Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Je Suis Désolé

I'm nearing the end of my first semester of my master's in speech-language pathology and I'm about one paper and examination away from a lack-of-sleep induced mental-breakdown. Naturally, I decide to revive this old thing and channel my energies here in the face of my non-compliant study habits.

Its been almost a year now since my time abroad came to end and I've been struggling to maintain any semblance of my French, my curiosity, my joie de vivre. Two words: Netflix. YouTube. Watching French films without subtitles is proving to be nearly impossible but I make myself do it for at least a portion of each film. But after about a few minutes I usually end up saying something like "EUH enough of zis!!" and return to my subtitles.

As far as YouTube is concerned, the music is magnifique. Though I normally prefer the likes of a French John Legend or Regina Spektor type (Coeur de Pirate anyone?), lately, I'm listening to French African hip-hop. One group in particular, Sexion D'Assaut, had a hit last year, right up there with Kesha's Tik-Tok... No, their story is anything but waking up feeling like P-Diddy. It's the story of their struggle, "Paris is like Alcatraz," they sing. The side of Paris my Northwestern dolla dolla billz didn't let me see.

/Please pardon me grandmother/
/I'd have come back and met you if I had more dough/
/But you know it's not easy here either/
/In France, too, we're going through hell/

Now that that's on repeat, maybe it's time to get back to analyzing those phonological speech patterns...

From "colonials" to "immigrants" to "citizens"?

Check out this mini-series by Al-Jazeera on the historical challenges of French Muslims from early 1900s-present day.


In 1904, 5000 Muslims were working in mainland France on shop floors in Paris, in Marseille soap factories, or in the northern coalfields. Back then, no one imagined these workers, brought from North Africa, would stay in France to raise their children and grandchildren.
During the Second World War, 15,000 Muslims lived in Paris, and like all the French the Muslims were faced with a choice: To resist, to collaborate or to keep a low profile-a personal choice influenced by their pre-war political allegience. In late August 1944, Paris was liberated, in part thanks to the sacrifice of 3,000 resistance fighters. How many amonth them were Muslims? We will never know. They were born as North Africans - and they gave their lives for France. But post-war France was to care little for their sacrifice. 
By 1981, Muslims had been working in France for some 75 years. Their children had grown up in the French system at school and with the culture of their motherland at home.

The term French Muslims is both paradoxical and simplistic, but one that marks out those heirs to a particular history within the wider history of the French nation, those who came to build and defend France with little recognition. It means together creating a new country where, through confrontation and conjugation, we learn to shake off our hidebound identities.

Missing my French Muslim friends and their incredibly loving families that continue to ask how I'm doing and wonder about my next visit. Je ne sais pas mes amours :(