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Call it like it is

Not so long ago, I learned that racism does not apply only to colour. I grew up thinking that if you were racist that meant you didn’t like black people. Somehow, it was generally specific to blacks. I am sure someone else, due to the environment they grew up in, will have had another idea of what a racist person is. Just for the record, I am not a racist person and don’t support racist discrimination.

I like the United Nations definition of racist discrimination best:

…any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.

Source: Wikipedia.org

As pointed out on Superfrenchie, time and time again (rightly so), French are being discriminated against by racist people, generally in America. At first, I thought…hmmm…that is not right. Race is all about colour.

However, Superfrenchie drew up a good example for one’s mind by saying you can simply replace French with black, Chinese, or any other and it seems worse. All of a sudden, it becomes racist just by replacing one word for another. Why?


Those French are lazy. (Now, replace French with blacks.)
Those blacks are lazy.

Those French cheese-eating-surrender-monkeys. (Replace French with black.)
Those black cheese-eating-surrender-monkeys.

On American tv news and in American newspapers comments like these are made enough times in reference to the French that it is disturbing.

Do you really think that these same media outlets are going to air or print these types of comments if French were replaced by black? I don’t think so. It would be the start of a second Civil War. So, why are these media outlets doing it against the French? Racism discrimination is not ok no matter the “race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin” of the person being hurt by it. Whether that person is French or black or white or European or Asian or Arab or Indian or yellow or African or brown or green or German or American or well you get the point.

What do you think?

Is it racism when someone calls the French lazy or a cheese-eating-surrender-monkey?

Personally, I think some Americans have a bad case of Francophobia. I think Superfrechie.com is the perfect medicine for that. If you know or see anyone with a case of Francophobia, please, send them over to Superfrenchie.com to get a good dose of medicine.

BTW, Superfrenchie.com recently turned 1 year old. It has grown to be one of the most read French blogs in the world. The articles are well researched, well written and lots of lively discussion goes on in the comments box. If you haven’t found Superfrenchie in bloggie world, yet, you are missing out.

See my recent post Who said the French are cowards? to learn more about the brave Frenchmen who died for their country and the world.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • roland March 16, 2006, 1:31 pm

    hello Madame Pie

    the fact is that in america the jokes against black, blond , juish , trisomic and many other minoritys may lead you in front of a judge!
    So go ahead on french!!! No one will blame you….have fun it’s easy and free!
    If french were that bad and nasty they would had offer to america an Miss Liberty whit a fuck finger not a flamme made of plated whit gold !!
    However french steal love the american spirit and this beautifull land
    a bientôt roland

  • Pumpkin March 16, 2006, 2:27 pm

    Very good point, Roland. Jokes against other minorities may lead you in front of a judge…but, I have never heard of that actually happening. Honestly. Maybe, you have some examples? Not challenging you…just would like to know for myself.

    The Statue of Liberty is beautiful.  I went with my French husband to see it once and it was nice.  He, a French,  and I, an American, married with our children standing just under her.

    I do think that it is wrong to separate discrimination against French as somehow ok when it is in fact no different than any other discrimination and is just as ugly. Discrimination is discrimination. Period.

    Thank you for your comment. :)

  • kim March 16, 2006, 2:58 pm

    When we first were together, Thomas had told me that there were prejudices against the french, and I very confidently told him he was full of gunk!! We argued this point all the time, and I wholheatedly insisted that he was totally wrong, that it was just propaganda and did not exist here, I told him we adored anything french over here, french to us was exquisite!!
    My very best friend, told me that her husband (who is an officer in the US army and had just served 1 year in Iraq,) after learning that Thom was in fact french, (a real true french) not french canadiian, he stated that he was not welcome in his house, he said “NO, I just can’t”….(i’ll add once again, that this is a highly educated man, raised by very liberal parents, his wife is 1/2 panamanian and 1/2 chinese) I was in total shock and denial for about 1 year…

    It finally came to a head, when I sent him a very benign email, explaining that people are people and governments are not people, with a little note, saying ‘here’s to someday maybe having dinner alltogether’, which then sparked from him a nasty email, supposedly to alot of his friends and not directed at me, with about 30 quotes about french bashing, including one that said ‘nothing is worse than a french, than a french living in canada’ or something….and his own paragraph of ‘I vote we get rid of the french, one less language in this world is better, and he continued with they are greedy, cowards. blabla…you cannot imagine my rage…I was shaking, like I had never shook before!!

