyway.
2. Not EVERYONE dresses as a fashion model.
3. They are not rude. If you’re nice to them, they won’t be rude to you.
4. I’ve been having dinner with a bunch of french students every night for two months now and I haven’t had a glimpse of snails or frogs in my plate.
5. They rant probably as much as my neighbour back in Mauritius.
6. Wine is not their main beverage.
7. They do like wearing black.
8. Most of them aren’t racist, they just like making racist jokes.
9. The only people I’ve seen wearing berets are japanese tourists.
10. Their notion of partying isn’t limited to wine, cheese and kissing. There are crazy parties where they crash the metro as well. Haven’t had the chance to do one of those though.
11. On the escalator everyone stands on the right to leave those in a hurry to climb the escalator on the left.
12. They eat their cereals with cold milk. Cold milk.
13. They have sweet and salty butter.
14. It’s perfectly normal that one day it is 6 degrees and the next day it gets to 18 degrees.
15. Young people are really active in politics, as compared to Mauritius, where we don’t give much of a f.
16. It’s perfectly normal to see homeless people distributing cards with their name and situation written on them. In French AND English s’il vous plait.
17. “Une plume” is called “stylo” and “Un plumier” is called “Trousse”. Whenever you say “plume” they think of a feather and whenever it’s “plumier” they think of a wooden box dating to five decades back.
18. They always eat cheese after dinner and never at breakfast.
19. Young people always use the expression “Trop stylé”
It’s always funny to debug all of these little stereotypes and seeing reality for what it is. I think we all see foreigners as some sort of aliens and whenever there’s ignorance, we tend to fill this void with some ideas spread by unrealistic and grotesque movies or rumours.
Ah la vie!
Funny thing when you’re different in a place where everyone’s practically the same. Actually, no, scratch that.
Funny thing when you’re different in a place where you’d think everyone’s practically the same.
You wouldn’t think of that when you think of Paris. All you see are croissants, hot guys wearing berets, adorned with crème Chantilly and a hilariously delicious accent, who seem to eat cheese every freaking night (At least, that was how I saw them, maybe). But no. What I see here, is an incredible César salad of Africans, Indians (moustache guys throwing dirty looks at me while singing Indian songs in the metro. Yikes.), Arabic people, Turkish, Greek, Italians, Swedish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Lebanese, Japanese, and everything –ese people. And last but not least, the French.
When I first arrived to my apartment, I didn’t feel homesick, because there wasn’t anything that made me feel homesick about. My point is that it was hard finding a Frenchie amongst all the migrants. I don’t see it negatively, I actually think it pretty fascinating, if not completely hilarious. Imagine going in a metro and hearing at least 5 different conversations being conducted in 5 different languages. Once I was going to drop my shopping bags when I heard two fifty-ish guys speaking Mauritian creole just behind me.
In some way I think it’s beautiful, all these colours, all this culture, all this food.
And in some other ways I think it’s hilarious, all these stereotypes, and all these racist comments nobody seems to take seriously. Except me. I guess it’s going to be long before that Mauritian sensibility to racist comments wears off.
What shocked me was how the homeless lived. They have tents. Actual plastic/polyester tents that you bring on camp, with wood underneath to keep you warm. In Mauritius the homeless uses newspaper to put on the streets to sleep.
However I somehow understand why the French aren’t too pleased with having so many migrants concentrated in such a high-valued place. They are losing their identity in some way. It reminds me of the attitude of most Mauritians (Including myself, I admit) who are not too pleased with having so many migrants. Most of us just ignore them. But then again, we do not have a massive amount of migrants either. The little we have are there mostly for doing industrial/ manual work. But imagine if they were as much as the Mauritian population, and you’re lost in a sea of strangers, your Mauritian identity isolating you. You would eventually feel it’s not your country anymore. And I think that’s what some French people are starting to feel. Of course, I am not French, so if we follow my analysis, I am criticising myself. Even if I justify myself saying I came to Paris for my studies, it wouldn’t differentiate me from the rest of the migrants. I may eventually work here, or live here, or anywhere else for that matter. And in some way, I may end up in a place that isn’t my home country. And you know what? Most of the French people I came to know never made me feel like I do not belong here. They surely (and openly) talked about our differences, sometimes shocking me, because I wasn’t used to such openness in Mauritius. But I got to realize the way they matured over the years since immigration started overwhelming their territory. Most of them see you as a person above all. Of course, not everyone is super nice. There are rude people here. But then again, there are rude people everywhere. You may be different, speak a different language, look different, but you both smile when a baby laughs at you, you both complain when the train is late, you both hold the door for the other when you need to go out. And those are the little things that show that we’re all humans.
