While Paris Burned

Living in Paris during the riots definitely reminded me I was not living in the safety of East Lansing anymore. The riots in Paris cannot even compare to the riots in East Lansing. The Paris riots saw the loss of more than just property; many people were injured and in some instances killed. [safety]
Everyday tasks became problematic– taking the train became difficult and dangerous, going to the center of Paris was done with caution, and walking to the store in the early evening was not something I did anymore. Fortunately, the riots have subsided and so has the fear.
When you speak to a Parisian today about the recent riots in France, they tell you it was no big deal. In truth, the French just want to forget about it and move on. However, it is difficult to forget the riots with the thousands of cars that were burned and the schools and government offices that were destroyed. Even the upper-middle class neighborhood where I live was not free from destruction. Nearby, a furniture store and numerous cars were burned.
To end the riots, the government installed curfews and threatened deportation of any non-French citizen who participated in the rioting. The government also promised more after-school activities, as well as trying to lower the unemployment rate in riot-stricken areas. Rates were at an all-time high of 25 percent.
Personally, I think that the French are naïve to believe that this problem will go away. The French have a problem with racism; a problem they refuse to admit. The problem with racism stems from the large amounts of immigration that France has from Northern Africa and other Muslim countries. The immigrants, along with their children, from these countries were the ones who were rioting in France. When I spoke to one of my French colleagues about the riots and racism she told me, “Well you look at them and ask them where they are from. They say they are French and hold out a French identification card showing their French citizenship. Then you think, you don’t look French because you are black or Arab, so you must not be a real French citizen.” I have since learned that this is the mentality of many French citizens. Coming from the country known as “the melting pot” and from a household that stressed the importance of treating people equally, I was shocked by the blatant racism that I was hearing.[racism]
My hope is that the French government will follow through with their promises and work with the immigrants and their children to form better lives. Realistically, this probably will not happen. Elitists, many who can trace their lineage to before the French Revolution, run the French government. These elitists are not looking for change and until something extraordinary happens, the general consensus will not acknowledge the problem of racism and immigration in France.

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