Josephine Baker Day/65e: La seule femme – et Française ! – à avoir eu droit à son discours aux côtés de Monsieur I have a dream lui-même (How colonial Paris totem of primeval sex turned March on Washington only woman speaker gave the world its first Rainbow tribe theme park)

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Josephine Baker and the 'rainbow tribe' in the kitchen at Les Milandes
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Le monde moderne n’est pas mauvais : à certains égards, il est bien trop bon. Il est rempli de vertus féroces et gâchées. Lorsqu’un dispositif religieux est brisé (comme le fut le christianisme pendant la Réforme), ce ne sont pas seulement les vices qui sont libérés. Les vices sont en effet libérés, et ils errent de par le monde en faisant des ravages ; mais les vertus le sont aussi, et elles errent plus férocement encore en faisant des ravages plus terribles. Le monde moderne est saturé des vieilles vertus chrétiennes virant à la folie.  G.K. Chesterton
Comment savoir si nous ne sommes pas en train de distraire le public de la même façon que les zoos humains le faisaient ? Intervenant local d’Exhibit B
Comment être certain que ce n’est pas seulement par curiosité de voir des Noirs que viennent les Blancs ? Intervenant local d’Exhibit
What interests me about human zoos is the way people were objectified. Once you objectify people, you can do the most terrible things to them. But what we are doing here is nothing like these shows, where black people were brought from all over Africa and displayed in villages. I’m interested in the way these zoos legitimised colonial policies. But other than that, they are just a catalyst. (…)  It’s very difficult to get it right. The performers are not asked to look with any anger at all. They must work with compassion. (…) People have said, ‘White boy, you are messing with my culture. You have no right to tell the story of our spiritual practices or our history, because you are getting it all wrong.’ And I can’t defend those works today in the same way I could back then. For all I know, I could look back at Exhibit B in 10 years and say, ‘Oh my God, I am doing exactly what they are accusing me of.’ But that’s the risk you take. It comes with the territory. Brett Bailey
Qu’une exposition au Musée du quai Branly s’attache à nommer les créateurs de la cour royale d’Abomey est important du point de vue de la connaissance historique. Mais surtout d’un point de vue politique et moral, parce que c’est l’une des premières fois qu’une telle tentative est osée en France. Le temps de l’indistinction et de l’anonymat s’achèverait-il enfin? (…) Le temps de l’art « nègre » ou « africain » finit; celui des artistes africains commence. Le Monde
Cette nouvelle et passionnante approche peut s’appliquer aux artistes d’Abomey, parce que les collections françaises sont d’une exceptionnelle richesse. Elles le sont parce que la France a envahi et détruit le royaume d’Abomey en deux guerres, en 1890 et en 1892, et forcé le roi Béhanzin à l’exil. Ses palais ont été pillés et c’est le produit de ces pillages que l’on étudie avec tant d’intérêt. Le Monde
Vous savez, plus l’Etat et nos adversaires se radicalisent, plus on se radicalise. Sihama Assbague
Le programme est construit autour de l’axe du racisme d’Etat et des outils pour y faire face et construire des résistances. Les ateliers et formations serviront à la transmission de connaissances et de pratiques aussi bien pour les militant.e.s d’organisations que pour les personnes voulant s’impliquer de façon plus ponctuelles. Camp d’été décolonial
La logique folle et prétendument «anti-système» qui préside à l’organisation de ce type d’événement [L’organisation de «Paroles non-blanches à Paris 8] est exactement la même qui conduit les identitaires d’extrême droite à l’affirmation d’une France «blanche»: les extrêmes, chacun à leur manière, organisent le séparatisme et véhiculent la même logique d’apartheid. Sous couvert d’antiracisme, notre pays risque de voir émerger des «Ku Klux Klan inversés» où le seul critère qui vaille sera la couleur de peau. Encore une fois, les identitaires testent la République et, par glissements successifs, tentent d’affaiblir ses fondements et ses valeurs. (…) Si nous nous taisons aujourd’hui, alors dans quelques semaines, dans quelques mois, nous verrons apparaître des conférences interdites aux blancs et aux juifs, des écoles privées réservées aux « colored people ». Avec de prétendus héritiers de cette nature, Rosa Parks va se retourner dans sa tombe. Alain Jakubowicz
Cette transformation des luttes remonte aux années 1970 aux États-Unis avec une radicalisation du mouvement des droits civiques, qui va se transformer en mouvements beaucoup plus violents, comme les Blacks Panters. Cette radicalité va déteindre sur tous les mouvements gauchistes qui vont revendiquer la lutte au nom d’un critère identitaire. Cette dérive identitaire, qui consiste à penser que certains critères de notre identité sont surdéterminants est commune à l’extrême droite et à l’extrême-gauche, qui s’entretiennent dans une surenchère. C’est le signe d’une déstructuration complète de la politique. Laurent Bouvet
Le principe de «non-mixité» provient directement des études féministes et postcoloniales des universités américaines. Elle doit permettre aux «opprimés» de s’«auto-émanciper» sans l’aide, jugée «paternaliste» des «oppresseurs». Elle se pratique aussi bien dans les milieux dit «antiracistes» que dans les mouvements féministes. Ainsi la commission «féminisme» de Nuit Debout revendique ouvertement la non-mixité. Sont exclus de certains débats les hommes cisgenres (hétérosexuels). Les militantes débattent dans un secteur délimité par des ficelles tendues que n’ont pas le droit de franchir les hommes. (…)«La non-mixité choisie, ce n’est pas pour se retrouver entre femmes mais entre personnes socialement dominées et opprimées, explique au Monde Matt, une des organisatrices de «Féminisme debout». «Il faut des espaces pour que les dominés puissent prendre conscience ensemble des pratiques d’oppression et s’exprimer, sans la présence des dominants.» Eugénie Bastié
Si le fait colonial — premier contact de masse entre l’Europe et le reste du monde — induit encore aujourd’hui une relation complexe entre Nous et les Autres ; ces exhibitions en sont le négatif tout aussi prégnant, car composante essentielle du premier contact, ici, entre les Autres et Nous. Un autre importé, exhibé, mesuré, montré, disséqué, spectularisé, scénographié, selon les attentes d’un Occident en quête de certitudes sur son rôle de « guide du monde », de « civilisation supérieure ». Aussi naturellement que le droit de « coloniser », ce droit d’« exhiber » des « exotiques » dans des zoos, des cirques ou des villages se généralise de Hambourg à Paris, de Chicago à Londres, de Milan à Varsovie… Nicolas Bancel, Pascal Blanchard, Gilles Boëtsch, Éric Deroo et Sandrine Lemaire
Le concept de « zoo humain » est apparu au début des années 2000 pour décrire une attitude culturelle qui a prévalu au temps des empires coloniaux (États-Unis inclus) jusqu’à la Seconde Guerre mondiale, attitude qui perdure aujourd’hui mais sous d’autres formes. Il a été popularisé par la publication en 2002 de l’ouvrage Zoos humains ; De la Vénus Hottentote aux reality show, sous la direction de Nicolas Bancel, Pascal Blanchard, Gilles Boëtsch, Éric Deroo et Sandrine Lemaire, historiens français spécialistes du phénomène colonial. Sous prétexte d’exotisme, les expositions coloniales, et d’une manière générale, les expositions universelles, ont été l’occasion de présenter aux publics des métropoles occidentales un échantillon des divers peuples non-occidentaux, chacun mis en situation forcée dans leur environnement reconstitué. Le phénomène d’exhibition apparaît dès l’Antiquité (les Grecs ont leurs sauvages, les Égyptiens ramènent des nains du Soudan pour les exhiber) mais le phénomène de spectacle se développe surtout avec les Grandes découvertes. Christophe Colomb ramène en 1492 six Indiens qu’il présente à la cour d’Espagne. En 1550, des Indiens Tupinamba défilent à Rouen devant Henri II, en 1644 des Groenlandais sont enlevés pour être exposés au roi Frédéric III de Danemark. Les ambassadeurs siamois (en) sont présentés comme un spectacle exotique sous Louis XIV en 1686, comme le Tahitien Omai à la cour d’Angleterre en 17743. Le premier « zoo humain », en Amérique, semble avoir été celui de Moctezuma à Mexico, qui, en plus d’exhiber de vastes collections d’animaux, montrait aussi des êtres humains présentant des difformités : albinos, nains, bossus. À partir du XIXe siècle, ces exhibitions ne sont plus réservées aux élites et se démocratisent, devenant extrêmement populaires, sur le modèle des grands spectacles de foire, avec notamment le développement d’attractions calquées sur le plan de la scénographie, sur celui du zoo itinérant des cirques Barnums, puis allant délibérément réinvestir des zoos existants. Les exemples les plus éloquents sont celui du pygmée congolais Ota Benga placé dans le zoo du Bronx en 1906, des Amérindiens employés lors des Wild West Shows) et du « freak show » où furent exhibés William Henry Johnson, et surtout Saartjie Baartman, surnommée la « Vénus hottentote », dont l’exposition marqua un tournant : l’exotisme laisse alors la place au racialisme, lequel s’appuie sur un discours « scientifique ». Une véritable industrie du spectacle se met en place dès cette époque : au bout du compte, plus d’un milliard quatre cent millions de visiteurs ont pu voir 35 000 figurants dans le monde, entre 1800 à 1958, depuis les petites manifestations de cirque jusqu’aux grandes expositions coloniales et universelles pouvant mobiliser plusieurs millions de spectateurs. À la suite de l’exposition coloniale de 1931 organisée à Paris, qui montrait entre autres des villages indigènes reconstitués où leurs habitants étaient obligés d’être leur propres acteurs sous l’œil curieux de millions de visiteurs, des personnalités issues de communautés religieuses et et d’organismes sociaux divers se mobilisèrent et permirent de mettre fin à ces exhibitions que l’on jugeait malsaines. « Le scandale ne tarda pas à éclater. En ce qui concerne les Kanaks, des plaintes se multiplièrent, d’abord de la part des Kanaks eux-mêmes, relayées par tous les familiers de la Nouvelle-Calédonie, les « hommes d’Église, des Calédoniens de Paris et même une bonne partie des Européens de Nouvelle-Calédonie », parmi lesquels on compte le pasteur Maurice Leenhardt, le père Bazin et les Maristes, puis par la Ligue française pour la défense des droits de l’homme et du citoyen, et par le pasteur Soulier, député de Paris. Par contre, « la presse politique demeura en revanche à peu près muette, à l’image de L’Humanité ». Il en fut de même pour Le Canard enchaîné. Seul le PCF, farouche opposant au colonianisme, organisa aux buttes-Chaumont une contre exposition, mais qui n’eut aucun succès. (…) Depuis 1999, avec entre autres l’émission Big Brother, la télévision est devenu le principal vecteur de création de zoos humains contemporains : c’est la thèse que défendent des chercheurs comme Nicolas Bancel, avec son équipe, mais aussi Olivier Razac. Le principe de ces télés réalité est d’enfermer un groupe d’hommes et de femmes observés en direct par le biais des caméras d’une chaîne de télévision. Les « acteurs » de ces shows sont le plus souvent des jeunes peu éduqués, issus de régions ou de milieux « stigmatisés ». (…) En 2014, Brett Bailey présente Exhibit B, une série de tableaux vivants qui évoquent les zoos humains. L’installation-performance de l’artiste sud-africain, qui tourna dans plus de 15 pays européens, a entraîné à Londres puis à Paris une polémique, certaines personnes jugeant l’œuvre raciste et déshumanisante. Le 28 novembre 2013, la télévision nationale japonaise (NHK) a été condamnée à payer 1 000 000 de yens à la fille d’une membre de l’ethnie Paiwan de Taiwan, qui avait été envoyée par le Japon à l’exposition anglo-japonaise de 1910 ; le juge a estimé que l’emploi répété de l’expression « Zoo humain » (…) dans le programme documentaire Asia no Ittokoku d’avril 2009 était diffamant à l’égard d’elle-même et sa descendance. Wikipedia
