Jump to content


  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited


Posts posted by 5-element

  1. Ah! Somebody else who saw Crash.

    Last night on the news (TF2), an item about some small town in Alsace, where a (white) couple had adopted a brother and sister from Congo some years ago - and how the family is the subject of harassment and worse. Svastikas and  vile graffiti daubed on the house, some kids at school even tried to set fire to the 10-year old boy, etc... The locals don't have much to say, one woman shown barely able to utter the word "racism" when interviewed. The family concerned have lodged a complaint, bravely - but it is clear they are being persecuted! At least, it was considered newsworthy enough so in this particular case, something might be done. Nevertheless, it does say a lot about mentalities....

    Of course traditionally Alsace is a bastion of extreme right-wing and ultra conservative values.

    I have a French uncle who has lived in Alsace all his life, right-wing ex-army officer, devout (!) Catholic or so he believes, and from the moment his younger brother went to live in Israel (1946) and married an Israeli woman, the younger brother was as good as dead, with interdiction to ever mention his name again. This has even continued since the younger brother's death!

  2. For a study about the complexity and poignancy of race relations in general, between individuals as well as within a given individual, see  "Crash" ("Collision" in French), recent movie by Paul Haggis (of "Million-Dollar Baby" fame). I watched it again yesterday, and found it as haunting as the first time. Although it takes place in Los Angeles, the conflicting emotions and prejudices within the characters (Black, white, Mexican, Iraqi, Chinese, Thai, etc...) are universal  - if there is such a thing. Of course it's only a movie, but nevertheless...
  3. As a newcomer here, first I would like to say how impressed I am by both  tone and content of this discussion and how everyone  is so civilised and respectful of each other's points of view!

    I have hesitated before contributing the following, as it is (perhaps) essentially anecdotal, and as such not worth contemplating. And yet... when it happened I was so horrified I thought it must be a joke, or another urban myth. But no....

    In my small town, as my cat has disappeared and I was looking everywhere, the police (tongue-in-cheek?) ,   sent me to seeI a woman running some cat rescue association single-handedWhen I went to see her, she conspirationally told me how there was (yes you guessed right) a VERY black man around, who was "known" to be responsible for the disappearance of a number of cats, he would catch them, and eat them. He had been living in the nearest town, but apprently she had now seen him in "our" town, with his (equally very black) wife always walking a few paces behind him. She had known of his evil ways when he was in the next town, and apparently she had tried to denounce him to the police and the mayor, who would not do anything. I tried to get more details out of her in an attempt to demolish her story, to no avail, so I then dismissed her as being quite deranged.

    However, a little while later, another woman who was in my yoga class (local, French, respectable pillar of the community, her son being a vet, she a cat lover with many cats in her home),  told me the same story, with added details, swearing blind that she had seen it herself!!! i.e. the very same black man, who would lure cats back to his little house (in the woods?) and then eat them "like they do in his country",  skin them and sell the skin. Again I tried to challenge her, but I was so flabbergasted that I simply could not make any headway...what was so disturbing is that this woman swore blind that she had seen it with her own eyes.... and this is the end of my story, I did not hear anymore from anyone.

    Untypical? Probably, at least I should hope so.

    But it also reminds me, when I was growing up in France about 50 years ago, of the incipient and ubiquitous racism against "les Arabes": "everyone knew" how they would steal, alwayscarried a knife and would betray you and knife you in the back, and any French girl/woman who was friendly became "une fille qui va avec les Arabes", i.e. seriously tainted. There is also still the stereotyped notions of a French person from Guadeloupe or Renion or Martinique as being lazy and happy-go-lucky, if it is a woman she is an "oiseau des iles", shallow and sensuous and only interested in a good time. I could go on... 

  4. What about "Secours Populaire" and "Secours Catholique", as well as the Red Cross?

    Both Sec.Pop and Sec.Cath. organise food parcels, have special events to send some children away for one day in the year (such as in Sigean Nature Reserve, for the "Journee des Oublies" i.e. the "forgotten children". Both organisations are in fact quite similar, Secours Catholique being close to the deliberately secular Secours Populaire.

    And "Emmaus".

    And "Petits Freres des Pauvres"

    Then there is the most popular one: "Restos du Coeur" - It is a winter campaign that lasts 16 weeks, with branches in most towns and cities, where food is being distributed, either in the form of parcels or hot meals. This organisation was started by Coluche, a French comedian with a big heart, 20 years ago. He died shortly after, and would probably never could have imagined that "Restos du Coeur" would get so big, as demand and needs increase every year. There is a special branch for babies. Thousands of volunteers commit to working part-time each winter. In Herault - 34 alone, last year there were 35 centres and about 1,000 volunteers. For Christmas in the local branch where I work, there is a great effort made to provide some Christmas parcel for each child whose family is beneficiary. It is often featured as a French news item every winter.

    www.restosducoeur.org/ - if you would like to find out more. Plenty of scope for more volunteers too!

  5. A reflection of our times?

    We had the usual groups of suspects coming to our gate for Trick or Treat: "Des bonbons ou un sort!"And they all duly got their sweets and went on their way. But latish in the evening, another knock on the door, this time a lone one with a hood on, and he says: "Des bonbons ou la mort!"- I burst out laughing, especially since I had recognised him as one of our neighbours' children - (fortunately!!!)

    I did point out that "la mort" was a bit drastic and brutal as a retaliation for non-compliance, and he thanked me profusely for putting him right and then continued on his way.

  6. So what should one do about those cockshafer bugs? I always have LOADS at the bottom of my compost - they look like they could do a lot of damage to roots if they get to the vegetable patch. Are they OK, or are they really bad? What are their predators?

    I asked my French neighbour (an old farmer and keen vegetable gardener) - gallic shrug is all the answer I got.!


  • Create New...