Aya Nakamura, the pop superstar at the centre of a Paris Olympic racism storm

Pintu

Full Member
Joined
Apr 12, 2015
Messages
4,312
Location
Sweden


France

Aya Nakamura, the pop superstar at the centre of a Paris Olympic racism storm
Outrage from the far right over rumours of a performance at the opening ceremony has exposed deep divisions in France

Angelique Chrisafis in Paris and Anissa Rami
Sat 16 Mar 2024 05.00 GMT
Share


She is the most listened-to French singer in the world, whose relentlessly catchy hits about love and betrayal have been streamed 7bn times and who made history last year when she sold out three Paris gigs in 15 minutes.

But Aya Nakamura, France’s biggest pop superstar who is known for her unique French style influenced by Afrobeats and Caribbean zouk, called out racism and ignorance this week after far-right politicians expressed outrage over the possibility that she could sing at the Paris Olympics.

The Paris prosecutor opened an investigation on Friday into alleged racist abuse against the singer during the Olympics row. A complaint had been filed by the France-based International League against Racism and Antisemitism.
Emmanuel Macron is yet to confirm that he wanted Nakamura to headline the Olympic opening ceremony, singing hits by the 1950s cabaret legend Édith Piaf. But complaints by rightwing politicians and TV pundits that Nakamura was somehow not French enough have exposed deep faultlines of racism and class prejudice that threaten to cast a shadow over the Games.
Rachida Dati, the culture minister, warned against “pure racism”, and Lilian Thuram the former French footballer said: “When people say Aya Nakamura can’t represent France, what criteria do they base it on? I know the criteria, because when I was a footballer, some also said this isn’t the French team because there are too many Blacks.”
Nakamura, 28, grew up on a housing estate in the northern Paris banlieue suburbs of Seine-Saint-Denis, exactly the communities that the Paris Olympics has promised to showcase and celebrate. Born Aya Danioko in Mali, she arrived in France as a baby. She lived in Aulnay-sous-Bois with her siblings and mother who was a griotte, a traditional Malian poet or singer. She took the stage name Nakamura from the superhero drama Heroes and was talent-spotted after posting songs online aged 19. Her unflinching lyrics on love and relationships, which she writes on her phone, quickly gathered a huge following.


The Olympic village under construction in the Seine-Saint-Denis suburbs in Paris, where Nakamura grew up.
Photograph: Ed Alcock/The Guardian


French music critics argue that no other female singer in French history – not even Piaf in her postwar stardom – has had Nakamura’s global reach, with fans on every continent, across all classes, backgrounds, ages. Her best-known song, Djajda, has had close to a billion streams on YouTube alone. Her music is resolutely French, influenced by French-Caribbean zouk pop from Guadeloupe and Martinique, mixing in Afropop beats. But while some big French export bands, such as Daft Punk, preferred to sing in English, Nakamura has built a huge global fanbase singing in French.
When politicians, including the rightwing senate leader, Gérard Larcher, this week attacked Nakamura for poor French because she used slang, other singers shot back that she was part of a long tradition of artists playing on the French language, from the poet Baudelaire to the musician Serge Gainsbourg. The singer Princess Erika said: “These people saying she doesn’t speak French, where do they live? Because Aya speaks not just a poetic French, but the French of young people.” Nakamura told a TV show last year: “There are so many people who speak like me, and there are young people who understand me.”
Mekolo Biligui, a rap journalist, said: “This row says a lot about what racism is in France. It’s not the first polemic of its kind. When the rapper Youssoupha was chosen by the French football team to record their anthem for the Euro 2021, there was a polemic by the far right. When the rapper Black M was due to perform at the centenary of the battle of Verdun, there was a polemic fed by the right. It’s starting to be a long list. What these performers have in common is they are Black. In France, there is a problem with Black artists. For a long time, France knew how to hide its racism. Here the country can no longer hide it.”
She said that on TV debates this week, Nakamura, a pop singer, was being wrongly labelled a rapper just because she was Black.
“My measure of how popular an artist is in France is when they start being played at weddings,” Biligui said. “You hear Nakamura played absolutely everywhere, particularly at weddings because she is so popular, she is the soundtrack to all parts of people’s lives … There is a classist element to criticising her French just because she includes slang. The vivacity of the French language is that it has always contained a lot of slang, from different towns and regions, north and south, and particularly in the melting pot of Paris … This row is trying to reduce Nakamura to the fact she comes from a working-class neighbourhood and is of African heritage. But in fact she’s totally of her time and absolutely part of French culture: she is influenced by zouk, Afro-Caribbean pop music from Martinique and Guadeloupe, which is France. Her music is 100% French.”