La France est le seul pays au monde à utiliser le mot «nègre» dans le sens d’esclave littéraire. Ce terme, dont la connotation raciste est tellement qu’évidente que plus personne n’ose l’utiliser au sens littéraire qu’avec des guillemets, fait en effet allusion au statut d’esclave du collaborateur surexploité qui fait le travail d’un autre. Il est apparu au XVIIIe siècle, au moment où la France surexploitait ses colonies en y déportant des millions d’Africains qui mouraient en quelques années. En ce sens, il véhicule la glorification la plus éhontée de l’esclavage et du racisme le plus primaire, car l’expression «nègre littéraire» est également un terme de mépris, correspondant au mépris qu’on vouait aux esclaves et qui s’attache encore trop souvent aux personnes à la peau noire, bien longtemps après que l’esclavage a été aboli. L’expression «nègre» au sens de collaborateur littéraire a été répandue en France en 1845 par Maison Alexandre Dumas & Cie, fabrique de romans, un pamphlet raciste du prêtre défroqué Jean-Baptiste Jacquot qui se faisait appeler Eugène de Mirecourt. Ce texte ordurier et calomnieux, qui visait Alexandre Dumas, a valu à son auteur, à la demande d’Alexandre Dumas, d’être condamné à six mois de prison et à une forte amende, alors que n’existait même pas encore le délit de diffamation à caractère raciste. Mirecourt éprouvait évidemment une jouissance particulière à utiliser le mot «nègre» à propos d’Alexandre Dumas, homme à la peau colorée et fils d’esclave. On a vu récemment réapparaître la même jouissance dans les textes de journalistes racistes qui défendaient le recours à Gérard Depardieu pour interpréter le rôle de Dumas et prenaient un plaisir évident à colporter les thèses de Mirecourt selon lesquelles Dumas n’aurait pas été capable d’écrire ses livres sans l’aide d’hommes à la peau blanche. On sait que ces débordements, qui font appel aux instincts les plus abjects des Français, ont eu pour effet direct de faire monter de plus de deux points les intentions de vote pour le Front national aux élections régionales. Ces dérives doivent à présent cesser. Près de dix ans après que la France a déclaré l’esclavage crime contre l’humanité, il n’est plus supportable que l’expression de «nègre» soit encore utilisée au sens d’esclave dans un film destiné au grand public, alors que l’usage est d’avoir désormais recours au terme de «plume», de «collaborateur», d’écrivain fantôme ou de «ghost writer». Il me semble qu’au XXIe siècle, il est plus que temps de faire entrer dans la tête des Français que le mot « nègre » ne peut plus, en aucun cas, être utilisé impunément pour désigner un être humain qu’on exploite d’une manière ou d’une autre et qui serait méprisé du fait de cette exploitation. Je demande donc au producteur et au distributeur du film The Ghost Writer d’appliquer aux sous-titres et à la version française la même doctrine que celle qu’ils ont appliquée au titre et de s’abstenir de véhiculer gratuitement en France un racisme qui n’est pas dans l’esprit de l’œuvre dont est tiré le film. Faute de rectification immédiate dans ce sens, j’en appelle toutes celles et tous ceux qui luttent contre le racisme a ne pas aller voir ce film et à lui appliquer le même boycott qu’à L’Autre Dumas qui a été un échec retentissant dès la première semaine. Claude Ribbe
Faut-il se débarrasser du mot « nègre » ? Cette question en appelle d’autres : quel mot « nègre » ? Celui de Théodore Canot ou celui de l’abbé Grégoire ? Celui qu’employait Maurice Barrès, celui utilisé par Simone de Beauvoir, ou encore celui que s’est approprié Aimé Césaire ? Expiera-t-on le passé esclavagiste de la France en se débarrassant d’un mot et de tous ses dérivés ? Rappelons que les Noirs ne sont pas plus noirs que les Blancs sont blancs, et que le premier homme à avoir associé une couleur à la peau des Africains ne l’a pas fait innocemment. Le noir n’est pas n’importe quelle couleur. Notre langue est truffée d’expressions héritées des brutalités de l’Histoire. Peut-on mettre fin aux atrocités du passé tout en continuant à parler leur langue ? Claude Ribbe a le mérite d’engager cette réflexion. Peut-être cherche-t-il un peu trop vite à la clore. David Caviglioli
It isn’t unusual for British or Canadian books to change titles when entering the American market. It happened to JK Rowling – Harry Potter has no « philosopher’s » stone in the USA; and to Alice Munro, whose fabulous collection of short stories went from Who Do You Think You Are? in Canada to The Beggar Maid in the USA. « Negroes » would not fly, or be allowed to fly, in American bookstore. At first, I was irritated, but gradually I’ve come to make my peace with the new title, Someone Knows My Name. Perhaps the best way to examine the issue is to examine the evolution of the word « Negro » in America. I descend (on my father’s side) from African-Americans. My own father, who was born in 1923, fled the United States with my white mother the day after they married in 1953. As my mother is fond of saying, at the time even federal government cafeterias were segregated. It was no place for an interracial couple to live. My parents, who became pioneers of the human rights movement in Canada, used the word Negro as a term of respect and pride. My American relatives all used it to describe themselves. I found it in the literature I began to consume as a teenager: one of the most famous poems by Langston Hughes, for example, is The Negro Speaks of Rivers. When my own father was appointed head of the Ontario Human Rights Commission in 1973, the Toronto Globe and Mail’s headline noted that a « Negro » had been appointed. The term was in vogue right into the 1970s. For a time, the word « Negro » took a back seat in popular language culture to newer terms, such as « Afro-American », « African-Canadian », « people of colour » (a term I have always disliked, for its pomposity) or just plain « black. » (…) In the last 20 or so years in urban America, we have witnessed more changes in racial terminology. For one thing, and regrettably in my view, many hip-hop artists have re-appropriated the word « nigger », tried to tame it, and use it so vocally and frequently as to strip it of its hateful origins. We are all products of our generation. Given that I was born in 1957 and taught to ball my fists against anybody using that N-word, I can’t quite get my head around using it these days in any kind of peaceful or respectful manner. Just as the very word « nigger » has risen in popular usage over the last decade or two, however, the word « Negro » has become viscerally rude. In urban America, to call someone a Negro is to ask to for trouble. It suggests that the designated person has no authenticity, no backbone, no individuality, and is nothing more than an Uncle Tom to the white man. (…) I used The Book of Negroes as the title for my novel, in Canada, because it derives from a historical document of the same name kept by British naval officers at the tail end of the American Revolutionary War. It documents the 3,000 blacks who had served the King in the war and were fleeing Manhattan for Canada in 1783. Unless you were in The Book of Negroes, you couldn’t escape to Canada. My character, an African woman named Aminata Diallo whose story is based on this history, has to get into the book before she gets out. In my country, few people have complained to me about the title, and nobody continues to do so after I explain its historical origins. I think it’s partly because the word « Negro » resonates differently in Canada. If you use it in Toronto or Montreal, you are probably just indicating publicly that you are out of touch with how people speak these days. But if you use it in Brooklyn or Boston, you are asking to have your nose broken. When I began touring with the novel in some of the major US cities, literary African-Americans kept approaching me and telling me it was a good thing indeed that the title had changed, because they would never have touched the book with its Canadian title. I’d rather have the novel read under a different title than not read at all, so perhaps my editor in New York made the right call. After all, she lives in the country, and I don’t. I just have one question. Now that the novel has won the Commonwealth writers’ prize, if it finds a British publisher, what will the title be in the UK? Lawrence Hill
The Book of Negroes is this British, military document, this ledger that the British navy keeps that’s recording details about thousands of blacks who are fleeing Manhattan at the end of the war—the Revolutionary war … and coming to Nova Scotia. This document was just absolutely stunning and riveting and it’s pretty well forgotten. I’m sure there are not more than 50 Canadians who have looked at it. So it’s sitting there waiting to be loved and waiting to be discovered. (…) Some parts of it were totally seductive in their power because the documents spoke for themselves so richly, (…) It’s a history that’s sensational and that’s almost completely unknown and that seems to be what has drawn readers to the story. It’s the story of the black Loyalists who came to Canada after fighting for the British in the American Revolutionary War and who were treated so miserably in Nova Scotia that they turned around and left and went to Africa, forming the first exodus of Africans back to Africa in the history of the world. This was a story I really needed to tell and wanted to tell. … It’s not about attributing blame; it’s about recognizing the drama and the sadness in our own history and bringing it to life. Lawrence Hill
