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Trevor Noah accused of racism

International Sports

Comedian, Trevor NoahComedian, Trevor NoahThe South African comedian was accused of racism over his comments in a segment on the late night US television programme this week, after France beat Croatia 4-2 in the Russia 2018 final.

While 16 of France’s 23-man squad have African heritage, all but three of the players were born in France, and all three moved to the country with their families at young ages.

Noah’s comments attracted criticism, including an open letter from Gerard Araud, the French Ambassador to the US, on the French embassy Twitter account.

[The France squad pose for a picture with French president Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron at a reception at the Elysee Presidential Palace.

“‘I heard your words about an ‘African’ victory. Nothing could be less true’,” Noah read from Araud’s letter.

“‘As many players have already stated themselves, their parents may have come from another country but the great majority of them … were born in France. They were educated in France; they learned to play soccer in France; they are French citizens.

“‘They are proud of their country, France. The rich and various backgrounds of these players is a reflection of France’s diversity’.”

Pausing to speak to his audience, Noah commented on the letter: “I’m not trying to be an a******, but I think it’s more a reflection of France’s colonialism.”

Noah continued to read the ambassador’s letter: “‘France is indeed a cosmopolitan country, but every citizen is part of the French identity and together they belong to the nation of France.

“‘Unlike in the United States of America, France does not refer to its citizens based on their race, religion or origin. To us, there is no hyphenated identity, roots are an individual reality.

“‘By calling them an African team, it seems you are denying their Frenchness. This, even in jest, legitimises the ideology which claims whiteness the only definition of being French’.”

Noah then defended himself, launching into a thoughtful monologue that lasted several minutes.

“My opinion is … black people all over the world were celebrating the African-ness of the French players. Not in a negative way but in a positive way, as in, ‘Look at these Africans, who can become French,” Noah said.

The South African said it was “weird” to suggest you can’t be both African and French, or that immigrants and their children must erase their African cultures to become French.

“I love those players and I love how African they are and how French they are,” he said. “I don’t take their French-ness away, but I don’t think you need to take their African-ness away.

“That’s what I love about America. America’s not a perfect country, but what I love about this place is that people can still celebrate their identity in their American-ness.”


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