July 25, 2018

France, football and race: What does it mean to be French?

Joke by South African comedian Trevor Noah sparks debate on identity.

Comedian Trevor Noah unleashed a firestorm of controversy with a joke about France’s World Cup-winning team.

In a sketch on his US programme, The Daily Show, Noah quipped that “Africa won the World Cup”, referring to the large number of French players of African descent.

Gérard Araud, France’s ambassador to the US, took umbrage.

“To us there is no hyphenated identity. Roots are an individual reality. By calling them an African team it seems you are denying their Frenchness,” Araud wrote in a letter condemning Noah's comments. “This even in jest legitimises the ideology which defines whiteness as the only way of being French.”

Noah continues to stand by his remarks, which have awakened the debate on race in France and what it means to be French.

So can you have a hyphenated identity? And what does the French win say about it? We’ll dive into the debate on this episode of The Stream.

On this episode of The Stream, we speak with:

Rokhaya Diallo @RokhayaDiallo
Journalist and Host of BET France

Madjid Messaoudene @MadjidFalastine
Deputy City Councilor, Paris Suburb of Seine-Saint-Denis

Pierre Haski @pierrehaski
Journalist and Commentator

Louis Sarkozy @Louis_Kozy
French Philosophy and Religion Student, New York University

Read more: 

Trevor Noah's World Cup joke shows how the world misunderstands the French - Quartz 
France's World Cup soccer players are as African as they want to be - Quartz 
Don't let France's World Cup victory erase the issues affecting black French people - The Washington Post 

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