The Eiffel Tower looked very different from the Statue of Liberty, but what did that matter? What was the good of having the statue without the liberty? Joséphine Baker
Un jour j’ai réalisé que j’habitais dans un pays où j’avais peur d’être noire. C’était un pays réservé aux Blancs. Il n’y avait pas de place pour les Noirs. J’étouffais aux États-Unis. Beaucoup d’entre nous sommes partis, pas parce que nous le voulions, mais parce que nous ne pouvions plus supporter ça… Je me suis sentie libérée à Paris. Joséphine Baker
When I was a child and they burned me out of my home, I was frightened and I ran away.  Eventually I ran far away.  It was to a place called France.  Many of you have been there, and many have not.  But I must tell you, ladies and gentlemen, in that country I never feared.  It was like a fairyland place. And I need not tell you that wonderful things happened to me there. (…) when I was young in Paris, strange things happened to me.  And these things had never happened to me before.  When I left St. Louis a long time ago, the conductor directed me to the last car.  And you all know what that means. But when I ran away, yes, when I ran away to another country, I didn’t have to do that.  I could go into any restaurant I wanted to, and I could drink water anyplace I wanted to, and I didn’t have to go to a colored toilet either, and I have to tell you it was nice, and I got used to it, and I liked it, and I wasn’t afraid anymore that someone would shout at me and say, “Nigger, go to the end of the line.”  But you know, I rarely ever used that word.  You also know that it has been shouted at me many times. So over there, far away, I was happy, and because I was happy I had some success, and you know that too. Then after a long time, I came to America to be in a great show for Mr. Ziegfeld, and you know Josephine was happy.  You know that.  Because I wanted to tell everyone in my country about myself.  I wanted to let everyone know that I made good, and you know too that that is only natural. But on that great big beautiful ship, I had a bad experience.  A very important star was to sit with me for dinner, and at the last moment I discovered she didn’t want to eat with a colored woman.  I can tell you it was some blow. (…) And when I got to New York way back then, I had other blows—when they would not let me check into the good hotels because I was colored, or eat in certain restaurants.  And then I went to Atlanta, and it was a horror to me.  And I said to myself, My God, I am Josephine, and if they do this to me, what do they do to the other people in America? You know, friends, that I do not lie to you when I tell you I have walked into the palaces of kings and queens and into the houses of presidents.  And much more. But I could not walk into a hotel in America and get a cup of coffee, and that made me mad.  And when I get mad, you know that I open my big mouth.  And then look out, ‘cause when Josephine opens her mouth, they hear it all over the world. So I did open my mouth, and you know I did scream, and when I demanded what I was supposed to have and what I was entitled to, they still would not give it to me. So then they thought they could smear me, and the best way to do that was to call me a communist.  And you know, too, what that meant.  Those were dreaded words in those days, and I want to tell you also that I was hounded by the government agencies in America, and there was never one ounce of proof that I was a communist.  But they were mad.  They were mad because I told the truth.  And the truth was that all I wanted was a cup of coffee.  But I wanted that cup of coffee where I wanted to drink it, and I had the money to pay for it, so why shouldn’t I have it where I wanted it? (…) Ladies and gentlemen, my friends and family, I have just been handed a little note, as you probably say.  It is an invitation to visit the President of the United States in his home, the White House. I am greatly honored.  But I must tell you that a colored woman—or, as you say it here in America, a black woman—is not going there. It is a woman.  It is Josephine Baker. This is a great honor for me.  Someday I want you children out there to have that great honor too.  And we know that that time is not someday.  We know that that time is now. Josephine Baker
I want you to find me a little baby, a pure-bred Japanese, a little boy of two years I can adopt. I will adopt five small boys of two years each,” including a “dark-skinned black” from South Africa, “an Indian from Peru, a Nordic and an Israelite. These small children will be like brothers, live together as a symbol of democracy. Josephine Baker
I will make every effort so that each shows the utmost respect for the opinions and beliefs of the other. I want to show people of colour that not all whites are cruel and mean. I will prove that human beings can respect each other if given the chance. Josephine Baker
 We knew that we were brothers from different countries. [We] had the sense that we had to show the world that the union of races, religions, whatever, was possible. Jarry Bouillon
La famille était un véritable projet pour maman. Elle voulait créer des oppositions : le juif et le musulman, le chrétien et l’animiste, etc.  Akio Bouillon
 Pour éviter des attirances charnelles plus tard, maman et papa avaient décidé de se cantonner à un sexe. Pour Marianne, puis Stellina, elle a transgressé la règle. Brian Bouillon
Bien que peu au courant des exploits de leur mère, ses enfants vivent une enfance hors normes. Quand ils jouent dans la piscine des Milandes, c’est avec Dalida, Bécaud ou Hervé Vilard. Quand ils voyagent, ils sont accueillis par le maréchal Tito, Jackie Kennedy, le pape Paul VI ou la reine de Suède. «  Je revois encore Koffi tirer la barbe de Fidel Castro à Cuba », s’amuse Brian, qui était dans la même classe qu’Albert de Monaco au lycée. Quant à Akio, il se souvient comme si c’était hier de l’enterrement de JFK à Washington. Emportée par une attaque cérébrale le 12 avril 1975, Joséphine Baker a droit à des funérailles nationales. Il y a deux ans, Régis Debray demandait même son entrée au Panthéon. France Dimanche
Après la Deuxième Guerre mondiale, n’ayant pas d’enfant, Joséphine Baker (1906-1975) forme le projet de constituer une famille de toutes les couleurs : « un enfant jaune, un blanc, un noir et un rouge », et de les élever dans la fraternité et l’universalisme. En fait, dans les années 1950, avec son mari Jo Bouillon, elle adopte douze enfants de nationalités, cultures et religions variées : Teruya et Akio ramenés du Japon, Jari (Finlande), Luis (Colombie), Jean-Claude, Moïse et Noël (France), Brahim -devenu Brian- et Marianne (Algérie), Koffi (Côte d’Ivoire), Mara (Venezuela), Stellina (Maroc). (…) En faisant grandir en frères et sœurs tous ces enfants au sein de la « Tribu Arc-en-ciel » comme elle la nommait, Joséphine Baker veut prouver « que toutes les races peuvent vivre ensemble dans une harmonie parfaite ». Son idéal la pousse à transformer le château des Milandes où vit la famille en « Village de la fraternité ». Sur des routes de la Dordogne, des panneaux publicitaires guident les touristes vers le « Village du monde », la « Capitale de la fraternité »… (…) Tous les enfants de la fratrie sont élevés dans le respect de leurs origines et de leurs religions, ce qui suppose plusieurs précepteurs capables de leurs enseigner leurs cultures respectives. A l’adolescence, des troubles de l’identité et des problèmes d’intégration touchent ces enfants de star très médiatisés. Difficultés qui ne semblent pas avoir mis en cause la fraternité et la solidarité créées entre les enfants. Yves Denéchère
Long before Angelina Jolie, Mia Farrow and Madonna made headlines with their adoptive families, 1920s star Josephine Baker tried to combat racism by adopting 12 children of various ethnic backgrounds from around the world. Today the members of her « rainbow tribe » are still searching for their identity. (…) Misfortune often begins with visions, and Josephine Baker had her own vision. She did something that many celebrities would later emulate: She adopted children from poor countries to give them the opportunity of a better life. Adoption is supposed to be an opportunity for children like Maddox, a boy that actress Angelina Jolie adopted in Cambodia, and Mercy, a girl from Malawi the singer Madonna recently adopted after the country’s highest court approved the contested adoption — even though Mercy still has a father in her native village. Madonna told the court that she could offer Mercy a better life — a common argument. The stars want to set an example and use their celebrity status to do good. Sometimes it’s about big ideas, promoting understanding among nations or putting an end to racism. Perhaps Josephine Baker began adopting children as a way to compensate for her own unhappy childhood. (…) In 1926, she bent over in her banana skirt, practically nude, in a revue at the Folies-Bergère in Paris. The audience was ecstatic. It was the roaring 20s, and in Europe’s cities, where people celebrated with abandon, Josephine Baker, as a nude, exotic woman, satisfied their lust for pleasure. Baker was a sex symbol, a role she relished, sleeping with men and women — thousands, as she would later say. But none of this love-making gave her what she wanted most. She married a third time, but she still couldn’t get pregnant. She was infertile. She threw herself into her work, discovering a new passion in World War II. She supported the French resistance movement, and was given a uniform and awarded many decorations. By then, Baker was rich and famous, and yet there was still a gaping hole in her life. The war ended. Baker, now in her 40s, was no longer a sex symbol. She needed a new role. Like Madonna decades later, she felt the need to constantly reinvent herself. In 1947, Baker married her fourth husband, French orchestra leader Jo Bouillon. She bought a Renaissance castle in Périgord, the Château des Milandes, with more than 30 rooms, surrounded by 400 hectares (1,000 acres) of land. She was practically royalty by then, but she was still black. When she visited the United States, she could only enter some hotels through a back entrance. She was determined to fight this racism. And now she owned a chateau. A plan began to take shape in Baker’s mind. In early 1954, she gave a talk in Copenhagen. She wanted to make a gesture of humanity, she said, explaining that she wanted to « adopt five little boys » — one from each continent. (…) Baker (…) took them to Château des Milandes, where more than 100 employees were hired to transform the estate into a center of brotherliness, and