We received a note from ally, former volunteer, and Paris native Alia Benabdellah this week. The DSC does not endorse any particular political perspective as we are not a political advocacy group. That said we always thinks it’s important to tap into our allies point of views on the relationship between city and culture especially when that might help Detroit think of its own cultural strategies. As Alia says below: “Now is the time for thinking.” Alia was born and raised in Paris where she is currently in her second year of thesis about Detroit and its “Black militant techno scene.” She spent six months in Detroit this year and plans to come back as soon as she can. She also teaches and writes articles for High Five Magazine.
Saturday 14th of November, Paris woke up with the worst hangover of its history. It is our way of living that killed us, our deep love for music, soccer, food or having a glass of wine outside, our precious joie de vivre. I red somewhere a comment from someone being surprised that everybody was talking about the terrasse culture here in the city of lights considering the facts that there are restaurant or bar’s patios everywhere in the globe. It is true but the terrasse in Paris are more than just a place to eat outside, it’s a place of culture, a place of diversity where you share 20cm of space with the person next to you, where you put the world to rights while talking and laughing for hours, where you meet new people and always going home too late.
It is something special for every person that has been able to enjoy it. Specially in the East of Paris which is synonym of such a beautiful diversity, poor, rich, Arabic, Black, White, Muslim, Non Muslim, Christian… everybody is living together, and it’s this lovely success that terrorists wanted to take it down. We embody all that they hate, the joy, the non-religious atmosphere, the music, the liberty of women, the guys kissing on the street, the diversity of origins living together. Well, we will resist and with this insolence that is ours… we will dance, kiss, drink, slander on religion and do all these things that make you feel like Paris is liberty for all kind of human beings. Let’s always remember, Paris est une fête and nobody can that away from us.
Now time of mourning and crying is behind us, we are less hurt than at the beginning, less shocked. Now is time for thinking. Thinking about the repercussions that these attacks will have on the Muslim community of France and fight against them. Thinking about the role France must have in order to battle the deep stigmatization of Muslim people whose their youth has four time less chances to have a job if they are called Mohamed rather than François.
As laic as am I, I still believe that religion needs the State to be raised to our standard of common life, Islam needs France and France needs to make this religion as legitimate as the others, the society must fight the stigmatization of people from African immigration, it is a crucial part of the solution. Rather than bombing places thousands kilometers away, let’s fix our society right here in France, let’s work on changing mentalities to make the East of Paris an model of integration and diversity for the rest of our country, for us to really live with Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité.
Note: Paris este une fête literally means “Paris is a party” which is the French translation of the title of the book A Moveable Feast from Ernest Hemingway.