Racist Or Just French? Monoprix


Pour une version française, cliquez ici.

As an American woman of color in France, I notice all sorts of ways this country is lagging behind in its awareness of and sensitivity to racism. For example, my son’s been learning a song in his preschool class, “Les Petits Chinois.” The lyrics loosely translate to, “The little Chinese are like you, but yeah, they’re not like you because they do these weird exotic things like dream about dragons, wear thong slippers on the streets of Hong Kong and draw, instead of write, their language.” (N.B. I’ve taken some artistic license with the translation.)

While this appears to be a classic French kids song, are the teachers even putting it into context? Are they explaining that Chinese kids now wear sneakers and ride in cars (not bikes) to school just like they do in France and this song is an exoticized and inaccurate portrayal of China, especially modern China? Do they not realize how “othering” the song is? If you tell 4-year-olds via a catchy tune that this is China, don’t they grow up believing it until otherwise informed? And who’s going to do the informing? I haven’t decided if I’m going to raise some objections with the school but considering I’ve spent two paragraphs bitching, I probably should.

Which brings me to our new series: Racist or Just French?

In an effort to inform, question and analyze, I am pointing out French things I’ve come across that are at best, clueless, and at worst, racist. (Laziness and stupidity fall somewhere in the middle.) I know most people aren’t actively trying to be racist, but intention doesn’t strip away harm. Read that again: Intention doesn’t strip away harm. Sure, it might feel annoying to have things “constantly” called out as racist. Why are we minorities so sensitive all the time? But you know what’s worse? Being “constantly” surrounded by reminders you’re a second-class citizen because of your ethnicity. These are called microaggressions, btw.

I hope you see this series as I do, a way to start dialogue and have open discussions about race and culture so we do better as a society, especially when teaching the children in our lives, whether we’re parents or not.

Monoprix, I see you’re hopping on the Asian Beauty bandwagon because it was such a hot trend two years ago. Still, I’m happy to see my country get repped and respected by a huge French company like yours. Let’s spread the Korean skincare love.

But wait, I’m a little confused. Almost all the products here are from Korea—which has been the biggest thing in beauty—yet your headline is about the “Land of the Rising Sun.” Um, that’s Japan. Korea is the “Land of Morning Calm.” A quick search would have turned up that information. It’s not that you think Japan and Korea are the same, is it?

Because then you talk about “kawaii-girls.” Kawaii means cute in Japanese. Again, we are not the same country or people nor do we use the same language. It’s easy, though: Korean is spoken in Korea and Japanese is spoken in Japan. Also, Korea and Japan have a long, fraught history so best not to conflate the two.

So far, the main references are Japanese but the products aren’t:

1. Erborian is a very well-known Korean-French collaboration.

2. The Saem sheet masks have Korean words on the package!

3. This is just lazy. You can’t say a product from Maybelline comes “straight from Korea” because it doesn’t. The cushion compact technology does, yes, but Maybelline is as American as they come. (Until L’Oréal bought them.) The copy editor in me is offended.

4. Well, these are cute. We Asians love all things kawaii!

5. Can we PLEASE stop with the geisha references? I don’t dream of having skin like a geisha because I don’t want to look like I’ve slapped chalk dust all over my face. Why not just say, “Dream of having skin like Marcel Marceau?” But if you’re running with the geisha theme (free advice: don’t), show a Japanese product, not a Korean one.

Though I attribute most of Monoprix’s “all look same” tomfoolery to ignorance and sloth on the parts of the copywriter and marketing team, I don’t appreciate the casual interchangeability of Japanese and Korean culture. So casual they didn’t even bother to google the country they’re writing about. (I looked up the date L’Oréal acquired Maybelline because that’s what writers do! 1996.) It’s this kind of everyday negligence that leads to people saying, “Konichiwa” to me on the street, thinking they’re being a cultural ambassador when they’re actually being stupid and offensive. If you’re selling Korean products, don’t reference Japanese culture. Don’t perpetuate the idea that Asia is one country. We don’t go around talking about French paella, do we?

Some due diligence, please. The internet is an amazing tool for knowledge if you want it to be.

What do you think? Is Monoprix racist or just French?

If you have any Racist or Just French stories to share, email me at maggie@leslolos.com. As always, join the conversation in the comments here or over on  FacebookInstagram and Twitter. And please sign up for our newsletter for the most provocative stories from Paris and beyond.