Aya Nakamura on the cover of Vogue. Photograph: Courtesy of Condé Nast

Christelle Bakima Poundza, is an author and critic whose recent book, Corps Noirs, on Black women in French fashion, examined how Nakamura’s award-winning, bestselling cover of French Vogue in 2021 was a first for a French Black artist. She cautioned that the Vogue cover came relatively late in Nakamura’s career, and she had had far fewer magazine covers in France than other white singers, despite selling millions of records.
Bakima Poundza, who last year hosted the first gathering of cultural criticism on Nakamura, welcomed a potential Olympics performance and felt the political class had been too slow to stand up for Nakamura against the far right: “She is the first artist who really represents everyone, listened to by all generations – the only artist who could allow France to present an open, diverse, generous and multicultural image. And yet France can’t even defend that image at home.”
Bakima Poundza saw the row over Nakamura as the latest attack on visible Black women in France, from abuse of the former justice minister Christiane Taubira when she spearheaded the same-sex marriage law in 2013, to the politician Rachel Keke in 2022. She said it added to the sense of a “hostile climate” for French people of colour, after a year in which there was unrest over the police shooting of a 17-year-old boy, Nahel, of Algerian descent, and a hardline immigration bill. She said it sent a message to others: “Don’t exist or represent France, or this is what will happen to you: harassment.”
It is still uncertain whether Nakamura will perform at the Olympics, but the Paris organising committee is trying to limit the damage from the row. “We are very shocked by the racist attacks against Aya Nakamura,” it said. “Total support to the most listened-to French artist in the world.”
 

Siorac

Full Member
Joined
Sep 1, 2010
Messages
23,843
Never heard of her but I give my blessings for her to perform at the Olympics. You're welcome, everyone.
 

The Corinthian

I will not take Mad Winger's name in vain
Joined
Dec 10, 2020
Messages
12,088
Supports
A Free Palestine
France being racist? Well I never...
 

The Corinthian

I will not take Mad Winger's name in vain
Joined
Dec 10, 2020
Messages
12,088
Supports
A Free Palestine
It's a certain section of the country but feel free to take the pathetic generalization route.
9 in 10 Black people in mainland France say they are victims of racist discrimination (lemonde.fr)

A new and alarming report on racism has been published in France. On Wednesday, February 15, the Representative Council of France's Black Associations (CRAN) will present to the Assemblée Nationale its second evaluation of the perception and experience of discrimination against Black people in France. This survey by the global market research company Ipsos was conducted among a sample of 807 French people representative of the Black population or mixed-race population of Black descent.
The study reveals that 91% of respondents in mainland France answered that they had been victims of racial discrimination "often" or "from time to time," and 85% stated that they had been victims of discrimination based on skin color. "The absolute and widespread nature of the phenomenon is particularly striking. We see the progression of hateful ideas on the internet and in public debate," said Patrick Lozès, CRAN founder and its first president. He highlighted the rise of racist speech in recent months, in particular during the 2022 presidential campaign.
I don't need to say that every French person is not a racist as that's obvious, but France does have a problem. This, and the Islamophobic rhetoric in France is a big issue. To deny that is akin to burying your head in the sand.
 

Moby

Dick
Joined
May 20, 2011
Messages
51,356
Location
Barcelona, Catalunya
9 in 10 Black people in mainland France say they are victims of racist discrimination (lemonde.fr)



I don't need to say that every French person is not a racist as that's obvious, but France does have a problem. This, and the Islamophobic rhetoric in France is a big issue. To deny that is akin to burying your head in the sand.
No one is denying the issue of racism in France and it's possible to address that without painting the entire population of the country as racist. Having lived there for years I can tell you easily that majority of the people don't fall under the allegation that you're making and are more welcoming to foreigners (including countless Muslims) compared to what I've seen in other countries. You can try and be a bit more accurate when addressing an issue such as this.
 

