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Guest Blogger: In The Shadow Of The Eiffel Tower

More From Scott Paulson in Paris

Above: Scott Paulson is practically living under the Eiffel Tower during his stay in Paris for the Black France Film Festival.

The Black France Film Festival has been lively and lots of discussion continues long after the screenings. The new colleagues that I’ve met are sending me extra comments this weekend to share with our blog readers. The French census shows that Americans are the largest immigrant population in Paris.  That census doesn’t capture race, just country of birth, so it’s difficult to know the actual black population.  As I’ve been traveling through Paris and attending the Festival, it is obvious that there is a thriving black community here. You’ll be reading Festival comments from the African-Americans in Paris soon, stay tuned!

Many of the films in the festival reference the influence of African-Americans on French culture, and many address black immigrants from other countries and the wide African diaspora.  Two lively round table discussions were a recent highlight---particularly a hip-hop set of short films and videos given the over-all title “Fear of a Black Planet” (more to come from my French-speaking colleagues on that soon).

The venue "Forum des Images" is centrally located and provides extra visibility for the festival. The general public has been attending many of the screenings and round tables. I want to visit again some season and participate in their youth outreach program...check out their website!

The festival activities started early with a pre-opening reception at the French Embassy in Paris

A beatific, beaming Bennetta Jules-Rosette (beaming with partial assistance from the flash on my camera) and T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting at the pre-opening reception of the Black France Film Festival in the palatial compound of the U.S Embassy in Paris.

Scott Paulson

Above: A beatific, beaming Bennetta Jules-Rosette (beaming with partial assistance from the flash on my camera) and T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting at the pre-opening reception of the Black France Film Festival in the palatial compound of the U.S Embassy in Paris.

Professor Bennetta Jules-Rosette at the U.S. Embassy in Paris with (a framed picture of) President Obama.

Scott Paulson

Above: Professor Bennetta Jules-Rosette at the U.S. Embassy in Paris with (a framed picture of) President Obama.

Ferricia Fatia, Trica and Bennetta. Trica is the head organizer of this festival.

Scott Paulson

Above: Ferricia Fatia, Trica and Bennetta. Trica is the head organizer of this festival.

At the Thursday reception, Ferricia (above left) sang a set of songs dedicated to Jenny Alpha, a famed black stage actress who is still with us.  A short film about Alpha was screened at that embassy function. I asked Ferricia to give me a brief thought about the festival so far, and she came up with this elegant statement:

"The France Noir Film Festival has shown me images... faces and facets of Paris that I'd never seen before.  The occassion to sing  for the opening ceremony paying homage to Jenny Alpha was a true honor, and her story reinforced my ideals about art/music and it's purpose in my life."

About my more general impressions of Paris: YES!  I am staying near the Eiffel Tower and I walk by it every day!

The Eiffel Tower.

Scott Paulson

Above: The Eiffel Tower.

I can’t figure out how to make the shower head work in my fancy hotel bathroom, so I take bubble baths every night -- DON'T WORRY, READERS. NO PICTURES POSTED!  And every night I say out loud, “I’m taking a bubble bath in Paris, France!”  (And I feel very special each time I say that…)

On that odd note, farewell.

Comments

Avatar for user 'nickstro'

nickstro | May 26, 2010 at 1:40 p.m. ― 4 years, 2 months ago

Thanks for covering this important festival!

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Avatar for user 'missylou22'

missylou22 | May 26, 2010 at 1:41 p.m. ― 4 years, 2 months ago

How thrilling! Not just the beautiful backdrop but the lovely people & thriving arts community. Living vicariously through you!

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Avatar for user 'lizabbott'

lizabbott | May 26, 2010 at 3:56 p.m. ― 4 years, 2 months ago

I'm so jealous! Sounds like a fantastic time, Scott. Plus, isn't your birthday around now? What a cool B-Day experience. See ya.

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Avatar for user 'CherylBrown'

CherylBrown | May 26, 2010 at 9:05 p.m. ― 4 years, 2 months ago

Happy Birthday, Scott! I'm so happy you're celebrating it in Gay Paree!

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Avatar for user 'jaxelrod'

jaxelrod | May 26, 2010 at 9:54 p.m. ― 4 years, 2 months ago

Dear Scott

Bubble bath waiting for you in San Diego. Come home energized and with beautiful memories.

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Avatar for user 'mutant'

mutant | May 27, 2010 at 3:41 a.m. ― 4 years, 1 month ago

Very nice blogging and a wonderful performance. Black Hats-off to you and your musicians Scott - looking forward to the next show

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Avatar for user 'jollyjan'

jollyjan | May 27, 2010 at 6:24 a.m. ― 4 years, 1 month ago

What is heartening, I think, is that one might travel the world and yet see that people everywhere have the same qualities and the same commitments. (as well as many of the same failings!) I surely did not know that there is a large African-American community in France. It's wonderful to see, and I hope that the social climate there is better than it is in many places in the States. It's interesting, to me, how many Euro countries do not have the sorts of racial problems that are found in the US.

Thank you for the report, Scott, and happy b'day! (bubble baths, btw, do not sound at all bad to me!)