a place where celebrities and weekend guests could meet. The main attraction would be Baker’s new family, in its splendid array of skin colors. Baker called the family her « Rainbow Tribe. » It was front-page news. Baker’s husband, Jo Bouillon, managed her affairs at Les Milandes and struggled to raise the children. His wife was constantly on tour, bringing home a new child from practically every trip. But she was only interested in adopting boys, fearing that romantic attachments could develop between the children. (…) A rotating assortment of nannies looked after the children until Baker fired them. She would occasionally storm around the estate, furiously ordering gardeners to replant shrubs, only to slap them afterwards for having done so. She redecorated the chateau, hosted wild parties and took off again. Child number eight, a white boy from France, arrived in 1957. Baker told the press that he was from Israel. She had been missing a Jew in her tribe. In photos taken at the time, the chateau looks more like an orphanage than a real home. The children slept in a room in the attic, in eight small beds lined up in a row. Whenever Baker returned home, even if it happened to be at 3 a.m., she would wake the children and demand affection. (…) On the surface, the children seemed to have a dream childhood. They were living in a castle, like children in a fairy tale. They played with knights’ armor tucked into nooks along the spiral steps to the tower, romped in the gardens, built tree houses and frolicked with the dogs. (…) Every year at Christmas, the presents were piled high to the ceiling in the castle. Monstrous, says Jarry. It was Baker’s way of showing affection for the children. Their duty, in return, was to allow themselves to be shown off to the public. On the occasional Sunday when she was there, Baker would dress the children in white and have them line up in the courtyard, where tourists and the press were waiting behind a fence to take pictures. Jarry says that he and the other children sometimes felt like pet monkeys. Child number 10, a small indigenous boy from Venezuela, came in 1959. The global mother needed to complete her collection. (…) Baker was a star. She had influential friends, like Princess Grace of Monaco, and she had money. Not all of her children were orphans. In some cases, she simply bought babies from their destitute parents. (…) It had all become too much for Baker’s husband. After years of her escapades and their arguments, Bouillon left the chateau, and in 1963 he moved to Buenos Aires. Without him and his business acumen, the estate was doomed to financial ruin. The children lost their father figure, the only person who had given them some structure in Baker’s chaotic world. (…) Baker traveled the world with the children. They met the pope and vacationed with Cuban leader Fidel Castro. The situation at the chateau spun out of control. All the employees, private tutors, monkeys and other animals she had acquired were eating up Baker’s fortune. She managed to fend off bankruptcy for a few more years, stubbornly living her dream, an aging regent who tolerated no back talk and treated the children like subjects. She wrote reports about them, described their characters in detail and drafted plans for their future. Akio was to become a diplomat, Jari a hotelier. Another child was supposed to be a doctor. But none of them were to be artists. She even banned music instruction. After they had received their education and training, the children were to return to the countries where they had come from and make themselves useful there, as Baker’s envoys and as the loyal executors of her ideas. None of the children stuck to the plan. (…) She lost the chateau in 1969, and when she refused to leave she was carried out against her will. She sat on the steps in the rain for two days, covered with only a plaid wool blanket. The photo quickly appeared in newspapers around the world. Baker wanted to make sure that the children would never search for their biological families, and in some cases she even withheld information. (…) Sometimes Bouillon flips through magazines and sees the photos of today’s rainbow tribes, of Madonna with her children from Malawi, of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, traveling around the world with their six small children and their nannies, in the glare of the media spotlight. But he doesn’t feel taken aback by the images. In fact, they make him feel proud. « It’s great, » he says. « These stars are following in my mother’s footsteps. » Of course, he adds, the paparazzi are a problem, as is their constant quest for pictures of the children. But when Jolie adopts a baby from the Third World, says Bouillon, there is also a higher principle at work. « When these children grow up, they’ll understand. » (…) Josephine Baker — the bisexual revue star, darling of gays and drag queens, civil rights activist — banished her son because he loved men. (…) Jean-Claude Baker, 66, was one of Josephine’s companions — a gay man, like many of her friends. They performed together in the last years of her life. She called him her 13th child; he took on her name. But the two had a falling-out before her death. He still lives in her world today. He has named his restaurant after her and decorated it with images of her. He has also written the most detailed biography of Baker to date. Like many who were very close to her, he seems caught in her shadow. Merlind Theile
Before Josephine Baker was 20 years old, she was a totem of primeval sex. On the high-end stages of Paris, wearing a banana skirt or a ring of palm fronds, she arched, shimmied, twisted and smiled all at once. The “wicked Josephine Baker”, as one writer archly described her, was a “lubricious idol”, the embodiment of “carnal splendour” who “drives males to despair”. The poet EE Cummings, a member of the “Lost Generation” of writers drifting across Europe in the Twenties, remembered her as a “wand of golden flesh” to be loved, loathed and feared. At the peak of this sexualised celebrity, she would stroll down the Champs-Élysées with a cheetah on a leash, two exotic creatures, objects of obsession and dread, spectacularly out of place amid the neoclassical buildings that lined the grand boulevard. Baker used her race as a fetish to lure white audiences, got rich fast and became a superstar. Late in life, she decided to change her image and change the world. She did something so unexpected and so dramatic that it still resonates today. In 1953, after a decade of planning, Josephine Baker built a family from scratch. She set out to adopt a cadre of what she imagined as racially diverse children from around the world, bringing them to south-west France in what was the start of an extraordinary experiment. Out of the French countryside, she created a vast theme park-cum-circus – complete with hotels, a collective farm, rides and, of course, singing and dancing – that would focus on the family of the future, which she vaingloriously named the “Rainbow Tribe”. Baker trained the children to be racial exemplars, to represent specific continents, religions and histories. She dispatched them as walking, talking and sometimes costumed icons of racial typecasting, over the sprawling campus surrounding Les Milandes, her name for the 15th-century castle at the centre of this enterprise. And she used them, collectively, as a blunt instrument in her war against racism and prejudice. No one had seen a black woman adopt a white child before. No one had seen a black woman adopt 12 children. Or raise them in a castle. Or house them in a theme park. Or use them in advertisements. Or portray them as soldiers in a struggle for justice. (…) The creation of such a mixed family required diversity that could be easily seen and understood. This was no time for subtlety or nuance. What Baker needed were representative types, human metaphors who could be displayed together for visual contrast, and whose play together could make a bigger point about common humanity and the roots of racism. (…),Baker’s original plans had included a Jewish child, and she laboured to procure one, but these plans got scrambled. Bouillon and Baker ultimately adopted a French orphan – “a dark-skinned baby”, Bouillon recalled — assigned him a Jewish identity and named him Moïse. In 1956, Marianne and Brahim, both from Algeria, arrived. “Look at them, Jo,” Baker exclaimed, composing improbable backstories for them. “He’s a Berber, probably the son of a wet nurse; she undoubtedly is a colonialist’s daughter.” Baker chose to raise one as a Muslim and the other as a Catholic, a perfect example of her use of hardline means to secure utopian ends. (…) All 12 children, in the end, would be stereotypes brought to life. (…) The colourful spectacle of Les Milandes was meant to be seen. Outside, Baker built up the grounds, installed car parks, established facilities for guests and set up an advertising campaign. She installed games and rides for children, and inscribed the entire place with her personality and celebrity. The result was an enclosed, self-contained theme park, a vision of an alternate world in which magic and fantasy were real and thematically organised around a positive vision of the racial future. The entire point of visiting Les Milandes was to see the children. They seemed like outsized Disney characters, performing scripted and rehearsed roles for a public they would never truly meet, escorted around the park by their parents. (…) Visitors came in their thousands, though not, Baker was disappointed to learn, in numbers large enough to ensure the long-term profitability of Les Milandes. (…) Baker did nothing to hide her orchestration of their performance from the children. (…) For Jarry, speaking to the German magazine Der Spiegel in 2009, this meant that the children often felt like “pet monkeys”.  (…) Most of the children were sent to their homelands after Les Milandes. (…) Baker envisioned the family as a United Nations, rich with linguistic, religious, racial and national diversity. Her emphasis was always on extraordinary variety, a diversity that went far beyond skin tone. But by the Seventies, her family was a political liability. Her parenting seemed to trivialise the children, to turn them into rich adornments for their mother. To activists, it was no longer clear what problems were best addressed by the gaudy spectacle of the Rainbow Tribe. The age of idealistic marches was over, and the age of riots, deteriorating cityscapes and white flight had arrived. It wasn’t just that the civil rights consensus had been fractured or that de Gaulle was gone; it was, instead, that the world was drifting toward a future in which Josephine Baker and the Rainbow Tribe seemed like a quaint reminder of the past. Matthew Pratt Guterl