The Corinthian

I will not take Mad Winger's name in vain
Joined
Dec 10, 2020
Messages
12,088
Supports
A Free Palestine
No one is denying the issue of racism in France and it's possible to address that without painting the entire population of the country as racist. Having lived there for years I can tell you easily that majority of the people don't fall under the allegation that you're making and are more welcoming to foreigners (including countless Muslims) compared to what I've seen in other countries. You can try and be a bit more accurate when addressing an issue such as this.
I didn't paint the entire population as racist.

Here's what I said:

France being racist? Well I never...

It's a tongue in cheek remark that speaks to their wider race problem (which you also attest to).
 

Moby

Dick
Joined
May 20, 2011
Messages
51,356
Location
Barcelona, Catalunya
I didn't paint the entire population as racist.

Here's what I said:

France being racist? Well I never...

It's a tongue in cheek remark that speaks to their wider race problem (which you also attest to).
Yeah and that implies that there's a correlation between the nationality and the act of racism which is incorrect and unfair.
 

The Corinthian

I will not take Mad Winger's name in vain
Joined
Dec 10, 2020
Messages
12,088
Supports
A Free Palestine
Yeah and that implies that there's a correlation between the nationality and the act of racism which is incorrect and unfair.
It wasn't a serious comment.
 

The Corinthian

I will not take Mad Winger's name in vain
Joined
Dec 10, 2020
Messages
12,088
Supports
A Free Palestine
Ok so a joke about being French likely means being racist. Expect better than that.
You expect better than that from me? Have you never read any of my posts before?
 

golden_blunder

Site admin. Manchester United fan
Staff
Joined
Jun 1, 2000
Messages
121,335
Location
Dublin, Ireland
It's a certain section of the country but feel free to take the pathetic generalization route.
When I worked for a company that offered support in French, one of our lads was not native French but Moroccan French. The abuse he used to take from Parisians in particular was shocking
 

Cheimoon

Made of cheese
Scout
Joined
Jun 22, 2020
Messages
14,417
Location
Canada
Supports
no-one in particular
When I worked for a company that offered support in French, one of our lads was not native French but Moroccan French. The abuse he used to take from Parisians in particular was shocking
There is also a big element of cultural snobbery in that. Like those right-wingers saying Aya Nakamura French doesn't sing in proper French, French-Canadian accents are also dismissed as boorish.

That's not to downplay the racism btw.
Ok so a joke about being French likely means being racist. Expect better than that.
What joke about 'being French'? He said 'France being racist', which refers to the country as a whole, not nationality - you've brought that into the discussion yourself. And while that expression is anyway too sweeping, it's also common shorthand for something like 'France has a pervasive problem with racism'. You're being pointlessly oversensitive here.
 

Moby

Dick
Joined
May 20, 2011
Messages
51,356
Location
Barcelona, Catalunya
What joke about 'being French'? He said 'France being racist', which refers to the country as a whole, not nationality - you've brought that into the discussion yourself. And while that expression is anyway too sweeping, it's also common shorthand for something like 'France has a pervasive problem with racism'. You're being pointlessly oversensitive here.
For me there's a massive difference between the first and the second, and like I said it was a needless generalization which is disrespectful when referring to an entire country. It's easy for an outsider to just read the headlines on islamophobia and other issues and conclude that it's something that is caused throughout the country while the reality is obviously far more concentrated to those specific problematic part of the population while the majority of the population not contributing to it whatsoever. For me that's important to be acknowledged when you are addressing to an entire group of people of a country (which one should pretty much never do anyway). Like I said, I've interacted directly with countless people of the country as a foreigner and I have enough experience to not let "France" be accused of being a racist country. That should have been obvious for most.
 

