Tuesday, April 27, 2010


A well assimilated individual does not stand out. He or she blends in with society by whole-heartedly adopting its culture, being familiar with its national history, and having an overall sense of nationalism. In a society that encourages assimilation, the majority (in this case Frenchmen and women), may immediately feel threatened by the Other (mostly North African immigrants) who attempt to live an alternative lifestyle. In France, it is a problem when anyone or anything stands out from the rest. In a sea of green apples, the red one becomes a target for criticism, scrutiny, racism, discrimination, socialization, and a host of negativity that stigmatize the culture on a macro-level. Rather than being acknowledged as disadvantaged youth in a disadvantage neighborhood, the police, media, and judicial system appoint blame to cultural differences and family dynamics in immigrant families. The irony is that France is legally void of attributions and legal framework regarding race.
"Since the end of the racist policies of the World War II Vichy period, it has been illegal in France to collect data on ethnic, racial, religious, or cultural origin or to track racial or ethnic distributions in jobs or institutions. With the goal of rejecting racial categorization and institutionalized discrimination, public bodies have refused to permit any official recognition of racial or ethnic difference" (Terrio 2009:25).
In other words, they have adopted a color-blind society. This has proved to be the foundation for an aggressive means of assimilation. In order to promote a color-blind society, one must make sure that no one stands out as being different. So, how does the French judicial system cope with multiculturalism and immigrant populations who are proud of their ancestry? They demand that these immigrants fully ingest secular French culture. However, this is a failing agenda as Terrio notes the high overpopulation and representation of juveniles and immigrants in French prisons. By being legally void of race, the French judicial system is only masking the high correlation incarceration statistics of juveniles and immigrants.

I will post the rest next week.

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