Black Lives Matter

France has a long history of racism, police brutality and oppression against Black people.

That’s something I never wrote about because I didn’t know what to say. I’m still not sure what to say.

Growing up in France as a white kid, I always knew that Black people and minorities were treated differently. I could see my Black and Arabic friends get arrested more often. I could hear “jokes” about people’s ethnicity. I could hear stories from people struggling to get a job just because they weren’t white.

I never said anything because I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know what to do.

But I can’t remain silent while Black people all over the world are demonstrating and risking their lives just for the right to exist.

So let me make this clear: French Together is open to everyone no matter their origin or the color of their skin.

I know some people (particularly in the US) consider the Black Lives Matter movement a political issue. I disagree, it’s not a political issue, it’s a human rights issue.

As far as I’m concerned, being racist isn’t political, it’s a crime against all of humanity.

But saying that French Together is open is not enough, it’s important to also make changes.

I realize that many of the articles I published on French Together could do a much better job of highlighting the huge role Black people have played in shaping French culture and making France the country it is today.

Many of these articles will be updated in the next few weeks to rectify this. For example, I plan to feature more talented Black French speakers in articles about French books, music, podcasts, and movies.

France is a diverse and multicultural country and I know I could do a better job of showing that through the choice of images and visuals I publish on the blog. From now on, I will pay even more attention to the choice of pictures I publish on the blog.

These changes won’t happen overnight but I will work hard to make French Together a safe and inclusive French learning community for all.

I hope you will choose to join me.

Benjamin Houy

Important update: Due to a failed migration of the French Together comment system, all comments posted after 6:50 AM (Paris time) have been lost. If this includes your comment, please accept my appologies and feel free to post it again. Merci 🙂

Featured image: Maria Oswalt – Unsplash

Benjamin Houy

Benjamin Houy is a native French speaker and tea drinker with a BA degree in Applied Foreign Languages and a passion for languages. After teaching French and English in South Korea for 7 months as part of a French government program, he created French Together™ to help English speakers learn the 20% of French that truly matters. You will also find him giving blogging advice on Grow With Less.

76 thoughts on “Black Lives Matter”

  1. MERCI BENJAMIN for your thoughtful and sincere statement of support for Black Lives Matter. Anyone with intelligence and heart already knows that ALL lives matter, but right here, right now, it should also be obvious that we all need to do what we can to ensure that police and governments and all us other folks ACT like black lives matter equally. A small number of protesters were violent. But if it’s the violence that bothers people in the remarks — then they’re not really interested in the lives the movement is asking us to look at. If racism is just a fact of life — for Native Americans, Latinos, Latinas and Jews — then everyone in those groups should want to join in to lessen the racism any one of them faces. If Blue lives matter to police officers and their families then they too should join a movement that hopefully will make their lives safer and help them avoid suffering the guilt caused by taking a person’s life. If you think jokes about white people are racist… I can’t help you. You’ll have to try to come to terms with white privilege yourself. If you are poor and white, I know where you’re coming from. Your life has been hard. But the color of your skin did not make it harder, so even you have white privilege. Benjamin has had the courage to really look at his thinking and now that he knows better he bravely wants to do better. Props Benjamin. Respect. You’ve already started educating people here! (but now you have to help them evolve in French as well!!! LOL).

  2. Dear Benjamin,
    The entire human kind smiles alongside you, interconnected through our hearts and the quality of humanity. Our aim, to establish brotherhood amongst all. Your gracious efforts are of great morale to each and every sole who is willing to embrace a better world where all of us are nothing but brothers, who will always strive to lend a fair helping hand. A huge appreciation goes out to you and everyone else who think the same. The world will be moved by your thoughts and thoughtfulness at a time when humans are fighting for their rights. Bon continuation sur !!!

    Et MERCI beaucoup pour ton mail, je lis ça toujours et je pense que c’est génial

  3. Thank you Benjamin,
    For being moved to take this action now. As Oprah Winfrey loves to quote Maya Angelou as saying “When you know better, you do better.” I am glad you stopped to think about how you can do better, and decided to act. I hope you inspire others to do the same. Please know that you will face many comments and criticisms. Like with anything you just start doing, you may make mistakes or offend persons. Don’t let the fear of these things stop you form continuing to learn the most impactful actions that you can take and continuing to take action. Continue to learn what to do and what to say rather than saying nothing.
    Thank you. Thank you Thank you.

  4. Absolutely, we do tend do stick in our own little bubble. Whatever race, creed or religion (or none) we all bleed red. We are all human.

    • I really like your article, its honesty and intelligent summary of the actions that need to be taken by all of us. Thank you.
      We need lots of people like you to finally understand, that we all can make a difference to those who resemble the ‘otherness’.
      Most of all, we need to realise, unless every human being is treated as equal , there will be no real democracy, equality and peace.
      We must stand together in the fight for unjust and racist brutality.
      Most of all, our education system needs to fundamentally change. Everything starts with the thoughts and ideas we teach our children, students and teenagers. Once we teach and act with integrity and compassion, we will be a model for younger generations to do better than we ever did.

  5. Your comment is political. As an intercultural professional, who is half Native American, I have to say, “ALL LIVES MATTER.”

    Indigenous people are killed, our cultural decimated, our lands were taken. We live in poverty which is a direct result of government policies. If any group deserves reparations, it is the First Nations people. This is not only in the US but worldwide. In Asia, Australia, NZ, and even in Nordic countries and Russia (the Sami).

