Lessons From France

Posted: May 3, 2012 in beauty, racism

I hate giving disclaimers, but given that some people rarely read these days, I must. We’ve become so accustomed to 140 characters or less and status updates, that paragraphs are just a haze. Because of that, we sometimes form opinions of something within seconds of reading the intro. That’s why I’m giving this disclaimer: I am a black man and I love black women. Simple enough?

Now you’re really curious on what I have to say, aren’t you? 🙂

Who would guess that the U.S. could learn a few lessons from France? A country that is the butt of so many U.S. jokes is far more progressive than the U.S. could ever imagine. France seems to have a better grasp on race relations. They even ignore race when it comes to their census only seeing people as “French” instead of white, black, etc.  Does this mean that there is no bigotry in France?  Absolutely not.  But at least there is something that resembles unity with everyone being considered “French.”  We still choose to remain White, African-American, Asian-American, Latino, etc.  Ironically, the only places we’re really considered “Americans” are outside of the U.S. How sad is that?

Because of France’s views on race, they’re having a huge problem with the 1st “Miss Black France” pageant that’s upcoming. Now, the promoters are arguing that the pageant is a good thing. They say it’s going to shine the light on black women who lack media attention. Does having a contest force the media to cover it? If so, then I’m going to start a Common Sense Pageant (if I can find enough people to qualify).

If enough black women don’t think they’re being represented in the “Miss France” pageant, is joining a “Miss Black France” fixing anything? I have concerns with this. Representation can some times cause separation. If someone started a “Miss White France” pageant, then Al Sharpton would be on the next Concorde flight over to Paris.  Stop it.  Stop separating yourselves and sending subliminal messages that “you’re not good enough” because you are good enough.  Anyone of any race can win any beauty pageant as long as the voting is unbiased.  If you feel as if you’re not winning because of the voting, then fight to change judges, not pageants.

It’s definitely a “white man’s world,” but having a separate pageant won’t fix anything if you ask me. That’s like starting a new basketball league because the NBA won’t draft you. It’s your prerogative, but it’s still not the NBA. It’s well within the rights of of the black ladies to participate in their own competition, but I think it would be more productive to protest the Miss France competition.

I’d rather fight to desegregate than separate if I’m going to fight at all. 

Does it matter if pageants are separated by race?

  1. I agree that this is probably unnecessary to do in France given that they don't even make the distinction on the census in an attempt to unify the nation. In America however, it is a different story and I still think that "Black" events are necessary because of the overwhelming amount of racism that still exists here.

  2. Vinny C says:

    I agree. These kinds of displays tend to contribute to the racial divide. I'm not saying pretend racial differences don't exist, but I don't see the point of always drawing that separating line either.

  3. Let's face it, we're talking about a pageant where if neither the Black one nor the White one existed it wouldn't be detrimental to either race or society. But, let's talk about something that could be…HBCUs. Given the popular notion that if you work hard enough in school and get good enough grades, you can get into any school in the country, are HBCUCs still necessary?

  4. Thank, Q says:

    Yeah, but I think that it ever helps to bring people together if we're constantly separating ourselves. Either we're equal or we're not and to me, promoting these types of events are almost an admission that we're not.

  5. Thank, Q says:

    Exactly. I understand what The Green Chimp is saying, but I think creating these special events is almost like joining a minor league. I'd rather see that effort put towards protesting a national event to promote inclusion and fair play.

  6. Thank, Q says:

    That's a good point. As an HBCU grad, I'd hate to say that my school probably shouldn't exist. However, for my point of this post to be valid, I have to include it in all forms of separation. So, maybe HBCU's do cause more harm than good. Especially since they appear to be judged differently by some employers which is completely unfair.

  7. I don't like when anything is separated by race. Remember my rant on blackpeoplemeet.com? I understand the general underexposure, but segregating yourself from other races is still segregation.Sorry BET. Sorry Black History Month. I may be white, so take it with a grain of salt, but I still see this as being separate but equal. As long as the term 'separate' is still in there, it's not true equality.

  8. While I understand the logic behind this comment, I have to respectfully disagree. The reason that B.E.T. and Black History Month exists is to highlight and "prove" that we are capable of the same things that we have been shut out from in America. They are there to showcase our talents and accomplishments in an effort to have more Blacks accepted among the mainstream. There is no need for White Entertainment Television because all of the other stations outside of B.E.T. cater to the mainstream or White audience. The same can be said for Black History Month, there is no White counterpart because all of the other months are already dedicated to the history of White people. If that it were as easy as saying let's come together, but it's not and sadly I don't think it will ever be.

  9. That last line should say "I wish that it were as easy…"

  10. Thank, Q says:

    We'll have to agree to disagree on this one, D. If we keep everything to ourselves then we'll never infiltrate mainstream. I look at BET as a more successful version NFL Europe. A few people watched it, but not as many as the NFL. The Cosby Show made it. The Jeffersons made it. We just allowed ourselves to be pushed out instead of fighting to remain included. So, I think there's enough room for everyone is we fight for a spot. As for Black History Month, instead of celebrating one month a year, I'd prefer that we fight to be included in American History.