About Author

Maggie Kim

Maggie Kim is a writer, musician and the founder of LES LOLOS.


  1. Avatar

    I have to say I was a bit shocked when my daughter came home singing the same song. I agree with what you say 100%! I think it’s a mix of racism and just being French.

  2. Avatar

    Love this series!! I think “just being French” IS a bit racist!! And they accuse immigrants of not assimilating into French society…well they aren’t very accepting!

  3. Avatar

    That is insane! Shame on Monoprix for this, it’s just lazy marketing. Its very frustrating being teamed with another coutry because of proximity. The British media have a tendancy to “adopt” Irish athletes during sporting events such as the Olympics or even Irish actors during the awards season! “Good luck to British actress tonight, Ruth Negga”! Ruth Negga is Irish Ethiopian with the strongest Mayo accent youve ever heard Resulting in lots of Irish people screaming at the TV! Good article. I have never heard of the childrens song but I’ll be keeping an eye out for it.

    • Maggie Kim

      It really is laziness and not caring because why should it matter that Ireland and Britain are not only different but have had a lot of conflict? Same as Korean/Japan. We’re all the same, aren’t we? Aaaarggghh.

  4. Avatar

    J’aime beaucoup ton article. For many french people, Asia, like Africa, is a whole package. But if I may, I am black (from west indies) I have been in different countries in Asia and I remember that for many people there, I was coming from an undefined place in the world.

    • Maggie Kim

      Merci, Laura. And certainly, racism and ignorance don’t only happen here. I have no doubt in Asia, they were clueless, too. Wouldn’t it be great if we all just knew better?

  5. Avatar

    This series is everything I have wanted to say for the past 5 years. It’s such a relief to know I’m not just imagining it/being a hypersensitive American liberal. Thank you!!

    • Maggie Kim

      Thank you, Kate! No, you’re not imagining things and people saying we are, are just trying to gaslight us. If you ever want to express more, feel free! Despite the clapbacks, I’m continuing the series!

      • Avatar

        I’ve also been here for about 5 years. Found the blog only today though as I was doing some much-needed googling on this topic. The article and your comments which were so lovely and affirming to hear !

        My googling followed an incident this past weekend where I called out a joke some French friends were saying as racist — two white women were imitating African accents and play-fighting about whose hair was better/how much it cost. My jaw HIT THE FLOOR. But when I calmly interrupted to ask “Um ladies, is this really a joke we want to be making?” my comments were met with a deluge of “How dare you call this racist! You are too sensitive and too intense with your politics!” from basically everyone else present (all French), which was very confusing and isolating for me tbh. One of the girls who had made the joke added at one point “Do you know I live near chateau d’eau ?! How dare you say it’s not ok for me to make a joke like that” Which just makes me facepalm with exhaustion.

        After that, your comments on questioning hypersensitivity, imagining things and being gaslight were really helpful to hear and affirming to know I’m not alone ! Thank you <3

        Idea for a later piece …. so what is the blueprint for how we as Americans navigate those situations ? Do we speak up but in doing so risk creating some major tension as well as a situation in which we personally face being gaslight, negated, met with a brick wall etc. ? Or do we say nothing and preserve the peace, but internally feel crummy because the jokes/comments are legitimately racist and we've said nothing ?

        • Maggie Kim

          Hi Johanna, thanks so much for your comment. I’m sorry to hear about what happened with your friends, but also good for you for speaking up. And UGH. White privilege is so hard to get past. IMO, I’d do what you did and speak up. At the very least (unless they’re total racist cretins), they’ll at least pause and think, if only for a few minutes… and perhaps think twice the next time. Silence simply perpetuates injustice. But it’s a great idea for an article. Thank you! I’m going to look into it.

  6. Avatar

    Love this article!!! And I think it is both racist AND French, and the two intertwine frequently.

    I have a marketing background and this copy is ATROCIOUS. This would never fly in the U.S.! Cultural accuracy as well as cultural sensitivity is a MUST when highlighting products that specific to a region/country/people. This ad made me crazy…bouncing from Japanese to Chinese cultural references, completely omitting any reference to Korean culture altogether AND the products are Korean? *FAINTS*

    This is the challenge of what I call the “Faux Intellectual Know It All” which can also be quite racist. This is an educated French person who was raised in what they perceive to be an open, liberal environment. While the may have had some exposure to different cultures, the actual learning (if not a full on cultural immersion program) will often be based on surface level facts…i.e. just enough to say you know, without REALLY knowing.