The Corinthian

I will not take Mad Winger's name in vain
Joined
Dec 10, 2020
Messages
12,088
Supports
A Free Palestine
For me there's a massive difference between the first and the second, and like I said it was a needless generalization which is disrespectful when referring to an entire country. It's easy for an outsider to just read the headlines on islamophobia and other issues and conclude that it's something that is caused throughout the country while the reality is obviously far more concentrated to those specific problematic part of the population while the majority of the population not contributing to it whatsoever. For me that's important to be acknowledged when you are addressing to an entire group of people of a country (which one should pretty much never do anyway). Like I said, I've interacted directly with countless people of the country as a foreigner and I have enough experience to not let "France" be accused of being a racist country. That should have been obvious for most.
I mean there's no 'racist' country. How could you even determine that?

France definitely has a race problem, and an Islamophobia problem. Whether you were directly affected by it is inconsequential and anecdotal.

I mean, the fact that 91% of black people living in France have encountered race based prejudice is shocking enough and should inform you of the size of the issue in France.
 

Moby

Dick
Joined
May 20, 2011
Messages
51,356
Location
Barcelona, Catalunya
I mean there's no 'racist' country. How could you even determine that?

France definitely has a race problem, and an Islamophobia problem. Whether you were directly affected by it is inconsequential and anecdotal.

I mean, the fact that 91% of black people living in France have encountered race based prejudice is shocking enough and should inform you of the size of the issue in France.
Not just me, I was a part of an entire community that had people from Asia, Middle East, Latin America and Africa and I witnessed everyone around me as well. It's anecdotal yet years of experience of living in the actual country in question and not reading headlines on the internet in your case.

As for facing a race based prejudice, that's not indicative of the percentage of the population of the entire country who have contributed towards race based prejudice. In any scenario for a foreigner living in any country they'd have faced some race based prejudice as there's always those parts in every society, yet that's not a basis to brush that entire society.

Either ways mate, it was a fairly obvios sweeping generalization that you admitted to, and then talked of as a 'non serious' whatever, which is a bit out of place in this forum, so not really a hill to die on. It's an honest error, but I wouldn't double down and try to make a case against the majority of the population of France when it comes to racism. And I'm a bit worried at this point that it wasn't really an honest error in that comment and there's an underlying sentiment where you do indeed feel like it's fair to assume that there's more chance of an average french person of being racism/islamophobic than not.
 

The Corinthian

I will not take Mad Winger's name in vain
Joined
Dec 10, 2020
Messages
12,088
Supports
A Free Palestine
Not just me, I was a part of an entire community that had people from Asia, Middle East, Latin America and Africa and I witnessed everyone around me as well. It's anecdotal yet years of experience of living in the actual country in question and not reading headlines on the internet in your case.
And yet, this is still anecdotal. I've never lived in France, but I've been there more times than I can count, and I've also never experienced any racism there. That doesn't mean it doesn't happen or exist.

The article in question is from a month ago and is wholly relevant to the discussion in a thread talking about racism in France.

As for facing a race based prejudice, that's not indicative of the percentage of the population of the entire country who have contributed towards race based prejudice. In any scenario for a foreigner living in any country they'd have faced some race based prejudice as there's always those parts in every society, yet that's not a basis to brush that entire society.
I don't even know what you're getting at with this sentence? I think you're saying the fact that some have faced racism doesn't tell us how much of the society is racist? In any case, it's not this thread or that article in isolation that we're getting at here. And again, I said in one of my first posts it's not to say that every single person in France is racist, as that is absurd. But France does have a race problem. That's undeniable.

Either ways mate, it was a fairly obvios sweeping generalization that you admitted to, and then talked of as a 'non serious' whatever, which is a bit out of place in this forum, so not really a hill to die on. It's an honest error, but I wouldn't double down and try to make a case against the majority of the population of France when it comes to racism. And I'm a bit worried at this point that it wasn't really an honest error in that comment and there's an underlying sentiment where you do indeed feel like it's fair to assume that there's more chance of an average french person of being racism/islamophobic than not.
Again, it's not a serious post for the reasons Cheimoon and I outlined - but my follow up posts subsequently explain my position, (and I feel like I'm repeating myself here) - that France does have a race problem.

