Episode 11: Kévi Donat - "Why are there so many Black people in Paris?"

“Why are there so many Black people in Paris?” Believe it or not, Kévi Donat gets asked that question a lot.  And he usually has a response.

That’s a good thing since he’s the founder of Le Paris Noir, a Paris walking tour company that provides clients with an opportunity to see the city of lights from a Black perspective.

We met first met Kévi’ in 2017 when he was featured on The Black Expat. Then, the Martinique raised Parisian discussed why he created his company, Le Paris Noir, to address the gaps in French history. Now at the end of 2020, he’s sharing his thoughts on what’s the same and what’s the change since we last spoke. A lot has been happening in France when it gets comes to cultural identity and we take dive into that conversation.  We also explore the immigrant landscape, why the word (and idea of) multiculturalism can be a threat, and the increasing visibility of Black French stories.

You can view Kévi’s original interview: https://theblackexpat.com/le-paris-noir-kevi-donat/

You can also learn more about his work here: leparisnoir.com.

Below are some excerpts from Amanda’s conversation with Kévi.  

Representation

If you talk about cultural representation. If you talk about what you see on tv. If you talk about what you see in movies, then the presence of Black people in French pop culture is bad. Really to the point that if you’re my age, and I’m in my 30s, and you grew up watching French TV and American TV, you’d be kind of ashamed of French TV. I know, of course, there’s a lot of racism in America, but at the same time, I grew up watching the Fresh Prince of Bel Air and I had examples of young, Black people doing cool stuff. Doing their own things and being unapologetic. You never saw that on French tv.

A Cultural Landscape

I think Paris is actually a city where Black people from different parts of the world ... throughout the 1900s [Paris] was a place where [Black people ] could meet and compare their experiences. It wasn’t always easy. There’s been lots of disputes but it’s always been a place where someone from Senegal, would meet someone from Martinique who would meet someone from Chicago who would meet someone from French Guiana, Congo and so on…

Defining Immigrant

It seems to me, a lot of French people, including French politicians, don't know what is an immigrant. To the point that, whenever there are, what you call “urban problems”, people blame it on immigration and immigrants. When immigration, in France, right now, is not so high. They are talking about people of color and for a lot of French people, a person of color is always an immigrant. They will tell you that their country is being taken away by immigrants when the statistics about immigration is not proving that. What they mean is they see people of color around them and it’s challenging them.

To hear the full episode, click below or listen wherever you get your podcasts or listen on The Black Expat YouTube account. 

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