"Blacks in France", an essential documentary that exposes prejudices

“Blacks in France”, an essential documentary that exposes prejudices

Narrating everyday racism as well as the hopes and triumphs of black French people of all ages, Alain Mabanco and Aurelia Berriot’s film aims to dismantle stereotypes.



We meet Mali, a 9-year-old girl who was already told “You’re black so I don’t play with you.” Kathy is a 22-year-old dancer who was told that there is no There are no hip-hop classes. When she went to the conservatory to join classical dance. Ibrahima, a teenager who was checked by the police as he simply ran. Leticia, a senior government employee is confused with her blonde assistant. Didier, a caregiver in Guadeloupe, feels the rebound of some hardened patients when he cares for them. Or Omaru, who prefers to let his white companion book a book to secure a hotel room.

Exclusion from primary school, humiliation in adolescence, discrimination at work, suspicious looks at intermarried couples … The documentary “Blacks in France” by Alain Mabanco and director Aurelia Perrio, refers to the injustice and stereotypes that black victims are victims of. France today. The camera follows unknown people for a long time, but also collects the testimonies of celebrities such as historian Bab Ndiaye, tennis player Yannick Noah, actor Jean-Pascal Zadi, Martinican journalist Karen Bast or singer of Comorian origin. For just under two hours, the film cycles back and forth between the history of racism and contemporary everyday life.

Aurelia Perrio, co-director of the documentary, stresses the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement – “Black Lives Matter” – which was born in the United States after the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American who died of suffocation under the knee of a Mayo police officer 2020. “At that time, there was a liberalization of speech and we thought it was important to collect this discourse, to try to understand it. What does being black mean in France in 2021?, She explained. We realized that whatever their stories were, they had all, at all ages, suffered the same discrimination, the same injustice, the same words, the same appearance.

Specific discrimination targeting residents abroad?

But are the prejudices and obstacles that blacks face exactly the same as when a person is of African descent or of oversea descent? Can many historical elements “To make this case of discrimination appear even more severe when it comes from the Overseas Territories”, François Durbayer, a historian at Cergy Pontoise University, believes the author in particular White France, black fury co-authored by Antilles revolution.

“Citizenship will be granted to West Indians before the majority of Africans, The historian mentions. “Have I experienced discrimination or I’m French among the French?” That’s a question that can bother a lot of people from this outer space.” The question of social status also arises: “Historically in France there is a black middle class that comes mainly from this outer space. Doctors, lawyers, writers … and that’s since the end of the nineteenth century. So this black middle class, West India for example, has a special sense of discrimination because we have the status of social can lead us to believe that we will escape all forms of discrimination.” The third point concerns the work of the public authorities, especially the colonial state, which knew how to do it “Divide and conquer”, By appointing, for example, rulers of Guyanese origin in the African colonial space.

It is therefore difficult to assess the impact of these historical differences on racial stereotypes of France in 2022. “I cannot tell you ‘the scholar so and so has masterfully studied the prejudices against the Antilles, those against the Tahitians and those against the Senegalese.’ If we were in an American university, we would have no doubt in the theses and articles and Francois Durbayer says: We cannot adequately answer these questions because it is, precisely, something that is considered illegal.”

The documentary “Blacks in France”, which airs at 9:10 pm on France 2, is already available on france.tv. The broadcast will be followed by a discussion moderated by Julien Bougier, with the participation, among others, of actress Fermin Richard and Frédéric Regin, a historian specializing in the history of slavery.

Find an interview with Aurélia Perreau, co-director of the film, by Jean-Michel Mazerolle:

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