    I no longer tsk tsk thomas when he is saying there are people out there, hating the french, as I have experienced right in my own back yard.

    I still believe that it is our government, as my friends husband cannot claim ignorance, but he was for 1 year steadily controlled by our lovely gov’t…yek, it makes me sooo sick!!


  • Pumpkin March 16, 2006, 3:21 pm

    I don’t know if it was the govt that changed your friends husband or maybe he had those feelings all along. The real father of my oldest daughter told her that he didn’t like people who were not like him…French, black, etc. I think he thought my husband was black because he has dark skin (half Laosian). I was irrate. It took everything in me not to confront him but I promised Angel Girl I would not. Some members of my mothers family had a hard time with it. They said some pretty nasty things. It hurt.
    I am sorry you found out that way and lost a friend. I have lost some family over it, because I really don’t want to pretend that it doesn’t hurt me when they say the things they do.

  • kim March 16, 2006, 3:47 pm

    well luckily, I did not lose a friend, and she was appaled and irrate at her husband for even doing that..she is democrat and he is republican, so they don’t see eye to eye on a lot of things like that…there were some very strange things that he had said in regards to our gov’t that leads me and her to believe it was the culprit, as he did not have these feelings before he went, i’ll try to comment later, but i must go now..have a good night:)

  • D March 16, 2006, 3:54 pm

    I think that there is still a lot of racism that exists in many parts of the world, not just the US. Some of the French don’t like Americans and Belgians, and the British don’t like the Germans, and so on and so forth.

    Some people in America may not make comments about blacks the way they do the French, because blacks over there are still American. It’s the difference in showing hatred or a dislike for someones race, as opposed to their nationality.

    Americans are usually proud of their people and their country. So the dislike of the French is more like a pissing contest. It goes both ways. Some Americans may think the French are arrogant and unhygienic, while the French may think Americans are unintelligent and unworldly. Both comments are untrue, but due to the media and stereotypes….that is how ignorance evolves.

  • Pumpkin March 16, 2006, 4:44 pm

    I agree D. I will have to post about all the American stereotypes that I have encountered. My husbands father tells me, the American, that Americans eat hamburgers and steak all the time and no veggies. :) No matter how many times I tell him, I can see it going in one ear and out the other.
    I really haven’t had any bad experiences in France due to my nationality. But, in America, my husband and I had many people make racist comments because of my husbands nationality and because he is not “white”.

    I think in America the racism is more out in the open and here in France they keep it quiet. Just my opinion.

  • cj March 16, 2006, 5:28 pm

    I can feel a lot of frustration and hurt when I read your posts regarding this issue Pumpkin. I am so sorry that you are left with this feeling. Everytime you write cheese eating surrender monkey I start to chuckle because it sounds so nutty – but at the same time I know that term must be used. I have never heard that term used before, but I try not to surround myself with ‘bad eggs’.

    My sister in law has a website that is an internet talk show. It embarasses the hell out of me that she has that site. 1. Its not a radio show but a pod cast 2. Its the most hateful and biggoted website I’ve seen in a long time (mostly bashing Jews, Muslim’s and those they consider liberal) One of the last posts I read was about how there is no muslim outrage when horrendous acts are committed against americans by muslims. I read the post and thought that it was complete BS and wondered if they even KNEW a muslim person. Tammy cast a huge net around a verry very large population of people and said that there was no outrage. My sister in law gets her information from outlets that share her views only, and if she would look in other areas she would see that there is plenty of muslim outrage around the world for those acts.

    I think that people like my sister in law make it hard for the rest of us who get cast in a wide wide net too – being lumped in the ignorant group of people. I have never been to france, but have studied french in both high school and college. I would love to go to France one day but am afraid I never will be able to because of the wide wide net that I could be caught in. Out of all the french people I have ever known I have never come across a “bad egg” from exchange students to parents to people on the street. Maybe someday things will be different.