    I liken it to always being asked if I sing gospel just because I’m African American. The French know African Americans created gospel, but not that all African Americans do not, in fact, sing, let alone sing gospel.

    The person who wrote the copy for this ad felt completely competent and knowledgeable and clearly did not feel the need to research, fact check or run it by anyone who might be an “expert” in Korean culture or beauty products.

    That is very French to assume you know it all, and culturally insensitive to assume you are capable of writing copy without checking your ish first. The topper: someone approved this mess for print and distribution and now thousands across France will think it quite okay to lump all Asian cultures together. Thanks Monoprix.

    Anyhoo, love this article and love this series. Happy to chime in with my deux centimes from time to time!

    • Maggie Kim

      Robin, I love your comment. It is EVERYTHING.

      I am so glad you see how cringeworthy the copy is, just from a professional standpoint! And I’m in total agreement that it’s the faux liberals who are probably the worst in trying to defend inherent systems of bias that benefit them.Bernie Bros

      Of course, it’s French Men who’ve become so angered they’ve had to hit back with, “No, *you’re* racist (or stupid or wrong),” without even taking the time to understand what is being said here. Because they know everything (see comment below, “I don’t know that song so it doesn’t exist.”)

      I can not even with the gospel singing. That is a WTF?! that’s going to make me pull my hair out.

      Thank you SO MUCH for being here and for your thoughtful, intelligent words. If ever you’d like to contribute to the series, I’d be thrilled to have you. X

      • Avatar


        So glad you like the comment and *EEEEEEP*! re: if ever I’d like to contribute to the series, you’d love to have me??? *FAINTS* Thank you for the offer and I’d be delighted to!

        • Maggie Kim

          Yes, I would so love if you did! We can discuss topics, but I imagine anything you find interesting enough to write about, I’d be interested in! X

  7. Avatar
    Some French guy on

    WOW ! Really ? This article is exactly what it is against … As a french guy, I’ve never ever heard any song called “Les petits chinois”.

    Using the same logic, all American are racist because they try to limit the muslims in their country ( thanks Donald).
    Racism is about everywhere in the world (and sadly in France too) but just this new serie is stupid and insulting toward French people.

    Well, won’t do anything debating with someone that could effectively write this (and with such clever comments too).

    • Maggie Kim

      Hello, “Some French Guy,” way to stand up for yourself, and I assume all French people, by hiding behind an anonymous handle. If you “as a french guy” have never ever heard any kids song called “Les Petits Chinois,” it mustn’t exist, right? Because you must know every kids song from when you were 4. That is some rock-solid evidence there, Some French Guy. Especially considering another mother mentioned in the comments how her child also came home singing that song. Do you even have kids to know what songs they’re currently singing in school?

      And DAMN STRAIGHT, many, many Americans (possibly 60M of them, including DUMP and his administration) are hella racist. Nowhere does this article say Americans aren’t. This article, in case it’s not clear, is about the racist experiences I and other POC go through here in France. I’m going to have to attribute it to a lost in translation effect because if you think I’m saying all French people are racist, then you didn’t understand much. But that’s ok, Google Translate is pretty crappy.

      This is so exhausting to repeat, but looks like it must be said again: REVERSE RACISM AND SEXISM DO NOT EXIST. So no, this article is not “exactly what it is against.” That you’re unable to see beyond your anger and indignation that an Asian-American woman dares point out an example of how Monoprix did it wrong shows exactly why articles like these need to be written.

      Finally, you are the third Frenchman who’s come to defend the honour of French people everywhere, but you’re the one who’s done it with the least amount of insults (you should feel proud of that, Some French Guy), which is why I’ve allowed your comment. I hope expressing your absolute ignorance of race and its societal dynamics has made you feel better.

