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Rokhaya Diallo: “France is not universalist” – France


Aged 43, Rokhaya Diallo, who rejects the term “militant” because she is not affiliated with any party, has made herself known through her media defense of the “decolonial” current. People “racialized” by the color of their skin are still today victims of discrimination born of colonialism, according to the supporters of this current.

Sometimes there is an obvious tension when you speak. Are you stimulated by the controversy?

No, I don’t appreciate the controversy at all and its superficiality: I like intellectual confrontation, to be able to present my ideas in a serene context, and to be “challenged” to go to my limits. That’s why I make documentaries, write a lot, give lectures abroad… I have also just been appointed to Georgetown University, in Washington, as an associate researcher, in a new research center on social justice. Working with people who will feed my thinking motivates me a lot, more than the sterile confrontation of social networks.

Your current of thought, known as intersectionalist, decolonial, is much better represented in the United States than in France. Do you think that the universalism that France claims to be an obstacle?

It is true that in other countries, including Germany or the United Kingdom, there is a more peaceful reception of my remarks than in France. This word of universalism, I have the impression that some have grabbed it. But I don’t feel less universalist than them. Simply, what I am saying as universalism is more inclusive: we cannot declare ourselves as such if we do not include everyone.

“The reality of France has nothing to do with what is stated on the pediments of its town halls. “

Are we still too blind to discrimination in France?

What I think is that France is not universalist, because it struggles to treat its citizens in a fair and egalitarian manner. There is extremely present, profound discrimination in hiring, and this is a phenomenon that we are not discovering today. Discrimination in housing, borrowing, etc. Not only do we not implement policies to correct it, but, in addition, as soon as we try to talk about it, we are accused of dividing. However, what divides is not those who denounce discrimination, it is the discrimination itself, and sexism, racism, homophobia, etc. And what prevents France from embracing its universalism is its inability to question itself. The posture of a country of human rights and universalist is theoretical: the reality of France has nothing to do with what is stated on the pediment of its town halls.

What do you think this lag is due to?

I think there is a denial. And something that is also linked to the position and culture of France, a country that was very powerful, which had the second largest colonial empire, which still extends today over several continents, including the language was that of diplomacy … He has all the more trouble with questioning that they come from the margins. We are therefore going to attack minority people because of their ethnic origin, because we consider them incompetent to question such a large country, because we refuse to admit that we are not in a perfect country. To admit it, I think, is to have esteem for this country. Questioning it means that we want to make all the realities that compose it coexist. We are not tender, of course. But it is for a positive purpose.

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