    Let’s not forget that LGB and Trans people are discriminated against and killed DAILY.
    Government policies and state-directed terror is an everyday experience for so many LGBT people in the majority of countries.

    Also, police brutality is also a class issue. Poor whites (some would say “white trash”) are abused by the police as well. People forget or are just ignorant of the fact that millions of Europeans came to North America as indentured servants. Basically, slavery that you could “work off.” Usually, that was not the case. Your contract could be sold and other misfortunes occur to keep the person in servitude. Women were often sex slaves under the guise of household help, etc. Even when people were able to exit the contracts, their futures were poverty most likely. This cycle continued for generations. You can see perhaps the lineage of the serf (slave) and “tenant” farmer who escaped the European feudal system only to endure the same in North America. This continued in the Industrial Age in mines and factories. The company town system which “owned” these people basically. They could never get out of debt to the employer. The descendants are the poverty-stricken people in places like the Ozarks, Appalachia, and other rural areas. These people have a shorter life expectancy, poor education, and limited prospects. Their lives matter as well.

    I have lived in seven European countries, including France. The North American experience is not comparable to the French one. Your immigrants came willingly so they should adopt the norms and mores of France.

    So often what is claimed as “racism,” is not. Chauvin in Minneapolis worked with Floyd at a Latin bar. Chauvin probably misused his role as a police office to settle a personal feud with the victim. What he did was murder, of course, but did he do it out of racism? Two of the other officers are “people of color.” Are they anti-Black?

    The situation in NY’s Central Park regarding the Jewish woman who refused to put a leash on her dog after a man, who happened to be Black, asked her to do so. Her actions were not racist at all. She would have reacted that way to ANYONE. She is a self-center, arrogant woman who does not believe rules apply to her.

    Examples abound of such cases of knee-jerk racism claims.

    Often racism directed at Whites is ok. So many comedians do it. So many comedias and others make fun of Christians but if they did so to Muslims it is called Islamaphobia. TV shows are filled with it (“Insecure” and “Ramy” are but two.) There are too many double standards. Too much emphasis on “identity politics.” Indigenous peoples have a special niche since we never invaded anyone’s land, forced our ways upon others, committed genocide.

    • I have to disagree, Karen Cooper (dog lady) knew specifically what to say. You say she would have reacted that way with a white man? No she would not. This was not the first time she had been approached about her dog. She filed a police claim solely because the bird watcher was Black. She knew exactly what to say to the police to perpetrate and exploit a racial stereotype.
      No excuses

  6. Merci, Benjamin.
    It’s very encouraging to read your thoughts on this matter. My family and I were really excited to see how many people in other countries (including France) have raised their voices in support of basic human dignity.

    My daughter asked me how to say “Black Lives Matter” en Français. I’m not quite sure. Help? 🙂

  7. Dear Sir
    I believe in equality and treat everyone as I want to be treated but America is being destroyed from within because our media and left wing anarchists are endorsing violence and death and they are using racism to shut up free speech. So yes “I do not judge people by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” We are not a racist country. We elected a black president twice. We fought a revolutionary war where more men died than any war in our history. We have some bad people because unfortunately evil exists.

    • You may not be a racist country but there is still way too much racism and I would argue that saying nothing and pretending everything is fine is racism.

      • All human lives matter, whether black, white, red or yellow. Saying “Black lives matter” is rather lopsided. “…but there is still way too much racism..” you claim. I would ask on what basis do you make this claim? How much is too much? Racism is ugly but it exists and I don’t pretend there’s no racism in our society. That’s why we have laws to punish those who discriminate against other people on the grounds of race and to protect people who are discriminated against. Taking to the streets to demand justice is one thing, burning, looting and vandalising is unacceptable.

      • You argue, correctly, Benjamin. Pretending everything is fine is gaslighting an entire race of people, worldwide. Thank you for this letter to your readers. I commend you.

      • I so agree with Benjamin. Today, I just argued with my adult son, that standing by, being busy with ones own life, making governments responsible for violent actions is no excuse for anyone. By being a passive bystander, witnessing those horrific images, getting upset, but being too busy to actually get involved will not relieve us from our responsibility to speak up. Being a bystander to crimes against humanity is a crime in itself. Democracy is never an end product, but a continues struggle for equality, accountability and a impartial justice system. Turning a blind eye on any crime is turning your back to your fellow human beings.

    • Linda, you sound like a very good and caring person. What you believe in, equality and fair treatment, is the way it should be. That is not what happens in the U.S. America is not being destroyed by the media. It is not being destroyed by left wing anarchists. America’s history of inhumanity to man began with the first white Europeans who set foot on a land already occupied by Native Americans. You must read more history, Linda. We are a country built upon racism and built on the backs of black, brown, red and yellow people. Benjamin has taken positive steps to admit the lacking in his blog and to explain what he plans to do. What I’d like you to do is watch the movie 13th on Netflix. Read and watch as many similar movies, documentaries and non fiction as you can. Read about Tulsa, Oklahoma. Read about Jim Crow. Read about the Chinese that built our country’s railroads on the west coast. And read about our criminal justice system. Barack Obama’s election did not eliminate racism. I pray you will read and learn and fight for justice with every ounce of you kind soul.

    • We fought a Revolutionary war based on freedom And immediately enslaved an entire race. We elected a Black president Only after fighting a civil war, then fighting a civil rights war. We have never lived up to the very things we put on


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