  11. Q, The Cosby Show ended in 1992, that's 20 years ago. And I think I broke my calculator trying to figure out how long it's been since The Jefferson's ended and went into syndication. Not to mention that The Jefferson's was a spin-off of a show who's main character(Archie Bunker), as dumb as they made him out to be, was a huge bigot (All In The Family). It says a lot about the progress in this country that we can only point to 2 real examples of Black shows that made it to the mainstream airwaves. I'll even do you one better and add Fresh Prince of Bel-Air to the list, but that still only makes 3 out of hundreds of shows that have aired on major networks over the years. I'd argue that without networks like B.E.T. or TV1 to showcase the talents of Black Americans in the entertainment field, a lot more of them would be out of work. What happened to the WB or UPN who attempted to show more shows centered around African-Americans? That's a real question, I don't know the answer although I can speculate.

  12. Thank, Q says:

    Well, I didn't bring up Sanford & Son, Good Times, What's Happening, That's My Momma. The list goes on. The point I was trying to make is that we were included in mainstream TV at one time. Ironically, you'll see the decline of predominantly black shows on television after B.E.T.'s birth in 1980. Black people on TV were doing just fine before B.E.T. was even created and way before it gained traction in the mid-to-late 80's.

  13. Although I have enjoyed many laughs from the shows you mentioned, I'd venture to say that the stereotypes and caricatures portrayed in those shows did far more damage than B.E.T. I would argue that the decline in mainstream shows can be attributed to the Black consciousness movement that was also birthed around 1980. With people wearing the Africa medallions, naming their kids things like Raheem, Kareem and the like, Kinte cloth, the emergence of Kwanzaa and other Afro-Centric things, Black actors in Hollywood stood up and decided not to continue the coonery and buffoonery on TV and that can be attributed to the decline of mainstream Black TV shows.

  14. Thank, Q says:

    I'm unsure of the stereotypes you're referring to on those shows. Aside from What's Happening,which featured a single parent, we're talking two-parent households of hard-working people. But, none of that represented buffoonery. Maybe the so-called "blackploitation" movies of the 70's did though. They fit every stereotype (at the time) in the black community.I do agree that the medallions and "back to our roots" type of naming did cause more separation. I still don't understand Kwanzaa.

  15. I'm talking about how not a single one of those families was affluent, everybody was struggling and could barely make a living and were for the most part uneducated. Let's look at James Evans, he couldn't keep a job. Sure, they let him blame it on the White man but later divulged that he dropped out of high school. Now, some might say that there was a lesson there for kids to stay in school, however I think that lesson was missed in that they did more to make him a role model than they did to illuminate the reason for his struggle being lack of education which I think could have easily confused a kid. While the Evans family stinking together was a good, their "meal ticket" would manifest itself as Keith, the star athlete who was slated to get a pro football contract and rescue them from the ghetto. Sound familiar? How many families do you know right now that are relying on their child's athletic ability or rap skills to rescue them from poverty? You already mentioned What's Happening, so I won't beat a dead horse. But, let's talk about Sanford and Son. We're talking about a grown ass Black man still living at home with his father and operating a junk business OUT OF THEIR HOUSE! I never really watched That's My Mama that much, but I do know that the Postman had the best job out of all of the shows that we've mentioned. I agree with you on the "blaxplotation movies", but I can't act like we didn't see it on TV as well. As a matter of fact, I didn't see any of the "blaxploitation" movies until I was older.

  16. Thank, Q says:

    The Jeffersons had money, but you're right, some of them we're poor like the Evans and Sanfords. I think they were middle class on What's Happening. I don't recall. But, Good Times did give an early preview of latching on to the athlete. They were hoping he would "save them" from poverty. However, even when Keith broke his leg, Thelma didn't dump him, so she wasn't a gold digger. Neither show ever promoted education aside from What's Happening to an extent.I'm LOL at what you're saying about Lamont. Yeah, he was grown and living with his daddy. LOL!I saw most of my "blaxploitation" movies when I was in college. They were flat-out funny most of the times, even when they weren't supposed to be. But, I would have watched an opera if Pam Grier was in it. She had my full attention.

  17. Thank, Q says:

    This sounds like a show topic in the making.

  18. LOL! It certainly does. And YES, I would watch ANYTHING with Pam Grier in it. As far as the Jeffersons goes, they were one of the 3 that we mentioned earlier who could be seen as a decent portrayal of a Black family on TV. As far as the others, as funny as they were, they didn't help to quell any stereotypes.

  19. Thank, Q says:

    All of those shows hung around for quite a few seasons. They seem to have more success back then than some shows do now (when it comes to broadcast TV stations a la NBC, ABC, etc.)

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