13:31, January 5th
Last summer, I found a vintage copy of Chester Himes' The Heat's On at Shakespeare & Co, tiny, yet overstuffed English Language bookstore across the bank from Notre Dame-Paris. I was reminded that I was a part of a long tradition of black American creatives who sought refuge in this city from American injustice.
The Europe of Himes' and James Baldwin's and Anna Julia Cooper's times no longer exists. While people of color have been in living throughout the continent for millennia, unprecedented migration from Asia, Africa, and Latin America over recent years has increased the ethnic diversity of the Europe, especially France. In turn, this is likely the cause for current attitudes of many Europeans on skin color. Many resent that now they have to share their system of socialism with the people colonized in order to build the economic wealth behind it.
One afternoon in the garden next to Notre-Dame, a classmate told me she wished she had been around for the days of the "real France" before the immigrants came "with all their crime and laziness". I was appalled for many reasons, including the fact she is also an immigrant from Russia who had recently married an expatriate from the UK, giving her a right to stay and enjoy the freedoms and opportunities of France. We discussed for an hour the inherent prejudice in her perspective but she never wavered from her opinion that people from the Global South were ruining France.