Colorblind France

Victoria Baldwin

Authors: Victoria Baldwin, Dr. Sharon Austin

Faculty Mentor:  Dr. Sharon Austin

College:  College of Liberal Arts and Sciences


The 1930s saw a migration of African Americans from the United States to Paris, France in efforts to escape racial inequality. This was a little over a decade post- World War I where a great amount of African Americans were deployed in the French city and opted to settle there once the war was over. Attraction to the country dates back to the French Revolution which held the motto “Liberty, Fraternity, and Equality,” and nineteenth century African American visitors who wrote highly of the country’s race relations. Famous names in the black community that took part in this migration are; writer, poet, and activist James Baldwin and singer, Josephine Baker. France has since banned collecting “race” on official documents and took the word out of their constitution, entirely. While France is viewed as a colorblind country, in this research I will be addressing the validity of this social phenomenon. I will also be analyzing why African Americans were attracted to the country as well as how they, along with other non-white ethnic groups, were treated in France.

Poster Pitch

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21 Responses
  1. James Shepperd

    Just watched your video. Nice work! I watched a PBS documentary on WWI over the last few nights. One on the historians who was interviewed mentioned that, while France was far from non-racists during WWI, the treatment of Black people was demonstrably better in France during that time than in the United States. So, your findings are quite consistent with what the historian presented in the PBS documentary.

  2. Lauren Weinsier

    Hi Victoria! In your methodology you mentioned you gathered information from people who live in France regarding their experiences with race. How exactly did you gather this information? Did you use surveys, questionnaires, interviews or other methods to derive this data? Also, how did you ensure you were receiving this information from a randomly selected sample?

    1. Victoria Baldwin

      I used interviews and discussions to gather this information. They were set up before I got to Paris through my mentor. One was a historian and another was a member of CRAN.

  3. Xinling Tian

    Hi! I firstly want to say nice job on this paper! I did not know that there is a statement of black being more tolerated in France than in the US. Based on my trip to France, I saw very few black people on the street. It is sad to know that France is also racially biased towards black people; however, with the development of this world, I believed racial discrepancy will be better in the future.

    1. Victoria Baldwin

      In France, there was an incident when deciding where to go one night and asking for suggestions we were warned that a certain spot discriminates against black people. I forgot the name of the place, however.

  4. Emily McHugh

    Victoria, your presentation was very well done. You investigated the very impactful topic of racial discrepancies and racism in a country described as being the opposite. This is relevant and raises a necessary discussion. Thank you for this! Great job.

    1. Victoria Baldwin

      I believe there is a stronger dislike for North Africans and Algerians for religious reasons. I feel as though islamophobia plays a part in the attitude towards them as well as the rise of refugees trying to enter the country.

  5. Michael McDonald

    How do you think the treatment of blacks today is different in France because it was an African colonial power versus slavery in the United States?

    1. Victoria Baldwin

      Today in France they try to move past slavery and not bring up the negative effects it had because it did not take place in the actual country. Its definitely being pushed under the rug but there are obvious effects and prejudices. Black people are still subject to police brutality and other injustices just like they are in America, they just try not to talk about it in terms of race.

  6. Angela Lindner

    You did very good work, Victoria. While I know you focused on France, do you think other European countries handle race today similarly to how France does? Thank you for representing UF and Gators so well!

    1. Victoria Baldwin

      France is the only country that took “race” completely out their constitution and does not collect it in their census, However, I do believe they similarly focus more on nationality and discriminate against refugees or Muslim immigrants.

  7. Yian Wu

    Hi Victoria,
    I actually want to ask the same question Lauren asked up there on your information gathering mentioned in your methodology. I read your reply but is still interested in how you chose people you want to have a conversation with. In other words, why did you choose an historian and a member of CRAN?

    Also great job!!

    1. Victoria Baldwin

      Thank you. I wanted to speak to people who had a broad knowledge of the history of black people in the country and keep up with race relations in France.

    1. Victoria Baldwin

      I believe they most likely have, especially after the terrorist attack a few years back and the islamophobia that followed.

  8. William Zelin

    The word “colorblind” frustrates me quite a bit, because it makes the issue of racism into an individual one rather than a systemic one. Thank you for shedding light on the historical record of racism in France and its ongoing effects. Any serious effort to combat racism must be one that acknowledges these historical (and contemporary) problems accurately and honestly, and your research does exactly that. How do you plan on expanding this project in the future? Great work and great job presenting!

    1. Victoria Baldwin

      Thanks. I plan to keep up with CRAN and French news relating to race. Hopefully, as CRAN continues to fight for reparations I can look more in-depth into the arguments and France’s reaction and response to really tell where they stand on race issues as time progresses. I would love to see if their approach changes.

  9. Jessica Krasnove

    Wow! I really liked your project, and your presentation was extremely informative. Great job!

    What made you decide to choose France rather than another country that African Americans migrated to?