‘Too Black To Be French’: New book dismantles the ‘ordinary’ racism faced by Black French people
September 26, 2017
“On ne naît pas noir, on le devient… dans le regard des autres.”
“One is not born black, one becomes…in the gaze others.”
The granddaughter of magistrate Alphonse Boni who worked during the colonization of Ivory Coast, writer Isabelle Boni-Claverie was raised by her adoptive parents. As a child and a teenager, she has lived both in France and in the Ivory Coast. She was taught the so-called “benefits” of colonialism by her adoptive father, among others. “I have long believed that my skin color did not matter. After all, my grandfather was black, my grandmother white, and they were married at a time (the early 20th century) where such mixed marriages were extremely rare,” Boni-Claverie told AFROPUNK.
After leaving the well-intentioned but anti-black and misguided cocoon of her upbringing, the harsh realities of what race signifies in predominately white countries, Boni-Claverie was faced with the existential heaviness of race. “Soon enough, when I started living alone, I became disillusioned,” Boni-Claverie says. “I was not Isabelle, with all the different facets that make up my identity. I was ‘a Black’. And contrary to what they were trying to make me believe since I was little, being black was nothing meaningful in the eyes or in the words of white people who saw me as a Black girl.”
‘Trop Noire Pour Etre Française’ (“Too Black To Be French”) is Boni-Claverie’s complicated and beautiful perspective on decolonizing the French mind and dismantling the systematic inferiorization of Black French people. It includes fascinating anecdotes from historical figures including Queen Beatrix of Holland and her late husband Prince Claus, President Felix Houphouët-Boigny and others.
Isabelle Boni-Claverie will be having two booking signings this week and weekend in Paris Fri. Sept. 29 at the Wallonia-Brussels Center and Sat. Sept. 30 as part of the Salon of Literature at the Lis-Teas-Ratures bookstore in Boulogne.
“Trop Noire Pour Etre Française” is available in France, Belgium, Switzerland, Spain, Ivory Coast, in Canada (from 2 October) and on Amazon, Fnac.com, and more.
In Martinique, the book can be found in the following libraries:
LIB ANTILLAISE ROUNDABOUT
CAS’A BUBBLES MARTINIQUE
LIB CARIBBEAN FORT France
LIB ANTILLAISE GALLERIA
BOOKSHOP THE BLUE BUTTERFLY
In Guadeloupe: General stock Jasor, CMA press shop
In Reunion: Sodhyouest SAS otherwise Gerard bookstore stationery
Guyana: The cas’a bubbles, Guyalire bookstore, Amazon letters