"Today marks the 50th anniversary of the "French-Algerian Massacre," when at least 200 Algerians living in Paris were killed by French police and another 11,000 or so were arrested while protesting for Algerian independence from France.

 

Nabila Ramdani (in The Guardian) reminds us that “many of the killers had been Nazi collaborators who learned their crowd control methods from the Gestapo” and not much has changed in terms of the living conditions and treatment of French-Algerians living in Paris today. Curfews in the banlieues (some of which were the sites of massive protest in 2005), unemployment, police brutality and abuse of the old Algerian war legislation prevent Algerian citizens of France from living freely.

The last time I was in Paris was during the 2006 World Cup (I was cheering on Zidane and my French is much better than my German). I had gone out with some friends who lived in Les Ulis, a banlieue which ironically houses many corporate headquarters. After a few hours of post-match euphoria, I decided it was time to go home … only to be informed that we were locked in the neighborhood for the evening…”

(Read the rest by clicking the link above)

James Baldwin was born on this day in 1924.

I often show his debate with William Buckley on the “American Dream” to my students.

It is available in 6 parts on youtube.

My students listen to him speak in awe.

I watch his hands move.

And for James Baldwin’s ability to question his own preconceptions of Arabs when he witnessed the terror wrought against Algerians in Paris, I thank him. No Name in the Street offers people of colour in the West a model for questioning their reliance on the imposed racial prejudices which uphold the pillars of white supremacy. Arabs are black, in short, and Baldwin witnessed the ways in which we have been taught to hate one another - and who it ultimately benefitted. 

Happy birthday Jimmy.