      • Avatar

        ” In its 2014 annual report, published in March 2015, the SPLC counted 784 “active hate groups in the United States”: 72 Ku Klux Klan (KKK) groups, 142 neo-Nazi groups, 115 white nationalist groups, 119 racist skinhead groups, 37 neo-Confederate groups, 21 Christian Identity groups, and 165 “general hate” groups (subdivided into anti-LGBT, anti-immigrant, Holocaust denial, racist music, radical traditionalist Catholic, anti-Muslim, and “other”)). ”
        These groups are LEGAL in the US, not in France !
        I just read this today :
        On Monday, multiple fliers posted by members of Vanguard America ― a white supremacy group ― were found on the University of Maryland Campus.
        “A notice to all white Americans,” one flier read. “It is your civic duty to report any and all illegal aliens. …They are criminals. America is a white nation.”
        Racism is unfortunately everywhere on the planet : Americas, Africa, Asia etc…
        Anti-french racism in America and Britain is called ” french-bashing ” . When France refused to join the USA in the invasion of Iraq we witnessed a Nation wide ” french-bashing” in America, orchestrated by the american government with the help of many politicians, artists, news papers, tv and radio stations. They all insulted the President and the people of France ( and I mean worse than the risible ” freedom fries ” ).
        I am french and I agree with you that there is racism here but you seem to make it a french specialty : ” racist or just french ” sorry but the sentence itself IS racist.
        You live in France, I lived in the States so without boasting I guess I know a little.
        No hard feelings ! Have a good day !

        • Maggie Kim

          Hi Gerard, thanks for your comment. Perhaps it’s a translation issue, but this series isn’t saying or even implying that ONLY the French are racist or ALL French are racist or that Americans are beyond racism or aren’t racist. To the contrary, if you read other stories on the site, you’ll see how FULLY AWARE I am of the racism in the US. I grew up there. I lived it. And the election of this horrible POTUS only underscores how racist America is. I know many people say, “Oh, you can’t call 60M people who voted Dump racist.” Yeah, well I can and do. But that doesn’t mean I can’t point out the racism I and other POC see and experience living in France. It’s not an either/or. And I’ve said it before and will say it again, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS REVERSE RACISM. There is prejudice, yes, but a dominant culture (in this case, white and French) can not and will never experience racism. You are more than welcome to decry the series title as prejudiced or xenophobic—that’s your opinion—but you can not call it racist. Because it’s not. French bashing has to do with xenophobia, not racism.

          I thank you again for your comment, but I do think you’re not getting the full nuance of the article, much as I most likely wouldn’t get the full nuance of a similar piece in French. However, I’m glad you’re here and glad you’re open to discussion. Have a great day, too!

        • Avatar

          so Donald TRUMP bashing Mexico, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, China, France, middle eastern countries etc.. is a french invention ! I’m Learning something everyday.
          so ” cheese eating surrender MONKEYS ” is not racist !
          good news for the french and my african friends and family !
          Peace and Love. END OF STORY.

          • Maggie Kim

            Nope, no it’s not racism. Gerard, you’ve clearly read nothing of Kate’s comment, much less my article. We’re not wasting our time or intelligence on somehow who’s not affording us the same courtesy. What you’re doing is exactly what Dump and his supporters do. Your commenting privileges are revoked. Mediocre men who are idiotic gasbags do not have a place nor get a voice here. You should go back to the States, you’d fit right in with Dump and his followers.

      • Avatar

        Hi Maggie ! I have to say that I was a successful expat living in the 6e arrondissement for several years (now I live in Bordeaux), and for the first time in my entire life, I encountered racism by the “cultured bourgeois” living in my neighborhood. There is racism in America, but I had never seem it so blatant. While walking down the street in Saint-Germain-des-Pres, a well dressed French woman walked by me, and actually made noises like she was speaking an Asian language (in a very mocking way). I had been walking down the street, minding my own business, and this woman walked by me making these noises to my face. I am half Chinese, half caucasian. It was appalling.

        I have now become accustomed to the unfriendly glances by certain people…

        • Maggie Kim

          Oh Tricia, I’m sorry, that’s horrible. I’ve been surprised, too, by some of the people who’ve behaved so appallingly. Well-dressed, seemingly cultured. What bothers me is also the way people try to downplay it, “That’s not racism or that’s not that big a deal, simmer down.” (Which is an argument I’ve gotten over this piece.) When you’re dealing with microaggressions your whole life (as a woman and a POC)—even from a simple marketing flyer—when does it become a big deal? When do we say, Enough? (Clearly, for me, it’s now!)

          • Avatar

            Completely agree with you ! So glad someone is speaking up about this often hidden topic in France.

      • Avatar

        I’m a French mum of 3, my mother in law is Korean and it’s important for me that my kids know about Korean culture. Monoprix campaign is really bad and shows a lot of ignorance… is it racism ? Still a question for me.
        I’m sorry to say that I’ve never heard about the song your writing about. It doesn’t means that it doesn’t exist, but trust me, it’s not a a classic French kids song !
        Isn’t it xenophobia to write “Racist Or just French ?” ? Not all the French are racist, and you seam to suppose that.