I suppose it is fun to joke about stereotypes, but once you get to know the real people, you’ll realise that Paris is just breathtakingly real.
In a world where women can act on stages, drive (at least in most countries), vote, and somehow be respected for being an acknowledged human being, we women have managed to commit the biggest mistake one could make: do what was done to us to others.
Despite our good intention to “reinforce girl power”, we have alienated ourselves even more from men, forcing them to accept our legitimate place in society. Sure, most men still have this preconceived idea of male superiority (which, let’s be honest, is not unwelcome for their ego). But there is no such thing that justifies women forcing men into accepting another school of thought. Force is never the solution. It only nurtures a deep sentiment of anger, similar to what women were feeling when being dominated by men and which eventually led them into starting a massive revolution sprouting groups like the Suffragette movement.
Women are right to defend themselves. They are right to assume their eligibility into a modern society. But what I personally don’t get are the women who belittle men. This is what i am criticising in this article. Women who act like those they are fighting against. Sure, we haven’t reached the level of moral, physical and legal persecution men had on us, but some of us are moving towards this direction. And we need to stop it right now.
This fight to belittle men and try to dominate them is as bad as men doing the same on women. Extremists cloak this idea underneath the term ‘gender equality’. This is far from promoting equality. This is stupid and shallow. I am not a feminist. Or a male chauvinist. I defend human equality. We should look at both sides. Most women’s rage blinds them, and while they grow confident about their position in society, some of them grow overconfident and assume that they are better than men. Although i do not support the concept of superiority, i guess if we adopt this school of thought, it wouldn’t seem untrue if we said that an individual’s ‘superiority’ is based on how he treats his neighbour.
In a world where communication is easy, where liberty of expression is highly encouraged, we should all stick together and be united. Not as men and women. But as human beings. No one is better than the other. Neither men over women nor women over men.
Let’s focus on more pressing matters shall we? Like child exploitation or animal torture. Our actions should be driven by our humanity. Not by our sexual identity.
Money has crushed all aspects of principles and values that were ever put in place in our society. And although it is an over-talked issue, I have realized that nothing is being done against it. As a young adult, I just left school and got exposed to the whole universe of university application, job interviews and, as much as I hate saying this, the hypocrisy of some “Non-profit” organizations. Gone are the times where altruistic actions were rewarded by genuine gratitude. Instead, money always ends up sneaking its way in, finding an excuse or a justification for somehow overshadowing the real motivations of volunteers who started as being real goodies, but end up swimming in deep-settled greed.
Having been conditioned into respecting certain morals, preached by the ever present media and the Bibble and Babble of family members, I built a strong ethical mind about how any good action is returned by another good one. Karma as they say, or human kindness. But as I finished school, I have been attending several university fairs and conferences, going to meetings and counseling sessions, been drenched in hundreds of freshly printed and colorful pamphlets boasting about the ‘exhilarating environment’ and ‘top-notch’ education quality some university offers. However, the font size used to display the annual fees are much smaller. Not the fees, but the font. Indeed, the thing that most universities won’t point out is how a tertiary education has nearly doubled, targeting internationals to fill in their pockets, seeing us as money-makers instead of the f*cking future generation of leaders and inventors and manufacturers who need training in order to take the reigns in the near future. No, they don’t care about what we can offer but about what we can pay. You can’t pay for college? Apply for a scholarship, along with the other 100 000 something internationals who also are dead-anxious about their uncertain future. There is no logical equality. Free schooling they say, free transport, free food, but no free future. Work hard they say, you’ll be rewarded. Rewarded with stress and uncertainty and a deep feeling of unfairness is more like it.
I’m not saying all universities are evil masterminds. But they are demanding. Education shouldn’t even have to be paid for in the first place. Education is the passing of knowledge. How is one more eligible to inherit knowledge than someone else? The differential of social class or social background is invalid, illogical, and highly irrelevant.
Worst of all is the whole Mauritian mindset of ‘backing’ which falls directly into the corruption furry ball. I want to apply to a job and get accepted because of my merits, not because I am the cousin of someone’s step-daughter. This situation got so bad that i was even told, by several people, that backing is the only way to get a job or a promotion. And that I have no choice or equal alternative to it. This is ridiculous. How do you expect to maintain an up-and-running system of quality if all you do is backing up stupid lazy-tards with more family members than one could count. And how do you expect to work with qualified and trained colleagues or employees if their only talent is negotiating the extra money paid to have reached where they are. Send them to a hostage hold-up or to the Port Louis bazaar, at least their ‘negotiation’ will do some good for the society.