I am back from my week in Paris, and I had an enjoyable trip, with a few highlights related to antidiscrimination policy. Last Monday I attended the Y'a Bon awards in Paris. This is an annual event hosted by the organization Les Indivisibles. I was invited by Rokhaya Diallo who was a participant in the conference I organized around Transatlantic Intolerance back in February. The event highlights the most egregious racist statements made in the media by high profile people in France like government ministers and business people. It was interesting to see a different perspective around issues of racism in France, since I am normally spending time with academics, many of whom continue to insist that racism isn't an issue in France. It is also interesting to note that there is a much stronger linkage to issues around racism, discrimination and immigration in France. For example, many of the statements have linkages to the colonial past (e.g., Guerlain's use of the word negre) or Muslim immigrants.
I also attended a conference at the University of Paris (Sorbonne) Law School around the issue of organizations like La Halde, France's main antidiscrimination body, being folded into a human rights body call the Defenseur des Droits. Most of the commentators focused on how this would reduce the effectiveness of the different entities that had focused on discrimination related to gender, sexual orientation, race, and many other grounds. This has clearly been a political process, with the Sarkozy government focusing on this as a "rationalization" of the different entities (i.e., cutting people and budgets), but also reducing the ability of these organizations to "blame and shame" businesses, and even government entities that discriminate. France does not have a legal tradition of class action law suits and they generally do not collect data that would help to support discrimination cases, so this will be a major dilution of the ability to pursue these types of cases.
Other immigration news updates:
The New York Times reports on the Obama administration's focus on employer sanctions: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/30/us/politics/30raid.html
A critique from the Daily Beast of Obama's approach to immigration legislation:
California Assembly vote to limit immigration checks: