The term “black” is one of the terms that France has difficulty accepting, and for this it uses the anglicism of the latter: Black .
Why is this a bad idea?
There is no point hiding it, France is a country in which racism is still very present . This is something we can also feel in simple things in life, like the French language.
Misuse of the French language
Indeed, many people today assume that words can demonstrate proof of racism, which is true when the attack is direct and even subtle. But in reality, some blockages occur for no reason, such as substituting the term “black” for expressions like “person of color” or “renoi”.
So many terms that push people to avoid saying the word “black”, as if it were insulting or considered a breach of the rules of politeness. In addition to that, using an English term goes much better, which allows you to get around a major problem: accepting an identity other than your own.
The fear of an identity...
First of all, by using the term “black” there is no honor given to the French language, which may seem contradictory in a country where this culture is very popular.
But the problem raised here remains that by designating a black person in this way, we do not wish to admit the latter's ethnic identity. It's more or less as if it is disturbing to have a dark-skinned person in front of us, an uneasiness is created, and in order not to intensify this uneasiness, we have to get around it.
On the other hand, there is a fear of using the term “black” in the desire not to mention any racial issue. It is in some ways a form of denial, with History and its dark periods, designating a dark-skinned person as “black” remained a pejorative with very negative connotations.
Despite the consequences caused by the history of the black community, the impression of inferiorizing black people by using the term “black” will always remain present, even in our subconscious. Besides, we talk about it in the next part.
Racial questions to avoid!
Also, using the term “black” also means becoming aware that the person concerned is different from us in the face of the pseudo-white norm .
There is an obvious fear, that of positioning oneself on the side of the party having “full power” and taking on the role of the one who discriminates. Although it is done unconsciously, even if a person considers themselves non-racist, using the term "black" demonstrates a racial issue that we do not wish to confront directly. By using this term, it remains a way of avoiding communitarianism and marginalizing ethnic groups.
Secondly, it is obvious that when we see a black person, the colonialist and discriminatory past may resurface, all based on a skin color. In fact, telling a black person that they are black is to stir up this painful past by assimilating this word to that of “negro” which is, in this case, very pejorative and even insulting. So, adopting the word “black” is a way of smoothing things over and designating a black person in a “presentable” way.
When Black people consider themselves “Black”
Finally, we will also present to you another problem, which exists within the black community itself. Although non-racialized people are more likely to use the term "black", it turns out that some black people also adopt this designation.
It is a reality, black people use the term “black” to highlight the color of their skin, and this is worrying. By doing this, it is obvious to see a real identity problem, at least in terms of ethnicity. Still far too many black people do not feel aligned with their origins, their past and their difference. Thus, considering ourselves “black” allows us to detach ourselves, take a step back from what we are and, by the way, give ourselves a style in order to fill our inner wounds.
Finally, it must be admitted, many black people are afraid of being black! As a result, a form of xenophobia towards oneself takes place. Although the black claim is more and more important these days, there will still be certain fragilities.
To conclude, using a simple term like “black” can raise important questions, and above all reveal a general unease. Between the fear of insulting a black person by designating them as black, and the personal frustration of belonging to a black ethnic group, this subject still remains at the heart of social debates.
Article written by Melyssa B.