        • Maggie Kim

          Thanks for your comment, Marie. I think what underlies the ignorance is where the racism exists. It’s a nuance that’s perhaps not easily understood, just like the title. I don’t believe—not one bit—that all French are racist and that’s not what the title means. But again, it’s a nuance that’s not always evident to a non-native English speaker. I feel a little worse that “Les Petits Chinois” is not a classic kids song! That means it’s a new song that my son (and other kids) are learning about an outdated China? Doesn’t that seem even worse?

  8. Avatar

    Love this article and your breakdown of this piece of absurd, infuriating advertising. Intellectual laziness or flat-out racism: the cause doesn’t matter, the result is the same, mixing up different cultures and languages because whoever wrote/created the campaign couldn’t be bothered to understand the difference themselves. Looking forward to the next piece– sadly you won’t be short of material!

    • Maggie Kim

      Thank you, Mary! You’ve exactly hit the nail on the head: result is the same and they’re spreading this idea to all their customers.

  9. Suzie Roth

    Tangential: During last year’s “Korean Beauty” ad campaign, a Spanish press event for Sephora featured Lucy Paradise. The Spanish (Caucasian, I think?) pop star sang in English but (according to Wikipedia) was into manga and had a Japanese ParaPara group before becoming a K-Pop sensation. Touching on as many demographics as possible — with Spanish, Anglophone, Japanese, and Korean appeal — she’s the whole package…except she’s not Korean…or Japanese. Maybe she had great skin?

    • Maggie Kim

      Well as long as she’s into manga and is a K-pop sensation… that makes me laugh, though, let’s make her the UN of beauty!

  10. Avatar

    Good article – thanks. Having lived in Japan and Hong Kong for a total of 30+ years, I am always bemused and somewhat put out by the ignorance on display in France about matters Asian. Now that I’m here full-time, I notice more and more of these references that both glorify and somehow belittle Asian ways and products. Who IS going to tell the kids that Chinese children are just as hip, if not more so, than kids in the West. And that the Japanese have tech products way before the rest of the world.

    • Maggie Kim

      Thanks, Linda. I’m so glad to hear your POV and yes, that’s the question: Who’s teaching the kids? I said this elsewhere: I’m not interested in censoring problematic songs or books or even ideas, but I do have a problem with not using them as a jumping-off point for discussions about race, gender, equality. I don’t think it’s too young at 4 to point out, This song is about “old China” and here’s what it’s like now. We don’t have to get into a whole “othering” talk at this age but we can try to lesson the inherent exoticism of this song. And how about differentiating the countries in Asia instead of presenting it as a monolith? (so much work to do!)

  11. Avatar

    Thank you for this essay! I don’t even remember how I found it but it makes me feel a whole lot better about the stuff I’m shaking my head over (practically daily) having just moved to Paris. I thought (or rather was told) I was being overly sensitive.
    My french husband (of 15 yrs) has done little to prepare me for the culture shock of France. Maybe that’s a good thing. Nothing like learning a culture (the good and the bad) via the Polar Ice Plunge method.

    • Maggie Kim

      Not oversensitive one bit. I think we don’t react enough sometimes because everyone’s trying to gaslight us into believing it’s not racism. You’re always welcome here, Cathi 🙂

