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Cristina Marcello

4/14/2014
Postcolonial Urban Apartheid

The article Postcolonial Urban Apartheid written by Paul Silverstein and


Chantal Tetreault was extremely eye opening to me. My first instinct in looking at
this article was to be afraid of its length however as soon as I started reading I did
not want to stop. This was mainly validated when I realized the opening quote
was one from Supreme NTM, a Parisian rap/hip hop group. While I found that
very interesting and enjoyed the referencing of the group throughout the article,
it was an article which touched upon the severity of the discrimination, injustices,
and inequalities throughout France.
The article itself was also broken down into five major subsections, the
first of which being Colonial Logics. I found this section to be key as it introduces
us the stigma placed on immigrants living in France. It implies that the French do
not necessarily want to incorporate diversity in their culture and wish to
transform immigrant children into proper Frenchmen. However, through this
view they continue to contradict themselves by continuing to place a negative
stigma on these children due to their upbringing, neighborhood, race, etc. This
leads to the tension of young men and women in these cities or rather, housing
projects. As the author states:
The "rage" expressed by young men from the cits does not spring
from either anti-imperialist Arab nationalism or some sort of antiWestern jihadism as Fouad Ajami, Alain Finkielkraut, Charles
Krautheimer, and Daniel Pipes among others would have it, 2 but
rather from lifetimes of rampant unemployment, school failure, police
harassment, and everyday racist discrimination that tends to treat
them generally as the racaille of Sarkozy's insultregardless of
race, ethnicity, or religion. (Silverstein; Tetreault)

This quote answers a few questions as to why injustices, such as the one
researched in this article, lead to poor economic situations for those people who
do not find themselves in the majority or those referred to as the other. The
police harassment and everyday racism further contributes and enhances the
stigma that not only the country, but also the media put on the people. When this
mindset of one race being lesser and more aggressive become popular it leads to
political platforms, such as those of people like Jean-Marie Le Pen who publically
believed that "For years, if not for decades, we've been repeating our alarm of a
massive immigration from outside Europe that will result in the submergence
and ruin of France." When statements like this are made it becomes difficult to
find money to fund more racial diverse schools and when we are not able to
educate our youth how may we expect them to become productive Frenchmen
and find jobs? Instead of enabling them to become functioning parts of society
they are placed in a cyclical trap of inequalities.
Another part of this article I found extremely interesting was the section
on Violent Spirals. Due to the aforementioned rage amongst the youth riots and
rebellion against the government, police, and more privileged began. One way
this became prevalent was through what became known as rodeos. This is when
a young man would steal a vehicle, initiate a police chase, and finally abandon
and burn the vehicle. This became almost that of a trend of those in cites to
show their response to their injustices:
Although the American media have mistakenly referred to such violence as
involving "gangs," these groups are not organized into larger economic or
political units. Rather, loosely structured fictive kinship of "older" and
"younger brothers" (les grands et les petits frres) gives shape to
community-wide networks of economic exchange and social reciprocity. In

some instances, grands frres censor violence in cits by condemning, and


thus preventing, vandalism and graffiti. At other times, as is now the case
in France, urban violence and property damage is considered by many
young cit dwellers to be a logical response to the latest instance of police
brutality in a long history of it.
I found this particulary interesting because even America, a country which prides
itself on freedom, still made the young cite men out to be the villain rather than
shed light upon their reasons for lashing out against the government.
Overall I found this article to be extremely interesting. In my few weeks of
staying in France I found it easy to see the level of racism prevalent however I
was unaware of the history behind it. Reading about housing projects being
compared to jihad terrorist recruitment camps alone brought me to a new
realization of just how terrible it could have/may still be. In regards to economics
I continue to find throughout my readings that in refusing to educate a certain
group of people, you deny them the possibility of contributing to the society
through means of a career and/or stimulating the economy.