French viewing the United States differently since the election of Barack Obama

Americans and the French view racial equality through different lenses, according to French journalist Nicole Bacharan.

Bacharan spoke Friday evening at Georgia Tech on behalf of the Alliance Francaise d”Atlanta and the European Union Center of Excellence at the Sam Nunn School of International Studies.

For example, affirmative action is France is referred to as positive discrimination. While Bacharan said affirmative action has been fairly successful in the United States, it’s harder to track success in France. That’s because the French do not disclose their ethnic or racial identity on documents.

According to Bacharan, the French have viewed the United States as being prejudice and making African-Americans live in ghettos.

The election of Barack Obama was an “enormous step” for the United States, she said. But it threw the French off-guard.

“It is having an enormous impact in France,” Bacharan said. “The United States is supposed to be racist and backwards, and it’s supposed to be creating ghettos. The United States took a big step with the election of Barack Obama.”

The French are having their own racial struggles. It’s a tough job market. And the young ethnic minorities, who often live in the suburbs, have become more and more frustrated. That frustration led to riots in 2005.

“The job market is so tight,” Bacharan said. “The economic issue (in France) is a very dire issue.”

Toward the end of her talk, Bacharan acknowledged that she tends to be pessimistic about the French system.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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