Discrimination has been a social issue for several decades and seems to intensify as the economy deteriorates. Periods of crisis are often marked by a surge in racist and xenophobic sentiments, and when questioned in March 2021, a good part of the French population felt that racism and religious discrimination were widespread phenomena.

Opinion on racism spread in France 2021 | Statista
France faces court action over widespread use of racial profiling | France | The Guardian

This killing of a 17 year old kicked off a spate of riots and protests as it spoke to that problem with race.
 

Cheimoon

Made of cheese
Scout
Joined
Jun 22, 2020
Messages
14,417
Location
Canada
Supports
no-one in particular
Again, it's not a serious post for the reasons Cheimoon and I outlined - but my follow up posts subsequently explain my position, (and I feel like I'm repeating myself here) - that France does have a race problem.

Discrimination has been a social issue for several decades and seems to intensify as the economy deteriorates. Periods of crisis are often marked by a surge in racist and xenophobic sentiments, and when questioned in March 2021, a good part of the French population felt that racism and religious discrimination were widespread phenomena.

Opinion on racism spread in France 2021 | Statista
France faces court action over widespread use of racial profiling | France | The Guardian

This killing of a 17 year old kicked off a spate of riots and protests as it spoke to that problem with race.
I suppose you meant 'racism problem' there. :)

Apart from that, this is all predominantly about overt racism, without even getting into institutional racism. Yes, sure, not all French are racist, not all communities (geographically and demographically, and intersections therefore) are similarly affected, and so on and so forth. But the basic point remains: France has a pervasive issue with racism.

That's also what the OP is about. Could we focus on that instead of arguing semnatic about how @The Corinthian should have phrased his initial post?
 

4bars

Full Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2016
Messages
5,282
Supports
Barcelona
Great almost 1 season. Terrible rest.

But not as terrible as the racists in this article.
One of the best shows ever till season 2 chapter 6-7 (don't recall). Then writers strike and went very bad
 

VorZakone

What would Kenny G do?
Joined
May 9, 2013
Messages
33,683
I suppose you meant 'racism problem' there. :)

Apart from that, this is all predominantly about overt racism, without even getting into institutional racism. Yes, sure, not all French are racist, not all communities (geographically and demographically, and intersections therefore) are similarly affected, and so on and so forth. But the basic point remains: France has a pervasive issue with racism.

That's also what the OP is about. Could we focus on that instead of arguing semnatic about how @The Corinthian should have phrased his initial post?
Out of curiosity, what's the problem with pointing out the phrasing? We do that all the time.

If someone mentions the Rochdale or Huddersfield grooming gang or the Rotherham scandal, you rightly can't just say "British Pakistanis grooming? Well I never...".
 

Moby

Dick
Joined
May 20, 2011
Messages
51,356
Location
Barcelona, Catalunya
That's also what the OP is about. Could we focus on that instead of arguing semnatic about how @The Corinthian should have phrased his initial post?
Sure but just to clear my response and position isn't to be pedantic about semantics and phrasing, the only reason I responded perhaps strongly there is when I read someone saying "France being racist", while definitely acknowledging that there is an absolutely visible issue of racism in France and that is massively concerning and needs to be addressed, it also is interpreted as French people in general being accused of causing this issue, and in the end that translates into reciprocating the sentiment towards people who are not contributing into it whatsoever and that's just as problematic as racism. For me, it's important to point out that should not be encouraged in a broader sense and not only focussing on one comment which was my point here. And again to clarify my position as clearly as possible, when I read a comment like that as an initial response it definitely feels like resentment on display and not correctly directed either. Which isn't healthy or constructive to a discussion, less so in practice in real life.

To take an analogy, if someone watches a video of a racist white guy in the US asking a POC to leave the country or whatever, and the initial reaction is 'white people being racist', you'd be justified to point out the generalization as being unfair to an entire demographic, a huge chunk of which are against the said issue and have been acting to eradicate it. It is a similar situation in this case, and in respect to the thread topic, it talks about specific individuals who are guilty of being racist and that's what any blame should be directed to. Just to nip this in the bud.
 