  • Wendy March 16, 2006, 6:13 pm

    Funnily enough – I have encountered a lot of anti-Americanism amongst my students. In fact, one class was given to me after they complained that their trainer, a Frenchwoman who lived for years in the States and is very pro-American, was pushing the US onto them and they resented it. I have learned to be very neutral in any political discussion because they can get extremely heated – even when they are too shy to voice their opinions I still keep quiet because the occasional comment shows me how deep anti-Americanism is in France.

    It’s shocking, really….these are all edcuated people and should know better.

  • buzzgirl March 16, 2006, 6:35 pm

    Well, as a black person who is also an American, I have to disagree with your assesment of anti-French sentiment as a form of racism. When I walk into a store and am followed by security, it’s not because they suspect that I may be French. The French are not immediately known to be French on sight (despite what this photo says!) There’s a difference.

    It’s true that a lot of Americans are jingoistic xenophobes – and I believe that is the source of anti-anything not immediately recognizable as “American.” It is a sad, sorry truth, but the truth no less.

  • misschrisc March 16, 2006, 6:48 pm

    I think cultural racism like you describe is perpetrated by people who have never travelled, or have travelled with the military, under someone else’s political agenda.

    When I hear these comments, and I do a lot, I just think “poor fool…never left the Lazy Boy recliner long enough to see the world for himself” That’s such a shame.

    Travel helps you see what’s really going on, doesn’t it. It really opens your eyes.

    …will check out Superfrenchie thanks for the tip

  • Pumpkin March 16, 2006, 7:20 pm

    First, Misschrisc, thank you for the big chuckle I got from your comment. That was too funny.

    Buzzgirl, I can see your point about not being able to tell a French by sight. But, while living in America after marrying my husband I for the first time experienced some pretty hateful and hurtful comments. For the first time, I saw what you and others were living all along.

    CJ, It is a topic that is heated at times for me because it is too close to home and family. I think that is why. When your family says things about your husband or French it hurts. Not to meantion that my children are Franco-American.

    Wendy, I asked my husband if he ever heard anything about Americans from a French. He tells me no. But, I have read more than once about American bashing in France…..maybe, he is not telling me the truth because I will be hurt and angry like he was in America. Perhaps I should start an anti-American bashing website ;) Now, I am curious as to what those French are saying.
    I think the French are more quiet about it….you won’t hear it on the French news. So, you will have an Ameircan like me living in France without a clue as to what the French are saying or really thinking about me. In America, things are more open and “out there” which is good and bad.

  • Pauline March 16, 2006, 7:40 pm

    Pumpkin – I do hear a lot of anti-American by French people I know, much more so since the invasion of Iraq. They are widely viewed as arrogant and having a superior attitude to the rest of the world.I am not saying that this is true but the States in general are perceived like this by a lot of people. I don’t think it has anything to do with education/social levels it’s just a general feeling. Perhaps due to ignorance and as Misschrisc says people who have seen little but their own culture/religion etc all their lives are often the worst perpetrators.

    Racsim comes in all forms though. I work in a very large US company with many nations working together: Europeans, American, Africans, South Americans every nationality, culture and religion in one big pot.

    Day to day there is not much friction (people keep to office politics, rather than the serious stuff ) but I have found that there are very few people that don’t have what could be considered a ‘racist’ attitude towards another person.

    I work directly with a gentleman from Senegal (a catholic) but a naturalised French Citizen and as far as he is concerned the worst people to work this earth are French Blacks from the Antilles ! Go figure ….

  • Pauline March 16, 2006, 7:46 pm

    What I meant is that they are both black, both French and both Catholic… I just don’t get it.

  • Pumpkin March 16, 2006, 7:51 pm

    I can understand where the anti-American comments come from. I am sorry to say it may be somewhat true though. I grew up hearing, “America is the greatest country on earth.” Americans in general are very patriotic. I think this is where it comes from and the fact that our government does what it wants and doesn’t listen to the UN for instance. I have mixed feelings on this one. Hmmmm. I think I need to post about America more. Every time I meet a French they are so interested in knowing about America. It is almost like I have a special status or I don’t know how to explain it. I am special because I am American. I feel it and don’t really see myself as special. I think the French are curious about Americans too. Luckily, I am very laid back and I think they are comfortable with me. However, how do I know what is said after I leave the playground or their house???

