Wednesday April 10
At breakfast, a resident asked why I was drawn to this project. I told him I had a keen sense of injustice especially concerning “the other” first expressed at the age of seven when my father forbid me to go to my friend’s house: she was black. Then, I explained my personal interest, the family secret. He didn’t buy it. According to him, I hadn’t been affected. Stunned, I agreed, considering my privileged life. But no. He’s wrong. My father worked tirelessly to overcome his secret heritage, to fit in, to make sure I didn’t get too dark in the summer, to aggrandize his history, to be prejudiced himself as a false means of elevation. Yes, it affected me.
I live in a country whose MO is oppression, destruction of the other: Native Americans, African Americans, any immigrant of color, any non-Christian. The land of opportunity mostly works if you are white and male and, sometimes, if you can pass.
Since last night I had been thinking about violence committed by American police mostly against men of color. While I was enjoying my aperitif, four French soldiers dressed in camouflage, cradling machine guns walked past me. I asked my breakfast companion if he knew what they were doing: he writes about military matters. He said it’s a strategy against terrorism. Small groups of armed military pop up unexpectedly and, by their presence, deter possible attacks, a Macron strategy not entirely embraced his citoyens, (citizens). When I was 21 living in Paris, soldiers with machine guns stood in corners on Boulevard Saint Michel. I was told they were there to protect “us” from Algerians, yet another colonized group.
Thursday April 11
At the end of class, I told the teacher I wouldn’t be returning. She wondered did she speak too quickly. I reassured her. I rushed home, dropped off my books, and met a woman introduced to me by mutual friends. We had a noisy and interesting lunch in the Marais at Miznon, an Israeli import. Afterwards, we meandered along Rue de Montorgrueil, a mostly pedestrianized street in the 2nd, got a cup of coffee at L’Arbre a Cafe, sat on a wall in a small square and continued our conversation from lunch, mostly about the state of the world.
She has a few concerns about life in Paris: people in big cars thinking they own the road, ignoring pedestrians and their safety. I watched her take a few to task and applaud her. She’s also concerned about the yellow vest movement. She understands their situation but believes the destruction in Paris doesn’t make their situation better and abuses a city that is theirs to enjoy. When we parted, she asked how I would get home. Walking, I told her. She directed me to go towards the Seine-her only advice. Without any additional navigational aids, I found my way home.
Friday April 12
Nose to the grindstone. Using the Mediatheque, the library that is part of the Irish Cultural Center, I unsuccessfully searched for the location of Mayotte Capecia’s grave and failed to locate any Caribbean groups. I’ve written to the Christiane Makward the scholar and author of the book, Mayotte Capecia ou l’Alienation selon Fanon and asked for help. A long shot.