02:34:58 amCategories: Politics, Distinctions

“Liberté, Égalité, tes papiers!”

Blonde and blue-eyed as I am, I’m not treated as an immigrant here. I often think of my privileged position and how much better I’m treated than many of the locals. While the kids in Clichy-sous-Bois, and elsewhere, are asked for identity papers up to four times daily, I’ve never ever been asked for mine. That’s really lucky, because it’s actually obligatory to carry an id card here, and I always forget mine…

Last night I got reminded of the sheer sickening injustice of this once more. I found myself in the awkward situation of being on a bus… with a bike instead of a valid ticket, and as usual, without identity papers. But, as I’m not a black woman – which was the unfortunate case for another passenger – I didn’t have to first cry as the nazi looking brute of a ticket controller loudly threatened to bring her to the commissariat since she didn’t have her papers on her, and then, put up forced giggles as the brute found it suitable to use his powerful position to try to chat her up instead of bringing her in. No, that was not what happened to me. I gave the brute a ticket from earlier in the evening and hoped for the best. Apparently everything was all right. Then he asked whose bike it was, and after a little back and forth (lasting maybe 30 sec) he said; “I’m just telling you it’s not allowed with bikes here”.

My company all had their season tickets, which however was not valid for the zone we were. But as they were neither female, nor black, there wasn’t any need to fine and harass them… For all the other passengers in the bus it must have seemed like the four of us had valid tickets, which wasn’t the case with none of us. The incident with the black lady dragged on for the better part of the quite long bus ride, and on our way we passed a stop named “Nouvelle France”. We found that very, very symbolic indeed, and one of them suggested that I write a blog post on what had happened with the title “New France”. I replied that I for months had planned to write about this subject, as this was not the first time I experienced such things.

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