Cheimoon

Made of cheese
Scout
Joined
Jun 22, 2020
Messages
14,417
Location
Canada
Supports
no-one in particular
Out of curiosity, what's the problem with pointing out the phrasing? We do that all the time.

If someone mentions the Rochdale or Huddersfield grooming gang or the Rotherham scandal, you rightly can't just say "British Pakistanis grooming? Well I never...".
Yes - but it's been like 10 posts now and @The Corinthian has already admitted to that original comment being too sweeping. So this is now entirely pointless, time to finish this part and return to the actual subject.

In my opinion, anyway. I'm not a mod of course.
 

Paul the Wolf

Score Predictions Competition Organiser
Joined
Apr 17, 2014
Messages
18,117
Location
France - can't win anything with Swedish turnips
Yes - but it's been like 10 posts now and @The Corinthian has already admitted to that original comment being too sweeping. So this is now entirely pointless, time to finish this part and return to the actual subject.

In my opinion, anyway. I'm not a mod of course.
But he's continued to add to it. Having lived all my life in either the UK or France one of the two, I know which one is the most....

The opening article is about the far-right Zemmour (French equivalent of Braverman in the UK) a second generation immigrant Algerian Jewish/Arab who thinks he's more French than anyone else and the usual suspects, Maréchal , the niece of Le Pen and their clan plus some gammons like Farage, (Larcher in France). All so predictable out to cause problems and stir up hatred. Most people couldn't give a toss who's singing.
 

the_cliff

Full Member
Joined
Sep 4, 2013
Messages
5,917
But he's continued to add to it. Having lived all my life in either the UK or France one of the two, I know which one is the most....

The opening article is about the far-right Zemmour (French equivalent of Braverman in the UK) a second generation immigrant Algerian Jewish/Arab who thinks he's more French than anyone else and the usual suspects, Maréchal , the niece of Le Pen and their clan plus some gammons like Farage, (Larcher in France). All so predictable out to cause problems and stir up hatred. Most people couldn't give a toss who's singing.
Algerian jewish/berber, I know it's a minor difference but it is different. I would just like to point out as well that he's one of the children of immigrants that left Algeria during the reign of French Algeria who was given French nationality (as jews were given the nationality and rights of French people, whereas the Muslims weren't).

His party is named Reconquête which basically says it all really.
 

RedDevilQuebecois

New Member
Joined
May 27, 2021
Messages
8,256
Never heard of her but I give my blessings for her to perform at the Olympics. You're welcome, everyone.
Same sentiment. If she is that good, then she deserves the right to perform like anyone else.

Allez manger de la merde, bande de racistes
 

Paul the Wolf

Score Predictions Competition Organiser
Joined
Apr 17, 2014
Messages
18,117
Location
France - can't win anything with Swedish turnips
Algerian jewish/berber, I know it's a minor difference but it is different. I would just like to point out as well that he's one of the children of immigrants that left Algeria during the reign of French Algeria who was given French nationality (as jews were given the nationality and rights of French people, whereas the Muslims weren't).

His party is named Reconquête which basically says it all really.
Yes Algeria was a part of France back then like the colonies of the British Empire.
 

TwoSheds

More sheds (and tiles) than you, probably
Joined
Feb 12, 2014
Messages
13,151
Mobys being Dicks? Well I never...
 

Pintu

Full Member
Joined
Apr 12, 2015
Messages
4,312
Location
Sweden
Aya Nakamura at the Olympics, “an additional provocation from Emmanuel Macron”, for @MLP_officiel. “He must get up every morning wondering how he is going to humiliate the French people!

 

Cheimoon

Made of cheese
Scout
Joined
Jun 22, 2020
Messages
14,417
Location
Canada
Supports
no-one in particular
The racists are really chomping at the bit to make sure everybody sees them as such for this one.
 

africanspur

Full Member
Joined
Sep 1, 2010
Messages
9,322
Supports
Tottenham Hotspur
Aya Nakamura at the Olympics, “an additional provocation from Emmanuel Macron”, for @MLP_officiel. “He must get up every morning wondering how he is going to humiliate the French people!

Definitely nothing to do with racism, nothing to see here.....