Yes, French People of Color Are Allowed to Celebrate the World Cup

On July 11, during a G20 meeting in Hamburg (Germany), Emmanuel Macron, the very young French president known for his respect and his tact towards his fellow African colleagues had the audacity to think that, after some diplomatic trips to Africa, he had found the reasons that prevent the continent to develop itself. Therefore, it is not without condescension  that Macron explained that the continent suffers from a “cultural problem”: after stating that the incorrect number of 7-9 children per women is too high, Emmanuel Macron then highlighted the fact that as long as African people continue to have as many children, all the money invested in the continent by nice and philanthropes European countries would not change anything.

Five days later, on the July 15, the French team won the World Cup against Croatia. Composed of 23 players, including 19 of African descents, the whole country went wild over the win. Twenty years ago, the legendary French footballer of Algerian origin Zinedine Zidane, by two head-butts, allowed France to win its first star: now it is thanks to 4 goals including one from the 19-year-old Kylian Mbappé of Algerian and Cameroonian origins, and one from Paul Pogba of Guinean origin that the country has earned its second star. As if by magic, Emmanuel Macron, seemed to have forgotten his criticism towards African women, as he congratulated the very talented N’golo Kanté, from a family of 9 children.

Right after the match, thousands and thousands of French people gathered on les Champs Elysées, also known as the world’s most beautiful avenue, in Paris. Much like in 1998, these people, fitted with tricolor flags and football shirts came to celebrate this historic victory. Feast days have the gift of gathering people, no matter the differences that usually oppose them. For the first time in months, French people gathered themselves in order to express their joy and not their sorrow.

Many comments have been made on social media, especially on twitter accusing French people of color of celebrating a country that oppresses them. Theses comments, in addition to be hypocritical are also completely out of topic. Indeed, many of the people who are accusing French POC to defend their oppressors were strangely quiet when French people of color were denouncing police brutality in France by asking for help on social media. Although, I would like to highlight the fact they were actually rooting for a team which represents them like they have never been before.

As a French girl of Ivorian diaspora, and growing up in France, a predominantly white country, I rarely had the opportunity to witness this much diversity in any field if not sports. This team composed of 19 players of African origins, all talented the ones more than the others, is the team that we, sons and daughters of immigrants, have decided to support because they represent us, our struggles and our dreams. Today, we are celebrating these young men who have managed to embrace their double identity, who have managed to overcome the difficulties encountered in a country that tries to disguise us. By realizing their dream, these football players are bringing hope to a whole new generation, who, contrary to their precursors in 1998, are aware that the fight towards equality and reconnaissance doesn’t end in the euphoria of the moment but starts there. As a young Black woman, I aim at celebrating these players, because I recognize myself as well as my brothers, my cousins and my friends in them. They are putting the spotlight on us, children of the African diaspora who keep doing so much for a country which doesn’t thank us back.

This World Cup is ours and us, French POC, have every right to celebrate it.

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