Tag Archives: french

Black Olympic First: Ice skating duo to make history

During this year’s winter Olympics, French ice skating duo Yannick Bonheur and Vanessa James will be the first Black duo to compete in the event.

From AFP – “It’s destiny and I’m very happy about it,” said 27-year-old Bonheur.

“There’s the grace and beauty of Vanessa and then my athleticism. And the fact that we’re both black brings a pleasing visual harmony.”

James previously competed internationally for Britain as a single’s skater. She was the 2006 British national champion and 2007 silver medallist.

The pair moved to Indianapolis in the United States in August 2009 to train with Russian coach Sergei Zaitsev.

And last December they booked their ticket to Vancouver by winning the French nationals, a victory which enabled James to receive French citizenship.

Bonheur said they were determined that their Olympic experience will lay the groundwork for future successes, after they finished seventh at Europeans.

“This is just the beginning. We want to make a name for ourselves so that they’ll remember us for next season,” he said.

Being tagged the first black pairs skaters is not a disadvantage, they insist.

“It’s often been remarked that we look different on the ice. So we want to highlight that,” said Bonheur.

I remember watching Surya Bonaly doing that one foot backflip.  I don’t think she ever got a medal, and I also recall a great deal of controversy and jokes at her expense.  That was the 90s.  I’m not sure the sport has grown that much, however I’m encouraged by these talented athletes.

Perhaps more diversity in the ice skating world will prevent incidents like this.

Really?  Brown body suits, faux body paint and eucalyptus leaves = Aboriginal. Sad.  Racial and cultural insensitivity.

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French schoolbooks riddled with racist stereotypes

A study of more than 3,000 illustrations found in 29 of France’s most commonly used school books revealed that black people were frequently portrayed as jazz musicians, good sprinters or poor, while children with foreign backgrounds were shown to be inferior academically than their white French peers.

The report by Halde, the state anti-discrimination body, cites an example of a picture of a girl with a “nice French name” getting top marks while her foreign-sounding classmate, Samira, failed the exercise.

In geography and social history textbooks, Africans are consistently shown as “poor and sick” – with the exception of one photograph of a “smiling Maasai herdsman surrounded by his flock while talking on a mobile phone”.

The French education system wants to make it clear that discrimination is an offence. It conceded that improvement had been made in recent years but there was a lack of “counter-examples” – positive images to counter negative ones.

Source

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Passing: “White” woman discovering her “Black” roots

From NY Times: A Daughter Discovers Branches of the Family Tree Pruned by Her Father

n town late last month for a publicity tour, Ms. Broyard, 41, grabbed and greeted cousins one after another as they came through the door. The gathering was at the temporary apartment of one cousin, Sheila Marie Prevost, 43, who lost her Upper Ninth Ward house and most of her possessions in Hurricane Katrina. Swing-era jazz filled the room. Ms. Broyard was guest of honor and auxiliary hostess.

In one animated moment she stood in a doorway tossing her dark curls, waving a chicken leg in one hand and a bowl of red beans and rice in the other.

“Thank you for letting us invade your house — it’s Creole domination!” she called out to Ms. Prevost’s companion.

It has been a decade since Ms. Broyard discovered her New Orleans kin. Despite skin tones ranging from alabaster to brown, most of them regard themselves as black. Ms. Broyard believed herself to be completely white until 17 years ago. She grew up in an idyllic enclave in Southport, Conn., and spent weekends at an all-white yacht club there. She attended prep school and summered on Martha’s Vineyard.

Her father was Anatole Broyard, a longtime book critic and essayist for The New York Times. Somewhere during his years at Brooklyn College he slipped over the color line and began passing as white.

It was only on Mr. Broyard’s deathbed in 1990 that his daughter, then 24, learned the family secret: “Your father is part black,” her mother, Alexandra, blurted out to Ms. Broyard and her brother, Todd, when their father couldn’t muster the words.

He was the son of light-skinned Creoles from New Orleans and kept his background shadowy. Relatives almost never dropped by Anatole Broyard’s renovated 18th-century farmhouse in Connecticut.

Ms. Broyard said that she had always viewed her father as being of French heritage. He had olive skin, black hair and Gallic features. Any New Orleans Creole could have spotted him as one of them in a flash. Ms. Broyard said she never had the slightest inkling of any other background.

After learning her father’s secret and knowing almost nothing about the Creole subculture, Ms. Broyard decided to live in New Orleans off and on for eight months. She discovered that many so-called white Creoles insist that the term refers to only those born in the New World whose ancestors are European. However, the word is more commonly used today to describe people of French background mixed with African ancestry — Creoles of color.

“I identify with the mixed feeling of it,” said Ms. Broyard, who has her father’s darker coloring and the angular features of her mother, who contributed Norwegian ancestry. “It’s just like a piece of mercury — you just can’t pin a Creole down in one spot or another. The notion that people can fit here or there, it just doesn’t work in this country.”…

This is a great article…to read the rest click here

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Plumpy’nut feeds starving children in Africa

Doctors Without Borders nutritionist Dr. Milton Tectonidis, “Now we have something. It is like an essential medicine. In three weeks, we can cure a kid that … looked like they’re half dead. We can cure them just like an antibiotic.” When asked if Plumpy’nut was like penicillin, the doctor replies, “For these kids, yes.”

I just saw the story on 60 minutes on Plumpy’nut being distributed by Doctors Without Borders in Maradi, Niger. The little faces of starving African children was horrible…as it always is. I’m happy to see this wasn’t just another plea for aid, but a story about viable, inexpensive solutions to hunger. I was also happy to see that this product brings jobs and industry to the poorest of the poor.
Oh and let me say this before the comments come:  For those of you who will say that the sugar content of the product is to high, I have to agree to an extent. For those who would say that there could be a more wholesome product that is better for the health of these children that could be produced, I say, “I’m sure there may be”.  However, if Plumpy’nut will make a difference between life or death for a starving child, even if it only means a few more years of life, I’m happy about it’s being made available in Africa.  I’m not going to criticize the efforts, especially if I don’t have any solutions that I can currently impliment and save lives.

(Click here for the New York Times article)

Plumpy’nut is a peanut-based food for use in famine relief which was formulated by André Briend, a French scientist in 1999.

It is a high protein and high energy peanut-based paste in a foil wrapper that can be distributed to children at home rather than in specialist feeding stations and can be eaten without any preparation. It tastes like a slightly sweeter kind of peanut butter.

The problem of malnutrition has often been addressed by nutritious powdered milk. These have to be prepared in hygienic conditions with clean water and once prepared must be chilled to prevent spoilage. This entails their being distributed in medically staffed feeding stations. Plumpy’nut costs about the same as the milk powders but is easier to transport in bulk and takes up less space. In areas where there is no clean water and no refrigeration this is a Godsend.

The great innovation of the Plumpy’nut bar is that it requires no preparation or special supervision and greatly reduces the amount of money needed to be spent on feeding stations. It is very difficult to over eat and keeps even after opening. It has a 2 year shelf life when unopened. An untrained adult such as a parent can deliver it to a malnourished child at home.

The ingredients are: peanut paste, vegetable oil, milk powder, vitamins and minerals, combined in a foil pouch. Each pack provides 500 kilocalories. (wikipedia)

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