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  13. Avatar

    Really appreciate this well written and thought out article, thank you! As an Asian- American, Korean-American woman to be exact, who has lived on and off in France, I’m shaking my head at the sheer ignorance and laziness of the Monoprix ad. It’s 2017, and there is no excuse for this colonialist/exotica/Asians-are- all-the-same mentality. I highly doubt any French person would clump their entire French-European culture, history, and identity with a German, Swedish, or Dutch. In fact, Europeans are easily quick to point out the unique characteristics and cultural idioms of their own native country. Obvious language differences too- does everyone assume that a French person speaks Dutch? Or every Italian knows German? Come on, Monoprix. The copy on the ad is so back-asswards, it’s embarrassing. Trop embarrassing. They pulled from the Asian stereotype bag, which we all know, stereotypes only perpetuate and contribute to racist thinking and perception. Geishas? “Land of the Rising Sun” on KOREAN made products? Labeling anything cute with colorful little animals from Asia as Kawaii? I understand Japanese culture is a thing in France (hello, palais de Tokyo), but clearly, this ad is blatantly ignoring and dismissing that there’s another Asian country that exists and has its own thing happening. That it is Korean technology and products that are actually on their bourgeois shelves. So, thank you, but no thanks, Monop, on misinforming and encouraging ignorance to all your customers, both young and old. Kinda like marketing California sparkling wine as Champagne. It’s not. Just because it has bubbles and is a similar color doesn’t make it the same thing. Not even close, right? And the French even have laws about what’s officially Champagne. Or a certain cheese. Or whatever French specialty product is oassociated with cultural identity. And damn straight a French person will get into a heated argument with any non-French person about what is REAL Champagne, that if the poor sap doesn’t show knowledge and R.E.S.P.E.C.T. for the bubbly elixir, French person will have no hesitation to ridicule and humiliate poor sap for his stupidity and low cultural IQ. So, what gives, Monop?

    I always had this feeling that Monop was trying so hard to be quasi-hipster with their marketing, but inevitably still stuck with their original colonialist bourgeois mentality. They’ve been around since 1932. (btw, thank you Internet for that info. See, that was SO easy!) There is something about shopping there that cultivates a stench of class leveling. Yeah, they have a pretty wide and convenient selection of products from groceries to maquillage to housewares, and I shop there because of that. But, it’s definitely French. And as an Asian-American, I say that with simultaneous adoration and an eyeball roll.

  14. Avatar

    PS. Want to share another reason why due diligence is necessary, and a simple, seemingly “harmless” ad with racist stereotypes is dangerous for perpetuating ignorance. Because, according to Wikipedia, “Monoprix is present in approximately 85% of all French towns with a population of more than 50,000.” Yup. That’s ALOT of people allover France that can confuse Korea and Japan as the same by this misinformed ad. That’s a lot of French folks that, most likely unconsciously, can perceive that it is totally fine to continue stereotypes and see Asians as all the same. That’s sheer irresponsibility on Monop’s shoulders.

    • Maggie Kim

      Yup. That’s exactly it. Their reach is so far and wide and they’ve now let it be known across France that Korea, Japan and Asia are one big, Kawaii country. And look how easy it was to find out the info about Monoprix! You weren’t poring over microfiches for hours to find it because google and wiki. Sigh.

  15. Avatar

    Thanks a lot for your article !!!
    I’m French, have lived in France most of my life and have noticed quite early in my teen years how “general ignorance” about other cultures (the soft, and lazy, way to be racist) was tolerated and even sometimes claimed by most French people (whatever the skin colour).
    I grew up getting used to that, but not quietly ! And what I realised is the actual problem (to me at least) is not that most people don’t know that “Kawaii” is not from Korean culture, it’s not even really that they make the mistake once.
    The problem is that most of the time, they (we ?) don’t accept to be told that we are mistaken and that this mistake, and the ones coming afterwards, are even more annoying that so much French people brag about how French Culture is open mindedness and French History about Human Rights and Respect for all human beings….

    • Maggie Kim

      Lys, thank you so much for your comment. Lite racism is definitely insidious and what you’re saying is reflected in the comments from other French people (most of which I haven’t approved as they’re filled with insults). It’s sad that instead of actually being open-minded, people say they are while at the same time dismissing and demeaning the lived experiences of minorities. Thank you again for being here!

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  18. Avatar

    Hi Maggie, thanks so much for your article.

    I wish it was translated so I could show it to more of my French friends.

    I really do feel like in France most people think that we are “beyond” the kind of race issues that they have in the US. But it’s not because it’s invisible that there is no problem! I wish we could do race statistics so the problems could become apparent. Yes, it would cause more tension on the short term, but I think it would make things change faster, and begin the process of making people aware of the real consequences of everyday racism.

    • Maggie Kim

      Hi Penelope, thanks for your comment. And the article is translated! On the wonderful l’Afro site: https://lafrolesite.wordpress.com/2017/03/20/tribune-racism-or-just-french-une-americaine-coreenne-questionne-racisme-en-france/

      A friend had posted something from her daughter’s school just the other day. It was the song, “Tchin Tchin les petits Chinois” (ANOTHER song) and there were actually instructions to make your eyes slanted during the song!! This is still going on in 2017 as part of the school curriculum. It’s shocking to me that no one has said anything about it. As my friend pointed out (she’s white, btw), it’s even worse that this casual racism is being taught to our children in school. Hence, this idea that racism doesn’t exist here because there seems to be no concept of what racism is!

