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A Newsletter. Special Edition

World Cup Special Edition - Les Bleus est Africaine (The French Team is African)
by Chika Dunga.

"France is the only African team left in the World Cup." - Public opinion :P
This is the real France
Yegor Aleyev/TASS (Photo by Yegor Aleyev/TASS via Getty Images
France is playing Belgium today in the semi - finals of the World Cup. If you've been playing attention, you've probably noticed that a significant portion of the French national team is comprised of players of African descent. How did this happen? In this special edition, we explore France's colonial history and immigration policies that have created its growing multiethnic society and the struggle for Egalité, Liberté, and Fraternité for all French citizens. 

Black, Blanc, and Beurs (Black, White and Arab)
What an interesting title
Yes, I know, but ask your French brothers and sisters. This name was given to the victorious 1998 World Cup Team because the team was. . . well, comprised of black, white, and arab players. 

Give Me the Details
Let it be known that France has always had issues with immigration and race in it's increasingly colorful society. The 1998 World Cup team provided the opportunity for the divided country to unite behind a a victorious multiethnic team dubbed Black, Blanc, and Beurs (Black, White, and Arab) - how creative. Their win was a historical moment and gave a short lived glimmer of hope and acceptance for Black and Brown French people. It also perpetuated the illusion constructed by White France that it was a democratic color blind society. 

How Did France Become multicultural?
Colonialism and Immigration. Multiculturalism isn't the right word, that's more of an American concept developed from the country's unique immigrant origins and composition. Multiethnic is a better term to describe France. France pushes a secular national identity, where theoretically you are French first before your ethnic background, gender, religion. Emphasis on Theoretically

France doesn't track ethnic data. But estimates say there are 11.8M immigrants in the small country. 4M from North Africa and 1M from Sub - saharan Africa. During the 19th and 20th century, France had the second largest colonial empire behind Britain. After World War II, France's economy needed a labor kickstart, so they opened up the gates. Many immigrants also left their homes, escaping political instability, war, and dictatorships -- most of which can be traced back to Queen France. 

But Integration Hasn't Been Easy
Immigration is never easy in any country, unless you're super privileged, but Northern and Sub - saharan Africans have had it really bad in France. Poor policies and disenfranchisement have led to large immigrant communities living in neighborhoods outside of France called banlieues -- similar to the ghettos in the United States. 

Ok where does Soccer Come into this Story?
France 24 English and Vox Media do an excellent job linking the creation of the French soccer system with the country's immigration history. A significant portion of french talent comes from the African immigrant dominated banlieues

Why France Produces the Most World Cup Players - must watch piece by Vox 

What Remains of the Multicultural France that Won the 1998 World Cup? - by France 24 English

Where Does that Leave us?
It's getting really interesting in France, and quite frankly the Western World. As we see in the United States, as more people reclaim their unique ethnic identities, majority culture still pushes for assimilation and even more blatantly erasure. Recently French MP's voted to remove the word race from the constitution to promote a colorless French society. Sounds like a nice utopia to strive for, but critics argue that France's intentional unwillingness to acknowledge its multiethnic society protects the government from actually measuring the extent of racial discrimination and economic disenfranchisement that its African population is experiencing

To quote Gregory Pierrot from his piece about his complex French identity (great read by the way), "Je supporte la France, mais la France m’insupporte (I support France, but France does not support me). 

Wunderkid Kylian Mbappé is the most important French person in the world right now. Image Credit: FIFA

Happy Watching! 
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what is this?
Welcome to the #NoPopcornMedia newsletter. I'm frustrated by the lack of high quality journalism and storytelling - especially around black focused content. So I decided to create my own newsletter with curated stories that I find interesting and I think you would too.  My hope is that these stories expand your world and act as a catalyst for your future. Maybe its traveling to new country, sowing an idea, or dating that guy/girl -- whatever it is, stories are bridges to new discoveries.  
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