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Hybrid Hybrid Event
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(Hybrid) After the Protests: Talking about Race in France

Tue 3 October 2023 @ 19 h 30 - 20 h 30

Hybrid Hybrid Event

French republicanism demands the fair treatment of all citizens regardless of their background. Is refusing to name race creating a more equal society, or is it taking away the tools we have to discuss the problem?

In-person registration for this event is now closed. Please register to attend online using the link above.

This past summer, France saw mass protests following the fatal police shooting of Nahel M., a 17-year-old boy from Nanterre. This movement voiced an untreated wound at the heart of French society: the question of race. 

In partnership with the Overseas Press Club, this panel brings together a diverse, international group of journalists to explore the complex landscape of race in France, the US, and UK. From the very foundation of language to the bureaucratic systems in place, these experts will examine how race is both acknowledged and erased in France, dissecting the clash between the values of republicanism and identity-based politics. We will ask: how does France’s historical commitment to universalism intersect with the complexities of addressing racial disparities? What is the status of racial justice in France, the US, and the UK? Each country bears a different social and historical relationship to racialization. How does this translate to the current political reality? Transcending borders, this conversation will foster a deeper understanding of the challenges and opportunities in discussing race in a country which, deeply committed to equality, often downplays or denies its existence.

Learn more:

Roger Cohen, Paris Bureau Chief for the New York Times, covered the funeral for Nahel M. He writes: “There was consensus in the crowd: If Nahel M., a French citizen of Algerian and Moroccan descent, had been white rather than an Arab, he would not have been killed.” Read the full article

In Washington Post op-ed “Police brutality isn’t just an American problem. It’s France’s, too”, Rokhaya Diallo remembers other victims of police violence, arguing that “institutional violence against minorities has been a hallmark of French life ever since the colonial era.” 

Angelique Chrisafis spoke on the Guardian’s podcast about a summer of “grief and fury” in France. Listen here.

The last time a team of journalists convened at the American Library with the Overseas Press Club, it was to discuss Macron’s controversial pension reform and the social unrest that followed. Rewatch the conversation.

About the speakers:

In 2023, Roger Cohen and a team of New York Times reporters were awarded a Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting and a George Polk Award in Foreign Reporting for their coverage of the war in Ukraine. Cohen is the Paris bureau chief for the New York Times, where he began working in 1990. He has also worked for the Times as bureau chief in Berlin and in the Balkans, where he covered the Bosnian war and received the Eric and Amy Burger Award from the Overseas Press Club of America. In 2021, he received the Légion d’Honneur from the French Republic for his work over four decades.

Angelique Chrisafis is the Guardian’s Paris correspondent. She has reported from France since 2006. She reported in-depth on the terrorist attacks that struck France from 2015 and has also written about social issues and politics, including the rise of the far-right vote. She has reported across Europe including in Ireland, Spain, Greece and Cyprus.

Guillaume Debré is Deputy head of news for TF1 Television, overseeing coverage in the evening newscast at France’s biggest private network, and author of several books on U.S. politics and France. See his LinkedIn profile.

Vivienne Walt is a Paris correspondent for TIME Magazine and Fortune Magazine. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, National Geographic, BusinessWeek, and more. She is governor of the Overseas Press Club of America.

Mame-Fatou NiangAssociate Professor of French and Francophone Studies Carnegie Mellon University, author of “Universalisme” said on France 24: Anybody who wants to critique, to highlight the weaknesses of the system, is now accused of being separatist. Because we’re in a country that doesn’t talk about race, about color, we’re in this weird rhetorical void.” Watch the interview.

Rokhaya Diallo is a French journalist, author, and filmmaker known for her activism in the fields of racial and sexual equality. Her work has appeared in the Guardian, Al Jazeera, the Washington Post, Slate, Libération, and ELLE Magazine among others. She has published 10 acclaimed books, including a graphic novel, and has produced five activist documentaries.

Important information: The discussion will be available both online and in person. While the conversation will happen in person (Diallo, Cohen, Chrisafis, and Walt will appear in the Reading Room), the Library will stream the conversation on Zoom for a live viewing experience. Both in-person and online attendees will be able to pose questions.

Attendance at this event constitutes permission for your photograph or video to be taken at the event and used by the American Library in Paris for marketing, promotional, pedagogical, or other purposes.

In-person registration for this event is now closed. Please register to attend online using the link above.

Evenings with an Author are free and open to the public (with a 10€ suggested donation)
thanks to the generous support of Gregory Annenberg Weingarten of GRoW @ Annenberg.


Tue 3 October 2023
19 h 30 min - 20 h 30 min
Event Categories:
(Hybrid) After the Protests: Talking about Race in France
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