Attention: un zoo humain peut en cacher un autre !

Vénus d’ébène et danse sauvage, plumes et ceinture de bananes, sirène des tropiques et léopard, égérie des cubistes et art nègre, Revue nègre et Renaissance Nègre, Théâtre des Champs Elysées et Folies Bergère, jazz et charleston, mata hari et croix de guerre, fausses couches et hystérectomie, château de Dordogne et gouffre financier,  entrées payantes pour venir lorgner, 40 ans avant Angelina Jolie et Madonna, sa petite tribu-arc-en-ciel de petits orphelins, funérailles nationales télévisées et église de la Madeleine …

En cette 65e Journée Josephine Baker

Dans notre série étranges destinées inversées

Où y compris pour désigner des réalité historiques certains mots se voient systématiquement éradiqués du langage …

En attendant notre premier camp décolonial

Qui se souvient …

Que la petite bête curieuse de 19 ans qui avait toute dénudée dans sa ceinture de sauvageonne …

Conquis le Tout-Paris des Années folles et de l’Exposition coloniale …

Assoiffé, loin de ses anciens esclaves parqués eux discrètement dans les DOMTOM, de jazz et de musiques noires …

Et qui avait finit par ouvrir dans un petit château de Dordogne son propre contre-zoo de la diversité …

Avait aussi été dans une terre natale qui l’avait finalement rejetée

Engoncée près de 40 ans plus tard dans son uniforme des FFI et ses décorations d’ancien combattant …

La seule femme – et la seule Française ! – à avoir eu droit à son discours

Aux côtés de Monsieur I have a dream lui-même ?

Joséphine Baker : “40 ans après sa mort, maman dérange toujours”

Stars inoubliables

Benoît Franquebalme

France Dimanche

26 octobre 2015

La mythique meneuse de “ La revue nègre ”, Joséphine Baker est morte en 1975 d’une attaque cérébrale mettant un terme à une vie de combats et laissant orphelins ses douze enfants adoptés. Souvenirs de deux de ses fils.

Ils nous ont donné rendez-vous à ­l’hôtel Scribe. Quoi de plus normal ? En janvier 1969, ruinée, Joséphine Baker avait installé sa famille dans cet établissement luxueux situé près de l’Opéra Garnier à Paris. À l’époque, la chanteuse et sa tribu viennent d’être expulsées du château des Milandes, leur propriété du Périgord. Magnanime, le Scribe invite l’artiste et ses douze enfants adoptifs.

Grace de Monaco, amie de la chanteuse, leur offrira plus tard l’hospitalité sur le Rocher.

Placés en internat la semaine, les frères et sœurs se retrouvent au Scribe le week-end. « Ici, maman faisait partie des meubles », sourit Akio, dans un couloir du 2e étage, baptisé « étage Joséphine Baker » où trône une grande fresque de la star. « Quand ils ont appris qu’elle était ruinée, ils ont fait un geste. »

La mythique meneuse de La revue nègre commença en effet à fréquenter le Scribe dans les années 50. L’hôtel jouxte l’Olympia où elle connut de si nombreux triomphes.

Confortablement installés dans le bar du palace, Brian (59 ans) et Akio (62 ans) sont là pour nous parler de leur mère, morte il y a quarante ans. Mais par où commencer ?

Née misérable dans le Missouri, Joséphine débarque à Paris en 1925 pour danser dans la scandaleuse Revue nègre. Cinq ans plus tard, elle conquiert définitivement la France en chantant J’ai deux amours (« mon pays et Paris »).

Pendant la Deuxième Guerre mondiale, l’ex-maîtresse de Simenon, Hemingway et Colette devient une grande résistante, ce qui lui vaudra plus tard d’être faite chevalier de la Légion d’honneur. Après la guerre, ­l’artiste reprend ses droits (elle était encore sur les planches de Bobino quelques jours avant sa mort) et fonde son incroyable famille.

