Race relations have been beyond the talk of the town lately, being a Brown Boy in Paris, I do know a thing two about stereotypes and race in this place.
StereoTypes, a TV show produced by Pharrel’s I am Other channel, hit the streets of Paris with it’s host Ryan Hall to find out what the black experience is like here.
For one, as enthralling as the recent Paris Fashion Week was, it left me feeling a little “suspicious” about just how open-minded this city is(or isn’t), while meetings with modeling agencies have been far more turbulent then expected, and everyday operations such as riding the train and strolling the avenues, have left me wanting to pick my nose and pluck a few boogers at people just to see if they’d stop staring.
As much as we look at Paris as the city of lights and wow at fantasies of taking photos under the Arc de Triomphe, frustrations can sometimes boil quite rapidly as a resident. Though I’ve been trying to keep the peace and not leave this place with my pride shattered into pieces, my emotions have seemed to be peddling me into a love-hate relationship with a city that I dreamed of working in(kind of like I am with NYC).
On a touristic level, anybody, and I mean anybody, can flow through Paris, enjoy casual walks along the Seine, romantic moments at the Eiffel Tower, and learn a few French words- just for the sake of ordering your favorite meals and enjoying them just the way you like it. Though on a business & commerce level, and even though this has not fully happened to me, I definitely foresee the possibility for business operations here to turn into somebody’s worst nightmare. From the fake conversations of, “let me just hurry up and chat with this kid so he can get the hell away from me”, to the the pity stares and admiration’s of your “beauty” and talent, yet not wanting us to represent or patronize anything they have to do with. These occurrences can kindly led you into a state of confusion as well as with your head, as the LL Cool J song goes, “Sprung“.
Diving into ‘I am Others’ take on the issue:
There were quite a few prime points in this video, including the young girl who
sadly mentioned that she was part black, however did not consider herself black because she was raised in a white household(interesting). As well as the gentlemen at 2:25 who was clearly full African descent, however considered himself french because he was raised in France, and when he visited Africa they considered him French(identity issues). In addition to hearing from the multicultural varieties, they also made sure to mix in some reply form the Caucasian French (mostly starting at 6:30) who seemed to keep it more real then any other French folks I’ve come across during my time here.
Aside from the host and his ongoing comedic twists on the issue(btw I love this guy!), ‘StereoTypes Paris – French African vs. African American?’ left tons of unanswered questions and was a bit far-fetched(which trust me I’m not hating on, cause things in foreign countries never go as planned). However, more then anything this video offers an array of eye openers that I believe should definitely be privately dissected but addressed publicly.
What do you think: Will African Americans, French Africans and African descent people as a whole ever shed their stereotypes? Not only in Paris, but in the world-wide society itself? Calling all of my readers from around the world, please weigh in!