The protestors in Ferguson received support form a rather unlikely place this week. French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira — the equivalent of our Attorney General — sent out two tweets. The first, in French, read:
“Michael Brown, racial profiling, social exclusion, territorial segregation, cultural marginalization, guns, fear, fatal cocktail!”
But not everyone on Twitter speaks French so Minister Taubira also tweeted in English and made her point eloquently with the help of Bob Marley:
For you youngsters out there, the quote is from a Bob Marley song entitled, “I Shot The Sheriff,” which Eric Clapton covered and had a big hit with back in the late 1970s. Here’s the context:
Sheriff John Brown always hated me,
For what, I don’t know:
Every time I plant a seed,
He said kill it before it grow –
He said kill them before they grow.
— Lyrics © BLUE MOUNTAIN MUSIC LTD. —
Taubira was almost immediately attacked by French government officials and political opponents. The official spokesperson for the French government scolded Taubira, saying that she should not have commented about events here in the U.S. as we have our own “rules and procedures.” A right-wing (yes, they have one, too) foe of Taubira whined that she made him “ashamed” of his country.
Like Obama, Christiane Taubira attracts racist comments.
As her country’s first black Justice Minister, Taubira has been the subject of much racism, some similar to what President Barack Obama has endured. Earlier this year, Taubira was attacked by right-winger Anne-Sophie Leclere with this picture:
Under the monkey’s face it reads, “At 18 months,” and under Taubira’s picture, “Now.” Looks somewhat familiar, doesn’t it? When you add her accompanying comment — I prefer to see her swinging in a tree than to see her in government — it was even worse. The French government wasn’t amused, however, and Leclere was sentenced to 9 months in prison and a big fine. If we could do that here, we’d have had to build a dedicated prison. And, last year, a French right-wing
rag magazine bore the headline: “Taubira Finds Her Banana.” Isn’t that special?
Taubira, who took office in 2012, takes it all in stride. She appeared on France Radio explaining why she had sent out those Tweets. She wanted to express solidarity, she stated:
“I am not making a value judgment on United States institutions [but] when the feeling of frustration is so strong, so deep, so lasting and massive, you have to ask yourself about the trust in these institutions. One realizes this only happens to the same people, African-American kids. So there is the problem of a certain number of clichés, portrayals, prejudices which can create terrible reflexes.”
She definitely gets it. And, while some may think that she, being from another country (France, oh no!) should not weigh in on America and our race issues, Americans do not see fit to refrain from making comments about France. Remember the whole “Freedom fries” nonsense? In fact, Americans are not shy about commenting on any country, their problems or why they should be more like us. Many of those are in Congress.
Thank you Minister Christiane Taubira. We appreciate you comments and support.