  • cj March 16, 2006, 8:03 pm

    I would be that would hurt tremendously…. I hope you ask them if they are aware of how they make you feel. Thats unexcusable.

  • Pumpkin Pie March 16, 2006, 8:06 pm

    I do but they just get upset and say that I only care about France or the French. It is hard to get them to understand.

  • Pauline March 16, 2006, 8:17 pm

    I think the French are more against the “US-Establisment” so to speak rather than the “individuals” Because when they meet the “individuals” , they realise that people are people !

  • Pumpkin March 16, 2006, 8:17 pm

    You know…I just don’t care anymore. I think this post and your comments helped me see that it just really only matters if I let it matter.

    To hell with all the people who can’t see a person for who that person is on the inside.

    I won’t let them bother me anymore.

    I see it is me that is giving them the power to upset me. I will not let them have it anymore.

  • Wendy March 16, 2006, 8:34 pm

    Pauline hit the nail on the head – it’s a general anti-US feeling rather than a prejudice against individuals…I doubt your friends are saying things behind your back…they know you personally and won’t tar you with a general brush.

  • Wendy March 16, 2006, 8:36 pm

    And Misschrisc was bang on too with that remark about them not having travelled – they get stuck in their beliefs without ever exploring them. Most of the people I meet you are biased, are the ones who have lived in the same village or region all their lives. The well-travlled ones are far more open minded.

  • Wendy March 16, 2006, 8:37 pm

    I meant most of the people I meet who are biased are the ones who have not travelled…:-)

  • Pumpkin March 16, 2006, 9:31 pm

    Traveling is so very important. My ideas about the world have changed so much since I first visited France.
    Before landing in France…the first time to ever enter another country…I was a little afraid. I didn’t know what to expect. After getting out into Paris I was like a kid. Everything was so exciting and new and different. Now, I travel to other countries and I don’t have that little fear when crossing the boarder. I am still excited to explore another culture and hear a new language.
    I love to travel. Too bad it costs money. Luckily, we are close to Germany and Switzerland and actually most European countries.
    Traveling is a way to see that most people are not really that different.

    The first time I met one of my husbands old co-workers, a woman, that he worked with before he moved to America to marry me, she told my husband that I was not at all like she expected. When he asked her what she expected, she told him big hair and taller. I think she had been watching too many Dallas reruns on channel 3. :)
    I am only 5 foot 4 inches tall and had short brown hair when she met me. I don’t wear alot of makeup and was pretty heavy at the time…I had just had Petite Clown three months before and was over weight when I got pregnate. So, I am sure she was surprised to see me exactly the opposite of what she imagined. She was probably thinking, “I can’t believe he went all the way to America to marry her.” I have since recovered from my bad haircut and am almost at the right weight but I am still not tall and not at all like the woman she sees on tv in the American tv shows and movies.

  • roland March 16, 2006, 10:36 pm

    french love american because it’s a teen age dream. most of french are against the GWB staff and red neck and they love all the americans with open mind.
    the problem is that the feeling today is more ” american do what is good for america,they have powerfull economy and army and don’t care about the rest of the planet.they change the rules when they want and just say we are blessed by good so fuck of if you are not happy of that”
    if your neighbor say to you ” the tree in your garden push is shadow on my apple tree so tomorow I will come and cut it .don’t say any thing I know what is good and right….my gun and my dogs are bigger than your so stay quietly in your home and everything will be allright….and if any one else doesn’t agree with me he become my enemy”
    your feeling about this neighbor will be the same that many people around the word about GWB!
    americans ( in general)lives wihtout knowing the rest of the world and they think that all the other peoples should live the same way with the same values.
    to illustrate this point of wieu I tell you a thing I seen 2 years ago
    I live near the french riviera and in an antics shop I have seen 2 americans trying to by something with dollars!
    it what really hard to make them understand that they have to change those little green bancnotes whitch mean nothing to us. They were realy choquing …it’s well known that all around the world people beg for dollars!!!
    those tourists wasn’t bad …they were only ignorant. They belived what they listen all year long “I live in the heaven on hearth…all the normal human being on this planet dream to live in america.”
    in french we use to say :
    “les voyage forme la jeunesse”
    Travel young men and your mind will be open..and when you get back you will see you home with new eyes!
    That’s why I’m interest in all the blog of expat . they make me see my country with “un regard neuf”
    merci a tous see you

  • Pumpkin March 16, 2006, 10:47 pm

    I totally agree with your statement about seeing your country with “un regard neuf” by looking through the eyes of someone that is not from your country. When my husband first moved to America he saw things I never saw. When we traveled through Kentucky he could not believe how “wild” it was. I laughed at him…I never thought of Kentucky as wild before. Once he explained why he saw it that way…all the trees left to grow as they wished…no cutting or cleaning out of those forests…and miles between the cities. I have many more memories of his thoughts and unAmerican eye view that he shared with me…the good and the bad. It was fun. Now I do the same for him with France.

  • Thomas March 16, 2006, 11:30 pm

    My opinion on that, and I guess you can call it anti-american… is that I, as a french, am sometime irritated to see the US governement trying to impose their views on us…what we have to eat, how we have to eat, how we have to make our food, what we can listen to, what we can watch, where and when we have to go to war, what we can buy and so on… It may be a restrictive view of the problem, but to me, my anti americanism comes from a resistance against a culture that someone is trying to impose on me… I am french, proud to be french, and dont want to do like american, or at least dont want someoen to force me to do something. I (and I am sure it is the case of a lot of french) dont want to say, sir yes sir, when the uncle sam is saying something that I dont agree with.

    About the french bashing… i dont know what to say, except that I would love an american to define what a french is… a true french…cause as a matter of fact we come from spain, italy, germany, england, poland…all across europe..and more recently from all across the world…

  • Pumpkin Pie March 17, 2006, 8:57 am

    You hit it on the nail at the end of your comment for my husband who is French but not born in France and his parents (French also) are originally from two separate nationalities as well. I had people tell me in my family that he wasn’t even French because he wasn’t born in France. He has lived in France since he was 4. He knows only France as his country.

    The thing about France that I don’t understand and it makes me upset…is all the American tv. Even if it they are dubbed the American culture is there all day long 7 days a week on French tv. Even Loreal commercial are original in English and dubbed. I know it is because it is economic for Loreal but there are so many example of the American influence or English language influence that the French could fight more. I don’t see them fighting it. Just an earily observation that I shared with my husband when we moved here. I was surprised to see so much of home in France.

    I completely understand what you are saying about the American govt and the war but I don’t think the American govt tell French what to eat or buy that is up to them. And, I see lots of American brand clothes (Levis as an ex) being sold in Strasbourg at outragous prices that an American would never pay for a pair of Levis (90-100 Euros).

  • Thomas March 17, 2006, 4:27 pm

    About what to eat and so on… France for 10 years is fighting against genetically modified food, but we got condemn by the WTO after a complain from USA… so now even if the population has clearly stated we dont want GMF, we do have to accept them on how market, beef with hormons, I remember a french minister saying “we have been condemn, so we will pay the fine, but never a beef with hormons will enter France”, USA are still attacking us at the WTO, the banana war, or how we are forced to buy chiquita bananas (ask both the republican and democrat party how much money they received from the boss of chiquita) instead of bananas from our former colonies… do you want me to continue?…I still have plenty of concrete example going from airbus/boeing, to Unesco convention on cultural diversity. go ask Jose Bovet what he thinks about it (even in france some people didnt get, sadly, the real reason of his fight)

    As I said, I am not closed to american culture, I just think I should be able to choose what I want, and not be imposed certain things because someone at the white house has big money in the game. I am not america’s little dog. I am sure it is harder for an american to feel or see this as well this is your culture, you are used to it. What I am saying is that the anti-americanism, at least in france is mainly reactive to what we consider an outside agression.

    After you say that we are not fighting certain things.. that’s because they are either accepted or seen as a threat… Commercial is not something big like the USA. If the final of the world cup was cut every 2 minutes to put commercial like it is during the superbowl, my god there would be a revolution (advertising is bathroom time for me, ooops did I say that). About tv programs, as I said, it all depends on what will be impose on us and not.

  • Pumpkin March 17, 2006, 8:02 pm

    I will have to read up on the issues you talked about. I was not aware of them and therefore no nothing about them. So, I am glad you pointed it out.
    I am never happy when my govt or any govt does something wrong for money.

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