Although nine out of 10 Black people in France report that they are exposed to discrimination, the government ignores the problems caused by racism in the country, French politician and activist Patrick Lozes said.
In an interview with Anadolu on Monday, Lozes, the founder and president of the Representative Council of Black Associations (CRAN), evaluated the racism and discrimination that Black people in France face daily.
Drawing attention to a survey conducted by the independent research company Ipsos on Black people in France, Lozes said: “What the participants of the survey say is that there is discrimination in many areas of life. An overwhelming majority, 91% of Black people in France, say they are exposed to discrimination in daily life. This means that discrimination is a huge concern for almost every Black French.”
Noting that Black people face discrimination when looking for a home and a job, Lozes explained: “When you call and say you want a house, the person you are talking to tells you on the phone that the house is available, but when he realizes that you are Black, he may say that the house is not available. You will not be promoted. When you apply for a job, you send your resume and a few minutes later you are informed that the position is now filled. However, the position is still open to someone else who applied for the same position a few minutes after you.”
Lozes further underlined that discrimination also occurs in the most basic services, such as public transportation, and stated that some French people think that “Black people should get on after them” when getting on a bus or train.
Pointing out that Black people are not sufficiently included in the French National Assembly, in high-level positions in the army, or in managerial positions in companies, Lozes said: “There is prejudice against Black people. People think that black people are not talented enough. This is an obstacle.”
Recalling that Black Member of Parliament (MP) Carlos Martens Bilongo from La France Insoumise (France Unbowed) party was attacked with racist words by far-right MP Gregoire de Fournas during a speech in the National Assembly in 2022, Lozes said: “Bilongo was asked by one of the MPs to ‘go back to Africa.’ Can you say that to a member of parliament, a French member of parliament? If he was white, no one would be able to do that. It was absolutely shocking, but that’s exactly what Black people face on the streets.”
Lozes also said: “When you’re elected to the National Assembly, even your parliamentary colleagues can be racist towards you.”
“This is outrageous. The government must now accept that not all people in France are equal. As a country, we have absolutely wonderful values. I am French, I am proud of our values, but our values should apply to everyone, regardless of color,” Lozes said.
Stating that the French police carry out ethnic profiling of Black people, Lozes said: “When you ask Black people about what is happening in daily life, most of them say they are subject to more police checks and questioning than non-Black people.”
He also clarified that not every police officer is racist, but “there is racism within the police force.”
Emphasizing that it is wrong to criminalize Black people because of their skin color, Lozes said: “We should not be subjected to racism in our own country just because of our skin color. This is not fair. It is not fair for this country, which I appreciate and love. I would like France to be recognized as a country where there is equality, and racism is eliminated.”
‘Black people and French media’
Referring to the perception the media is creating about Black people, Lozes said: “I do not understand why newspapers, when a crime is committed somewhere, only report the crime, but when a Black person commits the crime, they emphasize that the crime was committed by a Black person.”
Pointing out that the French media gives more coverage to issues of racism against Black people than in the past, Lozes said: “Very few of the journalists in the most popular newspaper, Le Monde, or any television channel, are Black. That’s why I say to the media that it’s great to cover racism, but you have to look at yourself and do what you want other people to do.”
Noting that the biggest problem in France is ignoring racist and discriminatory practices against Black people, Lozes said: “It is important for France to accept that there is discrimination in the country and fight against this discrimination. But the government does not accept that there are discrimination problems that harm almost all Black people.”
Lamenting that he was also discriminated against throughout his career, Lozes said: “I laugh at this now. But when I went to my workplace for the first time in a suit, no one thought I was the boss because they are not used to seeing Black people in managerial positions.”
Lozes stated he left his position as president of CRAN in 2011 to become a candidate in the presidential election in France, and that an investigation was launched against him in December the same year.
“Transparency is clearly one of the values that we have to accept. If you’re in a public position, you have to accept that there may be an investigation. No one is above the law, and no one can break the law, but the way this investigation was conducted was unfair,” he said.
“If I wasn’t Black, the investigation would have been shorter, but it took too long. Fortunately, I was acquitted. I expected the outcome of the investigation to be reported, but the media was more interested in me being investigated rather than acquitted,” he added.