Sunday, November 13, 2005

The Paris riots in retrospect

It's both easy and hard to really reflect on what went down in France. It's easy because the song remains the unrest, one incident of police brutality, and then riots. It reminds of the Watts riots back in the 60s. It's all pretty simple when you think about it.

But it's hard because I don't really understand France. At the same time, there's the whole issue of immigration, and the social conditions of immigrants and then there is that one thing people don't want to talk about, that ugly thing known as racism.

There is common ground however between what people experience here and what is going on in France. Take the analysis from ABC News:

Difficult Integration: Because of the difficulty integrating into French society, many young males of African and Arab descent work for the lowest wages and often live in ghettos where crime is rampant.

As usual, life is a bytch. Also, like here in the US, you got your gentrification:

As in many cities around the world, Paris rents have gone through the roof. As a result, many people have been forced to move out or shack up in dilapitated buildings. Last year more than 100,000 people competed for 12,000 available subsidized housing units in Paris, according to official figures. Among the hardest-hit without housing are immigrants (legal and illegal.) The three back-to-back Paris fires over the spring and summer, which killed many children, occurred in such rundown buildings.

I guess I could go on about how messed life is in France for the African and Arabian people. It all boils down to this: in situations like the LA Riots, or the Watts Riots, this has been a product of anger just simmering. Like the Paris riots, the LA Riots didn't happen just out of the blue. They resulted from years of police brutality, bad schools, problems with gangs, drugs, and crime. People I think tend to act like this stuff results from flaws of the people, that they are inferior, immigrants, and "savages".

In a nutshell, things are messed up for these people, and this is a reaction to the situation. How can anybody expect an oppressed, abused minority to not react to their situation in such a way?

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