Republican Antiracism and Racism

A Caribbean Genealogy

in French Politics, Culture & Society
Author:
Laurent Dubois Michigan State University

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In the Département d’Outre-Mer of Guadeloupe, a schoolteacher named Hugues Delannay presents me with a conundrum that has preoccupied him for a long time. He has been teaching in a lycée for over twenty years in Basse-Terre, the island’s capital, and has had many brilliant students who, when they take their baccalaureat examinations, get mixed results. Normally, they excel on the written portions of the examination. Consistently, however, they do worse on their oral examinations, which drags down their grades. Why? It is not that their speaking skills are not up to par—far from it, he tells me, these students are articulate and speak impeccable French. There is, according to Delannay, a simpler, and ultimately more disturbing explanation. The examiners who give these students low grades in their oral examinations almost always come from metropolitan France.

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