"This time it’s different." How many times, after a school or college shooting or a homicide of a black person by a white police officer, have we heard that "this time it’s different"? And each time - once the emotions have dissipated, the tension subsided - everything went back to the way it was before, facilitated by the over-the-counter sale of weapons - which would be considered weapons of war outside the United States - or by a fundamentally racist culture in the American police force.
Why would it be any different today? Stupidity (one would be tempted to use a stronger word) and ignorance are still present. You can’t change human nature by waving a magical wand. How can we, in 2020, solve a "black problem" that America has never really faced since its inception? From the treatment of Native Americans to that of Blacks, the "foundations of the House of America" have been shaky since the creation of the Republic. The contrast between the universalist principles of the Declaration of Independence, which opens with the proclamation of absolute equality between men, and the reality of the condition of Blacks - before and after the abolition of slavery - is simply too great, today as yesterday. Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States, a man of the Enlightenment, never freed his own slaves.
As a student at Harvard in the early 1970s, I witnessed "the problem". At Adams House, where I lived, there was a self-constituted "black table" where white students were not welcome. My status as a Frenchman - and General de Gaulle’s critical positions on the Vietnam war - earned me special treatment. I could occasionally join their meals and share their inner solitude.
Acknowledging the depth and the historical and cultural specificity of the problem would undoubtedly avoid gross misinterpretations. Comparing the "Yellow Vests" in France to the African-American community in the United States, as some do, is not simply a demonstration of ignorance, if not bad faith; it is an insult to the specific situation of the Black community in America, a situation that persists despite the fragile and ever-challenged wins that have been booked.
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