  19. Avatar
    natalie poirier on

    “microaggressions” is something invented by spoilt PC Americans who want to be offended about tiny trivialities. out of all minorities it is ONLY thr Americans ones who care about this. some people have experienced real racism in the world. Stop forcing your AMERICAN PC cultural norms on the rest of the world. Americaj privilege is a thing even sometimes if youre not white, you have far too much cultural influence over non-Wmerica countries. arrogant

    • Maggie Kim

      Only an arrogant, spoilt white Frenchwoman could try to school a minority on racism. Check yourself and your white privilege. And stop forcing POC to accept YOUR definitions of what racism is and isn’t. Because you don’t have a fucking clue. Also, spellcheck exists for a reason.

      • Avatar

        I can’t even at the irony of this person’s rant about privilege and hypersensitivity. My hat is off to you Maggie for continuing to take the time to shut these people down, I’d be in a rage blackout!

        • Maggie Kim

          You know I’m your biggest fan, Kate! And as if pointing out “tiny trivialities” (redundant much?) means we haven’t suffered other forms of “real racism.” But people are idiots. And racists. Sadly.

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    I’m Asian American and I’ve lived in Southern France for the past 16 months; since moving from the US, I’ve had at least 10 blatantly racist, unprovoked incidents occur to me (which I haven’t seen for about 25 years now). These range from eye slanting, “ching-chong”-ing, bowing with prayer hands with eye slanting, and hearing “chinois” only to see people quickly turning back over their shoulder from staring at me and laughing with their friends. The demographic ranges from teenagers to middle-class adults. My French husband of 5 years was convinced that it’s because of the city we are in and some particular ignorant inhabitants, and it would be different if we lived in Paris. Clearly not, thank you for this article.

    • Maggie Kim

      UGH, I am so sorry that you’re subjected to this. It’s infuriating and demeaning. I think about the French cultural course I had to take when I was getting my titre de séjour and frankly, I think the French would benefit from a course on racism! Yes, do tell your husband racism is alive and well in Paris, too! And keep on keeping on, sister!

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    As a black girl who is as fench as it gets I’M gonna go ahead and say it : the french are racist.Not all of them but it is way too common.Like,Have you heard of the famous french footballer Antoine Griezann’s black face ? People still use the “we can’t laugh about anything” excuse.Theyre not racist in the mean, “you’re a threat and I want to live separatly”way but in a codescendig way.Like”you’re exotic and funny and I’d love to show you off to my friends during our soirées but I’ll never bother to actually look into your culture because it’s a known fact that the french one is the best’.

    To give an example : When I was in my first year of classe prépa in Paris (elite hardcore class to get into a Grande Ecole) our geography professor assumed the onl asian looking girl in our class was chinese. She actually was half white and half vietnamese. She told her, but everytime any asian country would get mentionned she would expect that girl to give some insightful comment about it. You would think a woman with a freaking phd in geography would know better…
    That type of racism is even stronger with asians because they’re a much smaller community, they complained less than the blacks, and there is less guilt because asian stereotypes are mostly positive. It is changing though especially among the youth.

    I have to say though that sometimes it might get confusing because of the “second-degré” thing. Sometimes, friends joke around by saying the most racist thing to eachother. What’s funny is not the racism but how ridiculous the cliché is, a bit like sarcasm you say the contrary of what you mean and exagerate it to make a poit ? I don’t know if I ‘m being clear.

    Anyway, great article

    • Maggie Kim

      Inès, thank you for your insight as a black girl and a Frenchwoman. Sigh. We still have such a long way to go, don’t we? But we start by having these conversations. Thanks so much for being here, reading and commenting. And I’m looking forward to reading your blog!

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    Hi I’m a Korean girl living in France, I was writing my master’s thesis on Korean beauty products in France, I came across this article by chance. I just wanted to say that as an asian girl in France (even, as a Korean girl in France) I TOTALLY AGREE WITH ALL YOUR POINTS (even other articles!). Anyway….go on Maggie, I’m sure this world will change thanks to people like you.

    • Maggie Kim

      Léa, Thanks so much for your comment. It’s so meaningful to me and I’d love to read your thesis sometime (if you ever want to share)! Let’s all change the world <3

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