Ayant subi une ablation de l’utérus pendant le conflit, Joséphine Baker sait qu’elle ne pourra jamais avoir d’enfants. Avec son mari, le chef d’orchestre Jo Bouillon, ils décident donc de se composer une « tribu arc-en-ciel », pour vivre pleinement leur idéal de fraternité universelle.

Akio est leur premier fils adoptif : « En tournée au Japon en 1954, maman a visité un orphelinat et m’y a trouvé, alors âgé de 18 mois, raconte cet employé de banque. Je ne connais pas mes parents biologiques. Je sais juste que je suis mi-japonais, mi-je-ne-sais-pas-quoi ! » Joséphine rentre en France avec Akio et Teruya, qu’elle a aussi adopté.

Sacré caractère
Dans les dix années suivantes, ils sont rejoints par, dans l’ordre : Jari (Finlande), Luis (Colombie), Jean-Claude, Moïse et Noël (France), Brian et Marianne (Algérie), Koffi (Côte d’Ivoire), Mara (Venezuela) et Stellina (Maroc). Ouf !

« Normalement, les enfants découvrent leurs cadets à la maternité, explique Akio. Moi, je les rencontrais à la gare de Souillac près des Milandes ! La famille était un véritable projet pour maman. Elle voulait créer des oppositions : le juif et le musulman, le chrétien et l’animiste, etc. »

« Moi, je suis né Brahim en Algérie en 1956, poursuit Brian, devenu comédien. Elle a appris que mes parents étaient morts dans des combats entre Français et fellaghas et que j’étais venu au monde le même jour qu’elle. J’avais 6 mois, j’ai souri, elle m’a pris. »

Aux Milandes en 1957, Joséphine Baker et son mari Jo Bouillon, entourés par leur ‘tribu arc-en-ciel » dont Akio, l’aîné et Brian dans les bras de sa mère, entre Jo et Joséphine.

Vous l’aurez noté, les huit premiers membres de la fratrie sont des garçons. Rien d’innocent à cela. « Pour éviter des attirances charnelles plus tard, maman et papa avaient décidé de se cantonner à un sexe, raconte Brian. Pour Marianne, puis Stellina, elle a transgressé la règle. »

Il faut dire que Joséphine Baker – dont Maurice Chevalier disait à Mistinguett : « C’est ta bête noire » – avait un sacré caractère ! Jugeant la carrière artistique trop aléatoire, elle ne dit rien de son passé et de son métier à ses petits, espérant qu’ils deviendront notaires ou avocats.

« Elle s’est plutôt bien débrouillée car je suis le seul artiste, note Brian. Les autres sont hôtelier, inspecteur des impôts, assureur, secrétaire médicale… » À eux douze, ils ont donné naissance à quatorze petits-enfants, dont une Joséphine qui va se marier l’été prochain.

Bien que peu au courant des exploits de leur mère, ses enfants vivent une enfance hors normes. Quand ils jouent dans la piscine des Milandes, c’est avec Dalida, Bécaud ou Hervé Vilard. Quand ils voyagent, ils sont accueillis par le maréchal Tito, Jackie Kennedy, le pape Paul VI ou la reine de Suède.

« Je revois encore Koffi tirer la barbe de Fidel Castro à Cuba », s’amuse Brian, qui était dans la même classe qu’Albert de Monaco au lycée. Quant à Akio, il se souvient comme si c’était hier de l’enterrement de JFK à Washington.

Emportée par une attaque cérébrale le 12 avril 1975, Joséphine Baker a droit à des funérailles nationales. Il y a deux ans, Régis Debray demandait même son entrée au Panthéon. « C’est une mauvaise idée, elle l’aurait refusée, tranche Akio. Ce qui est sûr, c’est qu’elle dérange toujours ceux qui combattent ses idéaux. »

En revanche, les deux frères travaillent actuellement à une adaptation pour le cinéma (ou la télévision) de la vie de leur mère. Dans le passé, on a parlé de Beyoncé ou Sonia Rolland pour interpréter Joséphine Baker. Aujourd’hui, ses petits-enfants rêvent plutôt de Rihanna. Une chose est sûre, le mythe reste intact…

Voir aussi:

Vivre un idéal de fraternité universelle : la « Tribu Arc-en-ciel » de Joséphine Baker / Yves Denéchère

Vivre un idéal de fraternité universelle : la « Tribu Arc-en-ciel » de Joséphine Baker / Yves Denéchère. In « Frères et sœurs du Moyen Âge à nos jours« , colloque international organisé par le laboratoire France Méridionale et Espagne: histoire des sociétés, du Moyen Âge à l’époque contemporaine (Framespa) de l’Université Toulouse II-Le Mirail et par le le Centre de recherches historiques de l’Ouest (Cerhio), Toulouse : Université Toulouse II-Le Mirail, 22-23 mars 2012. (Ce colloque de Toulouse constitue la seconde partie d’un double colloque international dont la première partie s’est tenue à Rennes, les 1er et 2 décembre 2011).
Session 4 : Fratrie/fraternité, le lien rêvé, 23 mars 2012.

Après la Deuxième Guerre mondiale, n’ayant pas d’enfant, Joséphine Baker (1906-1975) forme le projet de constituer une famille de toutes les couleurs : « un enfant jaune, un blanc, un noir et un rouge », et de les élever dans la fraternité et l’universalisme. En fait, dans les années 1950, avec son mari Jo Bouillon, elle adopte douze enfants de nationalités, cultures et religions variées : Teruya et Akio ramenés du Japon, Jari (Finlande), Luis (Colombie), Jean-Claude, Moïse et Noël (France), Brahim -devenu Brian- et Marianne (Algérie), Koffi (Côte d’Ivoire), Mara (Venezuela), Stellina (Maroc). Deux filles font donc partie de la fratrie, malgré la volonté initiale de n’avoir que des garçons afin d’éviter tout problème de relation entre frères et sœurs d’adoption. De Belgique, Joséphine ramène une petite Rama d’origine Hindoue pour sa sœur Margaret qui s’occupe de toute la famille. Deux générations de frères et sœurs cohabitent donc, l’une biologique, l’autre constituée au fil des adoptions successives.

En faisant grandir en frères et sœurs tous ces enfants au sein de la « Tribu Arc-en-ciel » comme elle la nommait, Joséphine Baker veut prouver « que toutes les races peuvent vivre ensemble dans une harmonie parfaite ». Son idéal la pousse à transformer le château des Milandes où vit la famille en « Village de la fraternité ». Sur des routes de la Dordogne, des panneaux publicitaires guident les touristes vers le « Village du monde », la « Capitale de la fraternité »… Après la vente dramatique des Milandes, grâce à la princesse de Monaco, la Tribu Arc-en-ciel va trouver refuge sur la Côte d’Azur.

Tous les enfants de la fratrie sont élevés dans le respect de leurs origines et de leurs religions, ce qui suppose plusieurs précepteurs capables de leurs enseigner leurs cultures respectives. A l’adolescence, des troubles de l’identité et des problèmes d’intégration touchent ces enfants de star très médiatisés. Difficultés qui ne semblent pas avoir mis en cause la fraternité et la solidarité créées entre les enfants. Devenus adultes, les « enfants Arc-en-ciel » ont témoigné des plus belles années de la Tribu, que ce soit dans les médias ou par des livres, ce qui permet d’analyser le lien créé entre eux.

Voir également:

JOSEPHINE BAKER
Enfance pauvre

Joséphine Baker, de son vrai nom Freda Joséphine McDonald, naît le 3 juin 1906, à Saint Louis (Missouri). Elle est métisse noire et amérindienne ; ses parents avaient monté un numéro de chant et de danse. Mais, un an après la naissance de Joséphine, son père quitte le domicile familial ; sa mère, Carrie, aura ensuite trois autres enfants, qu’elle élèvera avec Joséphine dans la pauvreté et la sévérité. Après avoir été placée à huit ans dans une famille blanche pour y travailler, Joséphine s’assume dès l’âge de treize ans en gagnant son pain comme serveuse. Parallèlement, elle s’intéresse à la danse, et remporte son premier concours à l’âge de dix ans. Elle rejoint le Jones Family Band, un groupe de musiciens de rue. Les Jones sont embauchés pour combler le vide à l’entracte du spectacle des Dixie Steppers, une troupe en tournée à Saint Louis. Joséphine fait ses premiers pas sur une vraie scène et le directeur des Dixie Steppers l’embauche… comme habilleuse. La jeune fille suit la troupe à travers le pays et apprend réellement le métier du spectacle. En 1921, elle saisit une opportunité : remplaçant une danseuse blessée, elle intègre la revue pour tenir des emplois de «girl » comique. Mais son très jeune âge la freine encore dans ses ambitions : aussi décide-t-elle de tenter sa chance à New York. Elle finit par intégrer le spectacle Shuffle Along, une comédie musicale à succès intégralement interprétée par des Noirs. Multipliant les singeries, Joséphine Baker impose un personnage à la fois comique et sexy : de 1922 à 1924, elle a atteint une vraie notoriété.