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Avatar for user 'liaf'

liaf | May 27, 2010 at 6:39 a.m. ― 4 years, 1 month ago

what an amazing trip, can't wait to hear the details! loved that KPBS saw your value as a guest blogger, hopefully you'll do it more!

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Avatar for user 'laurac'

laurac | May 27, 2010 at 9:26 a.m. ― 4 years, 1 month ago

Wow, what an excellent adventure this is, Mr. Paulson. Yes, do enjoy those bubble baths (with a glass of bubbly I hope) while you can but don't forget to return to all the little people you left behind back here at the ranch.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | May 27, 2010 at 1:27 p.m. ― 4 years, 1 month ago

"That census doesn’t capture race, just country of birth, so it’s difficult to know the actual black population."

Most European nations forbid (by law) the collection of racial data. Many Europeans are commonly confused with and sometimes appalled by the American obsession with collecting racial data. I must agree with them.

Perhaps some day in the distant future these people will identify with being just American and drop the African hyphenation. I'm saddened to see this group taking divisive American-style racial profiling to Europe. But, as it is originating from the US Embassy in Paris, I suspect it will fade away when Obama is no longer president.

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Avatar for user 'missjudy'

missjudy | May 27, 2010 at 2:17 p.m. ― 4 years, 1 month ago

I love this Blog. It helps us all to treasure our own individuality. Having a representative like Mr. Paulson in Paris only confirms that fact that San Diegans/Californians/Americans are just as keen on culture as anyone in the world. Kudos to you Scott for making this happen. It makes us proud.
MissJudy

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Avatar for user 'Rhonda'

Rhonda | June 2, 2010 at 3:31 a.m. ― 4 years, 1 month ago

CaliforniaDefender, please do not confuse the European nations' law against the collection of racial data as a favorable measure in the struggle for racial equality in these countries. This has simply allowed these nations to dismiss the inequalities and lack of representation in many levels of their societies. If we cannot count them, we cannot say that their admittance into schools, professions, housing, etc is under -represented, thus no need to enforce measures to bring about change. Please do not be fooled, racism, extremism exists in Europe, all the more haunting because it often hides behind "laws", closed doors, in dark corners and it's not spoken of overtly. The minorities have also been far less militant. They arrived in their host countries in small droves and over time, causing no immediate threat to the majority population. But things change as the generations born in the host countries realize they are in fact treated as second class citizens. Then what do you get? No, not an organized militant struggle. You get outright violence in the streets with no voice for the struggle. This is what happened in France in 2004 and continues to happen in many neighborhoods throughout the country.

There is nothing wrong with identifying oneself in hyphenated terms. We should be proud of our origins and be free to express them without fear of discrimination of any kind.

Last note, the American Embassy offered the venue for the opening of the Festival but by no means was at the origin of it's creation and organization. So let's not label this as an "Obama event." Speaking of racial profiling ...

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | June 3, 2010 at 5:35 p.m. ― 4 years, 1 month ago

Rhonda,

European nations prohibit collecting racial data to protect minorities not to somehow dismiss inequality. Racial identity is considered a negative in Europe as national identity is preferred. Europeans call themselves German, French, or Italian. Not Caucasian, African, or Asian. In fact when called Caucasian they usually reply "I'm not from the Caucasus" while laughing.

Moreover, there is a deference between the way minorities in Europe view themselves and minorities in the US. Those in Europe have attempted to integrate and assimilate with the host culture to a far greater degree. If you ask a Moroccan in France who they are, they will most likely tell you French. It would be considered quite peculiar to say Moroccan-French. US minorities love to remind themselves (and everyone around them) of their native culture and many make it clear that it is preferred to that of the host.

However, you are correct that American-style aggression and militancy is slowly polluting Europe. Just over the last decade I have noticed more minorities in Europe exclusively identifying with their native culture. They skip the hyphenation and simply call themselves Turk, Kenyan, or Nigerian even if second or third generation. But I support that. If you don't accept and fully assimilate into the host culture, you are still of your native culture and should identify as such.

What is of most concern is how you, most US minorities, and now some minorities in Europe so quickly turn to militancy. That is a direct threat to national security and I don't blame any nation for strengthening immigration laws and limiting civil liberties as a result.

Lastly, a US embassy hosting an event is implied consent of the president, and many times direct. I have never heard of such an odd event in Europe like the "Black French Film Festival" which seems to be more the creation of African-Americans and not the French. So it doesn't take much to draw a reasonable conclusion.

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Avatar for user 'ellenlawson'

ellenlawson | June 12, 2010 at 8:15 p.m. ― 4 years, 1 month ago

Scott! You are the So Cal ambassador to The City of Lights! Quel joie. Thanks for your informative and piquant account of your experiences at The France Noir Film Festival. I'm positif you have made mille friends in that most exquise city, and look forward to seeing your many photos when you return. Bonne anniversairre!

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Avatar for user 'anniehinton'

anniehinton | July 9, 2010 at 11:01 a.m. ― 4 years ago

Such a funny writer! Informative and hi lar i ous!

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Avatar for user 'parisbyphoto'

parisbyphoto | November 7, 2010 at 8:27 a.m. ― 3 years, 8 months ago

agreed, a funny writer indeed. Nice you stayed by the Eiffel Tower. You can see a gigipixel photo of it at http://www.parisbyphoto.com/monuments-buildings/et/

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