La Revue Nègre

En 1925, c’est la grande occasion qui va permettre à Joséphine Baker d’entrer dans la légende : le Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, à la recherche de nouveaux spectacles, met sur pied la « Revue Nègre », interprétée par des artistes noirs américains (dont Sidney Bechet), qui apportent à la scène française le jazz, le ragtime et la fougue d’une musique que l’on n’appelle pas encore « afro-américaine ». Joséphine, désireuse de passer au-delà des emplois de girl comique, se laisse convaincre de s’expatrier. Le 2 octobre 1925, la Revue Nègre, mélange d’imagerie coloniale et de folklore américain, signe le début de Joséphine Baker sur une scène parisienne : vêtue d’une ceinture de bananes qui restera légendaire, elle danse de manière frénétique sur un air de Charleston – musique alors largement inconnue en France. La nouveauté totale de cette apparition dans l’événement artistique de 1925 apporte à la chanteuse une célébrité éclatante : elle est aussitôt l’attraction des cercles artistiques et intellectuels parisiens, allant jusqu’à faire figure d’« égérie des cubistes ». La danse extrêmement suggestive – et pour l’époque, à la limite de l’obscène – de Joséphine Baker, sa coupe de cheveux à la garçonne, en font à la fois une sorte d’emblème du féminisme et de la modernité, en même temps qu’un objet scénique résolument non identifié en France.

Les Folies Bergère

Elle se signale également par une vie privée quelque peu mouvementée, qui inspirera à son secrétaire, le futur écrivain Georges Simenon, un roman quelque peu égrillard. La Revue Nègre réalise une tournée européenne, à l’issue de laquelle sa vedette va tout simplement laisser tomber la troupe : Joséphine Baker a en effet décroché un contrat de meneuse de revue aux Folies-Bergère. Désormais star absolue de la scène parisienne, Joséphine se rend célèbre par ses apparitions sur la scène des Folies-Bergère. Représentée sur d’innombrables illustrations (portraits, cartes postales), la star à la ceinture de bananes, désormais plus emplumée au dernier degré, est devenue une image incontournable des Années Folles. Sur les conseils de son manager Giuseppe « Pepito » Abatino, Joséphine Baker entretient sa popularité par une tournée européenne qui suscite quelque controverse du fait des tenues légères de la vedette. Revenue à Paris, elle est engagée comme meneuse de revue au Casino de Paris, où  elle fait sensation en promenant sur scène, en laisse, un impressionnant léopard. Elle s’impose en rivale très sérieuse pour Mistinguett sur la scène parisienne. Parallèlement, Joséphine se diversifie et se lance dans la chanson : la célèbre chanson « J’ai deux amours », composée par Vincent Scotto, est un grand succès de l’année 1931.

Avec Jean Gabin

Passer du statut de danseuse à celui de chanteuse lui permet d’abandonner progressivement celui de «petite sauvage » pour une image de diva plus prestigieuse et gratifiante. Elle tourne plusieurs films, mais se révèle une comédienne assez médiocre : sur le plateau du film Zouzou, pour pallier à ses insuffisances, le metteur en scène Marc Allégret fait la part belle au partenaire de Joséphine, un jeune premier nommé Jean Gabin, qui bénéficiera très nettement de cette exposition. Mais Joséphine Baker va connaître une rude rebuffade en 1936 : désireuse de s’imposer dans son pays natal, elle participe aux Ziegfeld Follies, mais les critiques sont désastreuses. Privée, aux yeux des américains, de l’exotisme qu’elle représente pour les européens, Joséphine n’est plus qu’une «négresse aux dents de lapin» et son accent, devenu hybride après tant d’années à l’étranger, déconcerte quelque peu. Malgré le succès d’un club qu’elle ouvre en parallèle à New York, elle finit par rentrer en France pour un nouvel engagement comme meneuse de revue aux Folies-Bergère. Elle acquiert la nationalité française en épousant Jean Lion, un riche marchand de sucre dont elle se séparera assez rapidement.

La Légion d’Honneur

En 1939, à la déclaration de guerre, Joséphine Baker est engagée comme agent de renseignement, chargée de surveiller la haute société, par les services secrets français. Réfugiée au Maroc durant l’Occupation, elle continue de transmettre des messages, parfois cachés dans des partitions musicales, pour le compte de la France Libre et de l’Armée de l’air. Elle se verra décerner la Légion d’Honneur pour ses services. En 1947, elle épouse le chef d’orchestre Jo Bouillon et achète avec lui un château en Dordogne, le Domaine des Milandes. En 1951, elle obtient enfin le succès dans son pays natal, avec une série de concerts où elle avait exigé que soit autorisée la mixité raciale du public. Très engagée contre les discriminations, Joséphine Baker, fantasque, se laissera cependant aller peu après à des déclarations politiques malencontreuses qui lui fermeront un temps le public des Etats-Unis.

Les Milandes

Joséphine Baker recueille et élève aux Milandes des enfants de toutes origines, qu’elle appelle sa « tribu arc-en-ciel ». Mais le domaine se révèlera malheureusement au fil des années un gouffre financier, où Joséphine Baker engloutira l’essentiel de sa fortune. En désaccord sur la gestion du domaine, Jo Bouillon et son épouse finissent par se séparer. Joséphine multiplie les concerts pour payer ses dettes et renflouer son domaine. Un temps considérée comme has been, elle se produit régulièrement à l’Olympia dans les années 1950-60 et s’impose, diva toujours vaillante, auprès d’une nouvelle génération de spectateurs. Elle obtient un grand succès en 1959 avec la revue Paris mes amours, qui permet à « The Fabulous Joséphine Baker » de retourner se produire aux Etats-Unis. Mais le stress de la gestion des Milandes et l’éducation de ses très nombreux enfants adoptifs a son effet sur la santé de Joséphine, qui ne cesse de se produire à un rythme accéléré pour éviter de devoir vendre son domaine. Elle obtiendra le soutien de personnalités comme Bruno Coquatrix ou Dalida pour maintenir les Milandes à flot mais finira par en être expulsée en 1969. Elle rebondit grâce à son activité artistique : elle se produit à La Goulue, au bal de la Croix-Rouge Monégasque. Avec l’aide de Grace de Monaco, elle s’installe à Roquebrune avec sa tribu. En 1973, elle se produit avec succès au Carnegie Hall de New York. Le 8 avril 1975, elle entame à Bobino, devant un parterre de personnalités et un public venu en masse, un spectacle célébrant ses cinquante ans de carrière. Mais cette apothéose sera brève : le 12 avril 1975, s’étant endormie pour une sieste, elle ne se réveille pas et meurt d’une hémorragie cérébrale. Ses funérailles, suivies par la télévision, attirent un immense cortège.

Diva aujourd’hui statufiée, Joséphine Baker aura contribué à introduire en Europe, de manière fracassante, la musique noire américaine et une forme de sensualité débridée alors inédite pour le grand public. Au-delà de l’image d’Epinal du régime de bananes, Joséphine Baker aura été, plus encore qu’une chanteuse et danseuse excentrique, une authentique personnalité, dont la portée humaine éclipse le mérite artistique. Elle aura été néanmoins au confluent des modes et des imageries, incarnant une vision idéalisée du nègre, puis une nostalgie du glamour hollywoodien, sans cesser avant tout, de représenter jusqu’au bout, un type de femme de spectacle libre et magistral.

Voir encore:

Would the perfect family contain a child from every race?
Josephine Baker thought so – and adopted a ‘rainbow tribe’ of children to prove her point. This is the story of an extraordinary 20th-century experiment
Matthew Pratt Guterl
The Telegraph
19 Apr 2014

Before Josephine Baker was 20 years old, she was a totem of primeval sex. On the high-end stages of Paris, wearing a banana skirt or a ring of palm fronds, she arched, shimmied, twisted and smiled all at once. The “wicked Josephine Baker”, as one writer archly described her, was a “lubricious idol”, the embodiment of “carnal splendour” who “drives males to despair”. The poet EE Cummings, a member of the “Lost Generation” of writers drifting across Europe in the Twenties, remembered her as a “wand of golden flesh” to be loved, loathed and feared. At the peak of this sexualised celebrity, she would stroll down the Champs-Élysées with a cheetah on a leash, two exotic creatures, objects of obsession and dread, spectacularly out of place amid the neoclassical buildings that lined the grand boulevard.

Baker used her race as a fetish to lure white audiences, got rich fast and became a superstar. Late in life, she decided to change her image and change the world. She did something so unexpected and so dramatic that it still resonates today.

In 1953, after a decade of planning, Josephine Baker built a family from scratch. She set out to adopt a cadre of what she imagined as racially diverse children from around the world, bringing them to south-west France in what was the start of an extraordinary experiment. Out of the French countryside, she created a vast theme park-cum-circus – complete with hotels, a collective farm, rides and, of course, singing and dancing – that would focus on the family of the future, which she vaingloriously named the “Rainbow Tribe”. Baker trained the children to be racial exemplars, to represent specific continents, religions and histories. She dispatched them as walking, talking and sometimes costumed icons of racial typecasting, over the sprawling campus surrounding Les Milandes, her name for the 15th-century castle at the centre of this enterprise. And she used them, collectively, as a blunt instrument in her war against racism and prejudice.

No one had seen a black woman adopt a white child before. No one had seen a black woman adopt 12 children. Or raise them in a castle. Or house them in a theme park. Or use them in advertisements. Or portray them as soldiers in a struggle for justice.

In early 1953, Le Monde reported that Baker was on the verge of becoming “the mother of a family of all colours”. Speaking to the press from Monte Carlo, Baker described her new family of adopted children, drawn to France from around the world, but especially from the global south — south-east Asia, north and west Africa, and Latin America. Describing Baker as “an ardent proselyte of the antiracial struggle”, the paper emphasised the political function of the family, noting that the children would be “raised like brothers”, though each would “maintain the language, the dress, the customs and the religion of his/her country”.

“I will make every effort so that each shows the utmost respect for the opinions and beliefs of the other,” Baker claimed. “I want to show people of colour that not all whites are cruel and mean. I will prove that human beings can respect each other if given the chance.”

Baker’s autobiography suggests that the decision to adopt had nothing to do with radical politics, at least at first. As her former husband Jo Bouillon explained later, she was on a tour of the Americas after the war when her quest to have a child came to an end. The tour had been a triumphant return to the stage, and she had danced and sung her way from Argentina to Peru. “I think I’m pregnant, Jo!” she said one day, bursting with excitement. Bouillon, worried about her health, tried to cancel the tour, but Baker, ever the self-sacrificing star, reminded him that “a contract’s a contract” before adding that she felt “marvellous”.

The talk of babies had put Bouillon in a reflective mood. There were so many needy children in the world, he mused. “Why not adopt?” Baker asked, newly pregnant but also plotting her future quest for more. “Why not, chérie,” the agreeable Bouillon responded, saying: “What we can’t manufacture, we’ll find ready made.”

The innocent dream of a fairy-tale prince (or princess) and his adopted sibling, Bouillon tells us, ended in Mexico. There, Baker enjoyed a day of singing with children who were members of a travelling French choir. “That night the pains began,” he remembered, and by morning, “her hopes of motherhood had been destroyed, probably for good”.

By the end of 1953, Baker had settled the first of her children into her restored chateau in Castelnaud-Fayrac. The eager partnership of her husband, the pliant and accompanying bandleader Bouillon, made it easier for her to adopt.

Writing to her friend Miki Sawada in May that year, Baker outlined her plans to visit Japan in July. Sawada had become involved in the care and adoption of war orphans – chiefly mixed-race children, assumed to be outcasts in Japan because of their impure birth – and, in 1948, she founded the Elizabeth Saunders Home, named after an Englishwoman who had served as a governess in her family.

After addressing some logistics of the trip, Baker got to the heart of the matter: she wanted Sawada to find her a son. “I want you,” she said, with great specificity, “to find me a little baby, a pure-bred Japanese, a little boy of two years I can adopt.” She continued: “I will adopt five small boys of two years each,” including a “dark-skinned black” from South Africa, “an Indian from Peru, a Nordic and an Israelite. These small children will be like brothers, live together as a symbol of democracy.”

A short while later, she was in Sawada’s orphanage, surrounded by “children with straight black hair and dancing, slanting eyes”. Drawn to one young child who was “as supple as a little fish”, she asked about his background and was told that he was Korean and had been “found beneath an open umbrella that sheltered him from the elements”. The child, named Akio, was carrying a decorative plaque “engraved with the precepts of Buddhism”. “You won’t regret it,” Sawada told her, endorsing the selection. “He’s a sweet, loving child.”

Then, turning to leave, Baker spied “a grave-face baby” sitting by a tree. “He was tiny, much smaller than Akio, with solemn eyes,” she remembered. Struck by something in the child’s gaze, she announced: “I’ll take him, too.” Named Teruya, he was part Japanese and of the Shinto religion, a complement to the half-Korean, Buddhist Akio. (Once back in France, however, Baker would change his name to Janot, which she found easier to pronounce.)

As she presented the pair to Bouillon at the Souillac rail station, she was asked by her husband: “Which one is it?” “Both,” she answered. “You were right to order a double helping,” Bouillon replied. After taking a moment to catch his breath, he said: “This way we’ll be twice as happy.”

Soon after adopting Akio and Janot, Josephine found herself on a lecture tour in Scandinavia and hoping for a third child. Miraculously, a “towheaded, chubby, pink- and-white baby boy”, in an orphanage, “kicked back his covers and held his arms out to me”. She had good timing, too, she wrote, because it seemed that the boy was only days away from being turned out of the orphanage.

Another child had been saved. Baker renamed him Jarry and had him baptised a Protestant, then brought him back to Les Milandes. She had great plans to educate the children in their native tongues, but that proved difficult. When Jarry was reunited with his Finnish-speaking birth mother years later, they needed to speak through a translator. Baker’s autobiography gives the story of Jarry’s adoption a veneer of truth. His story, though, was messier than she knew.

One-year-old Jarry had been placed in the orphanage as a temporary matter, a consequence of an infant sister at home who was ill. Baker had been guided to the orphanage by a wealthy friend and driven there by Jarry’s birth father, an ambitious chauffeur in the midst of a marital dispute with his wife. “My father arranged everything,” Jarry later said. He tricked his wife into signing release papers for the boy, presented the infant to Baker as an ideal type and pocketed the cash for the transaction. He made sure that young Jarry was in just the right place at just the right time, ready to kick off those covers and hold out those arms. “I leant over the blue-eyed Finn,” Baker remembered, “certain that he was the one.” Hoodwinked to make her “choice”, she had unwittingly stolen away a child.

The creation of such a mixed family required diversity that could be easily seen and understood. This was no time for subtlety or nuance. What Baker needed were representative types, human metaphors who could be displayed together for visual contrast, and whose play together could make a bigger point about common humanity and the roots of racism. “She wanted a doll,” Jean-Claude Baker, a later addition to the Tribe, said.

Soon Luis joined the family from Colombia. Then, in late 1955, the younger Jean-Claude (originally Phillippe) and Moïse arrived. Baker’s original plans had included a Jewish child, and she laboured to procure one, but these plans got scrambled. Bouillon and Baker ultimately adopted a French orphan – “a dark-skinned baby”, Bouillon recalled — assigned him a Jewish identity and named him Moïse.

In 1956, Marianne and Brahim, both from Algeria, arrived. “Look at them, Jo,” Baker exclaimed, composing improbable backstories for them. “He’s a Berber, probably the son of a wet nurse; she undoubtedly is a colonialist’s daughter.” Baker chose to raise one as a Muslim and the other as a Catholic, a perfect example of her use of hardline means to secure utopian ends.

Then Koffi came from Côte d’Ivoire and Mara from Venezuela. Poor Noël, found in a rubbish dump on Christmas Eve, was brought to Les Milandes in 1959. And the last was little Stellina, the child of a Moroccan émigré to Paris, arriving in 1964. All 12 children, in the end, would be stereotypes brought to life. “Akio,” Bouillon later said, summarising the children once they were adults, was a typical Korean, “almond-eyed, sensitive, serious”. Jarry was possessed of “Nordic fairness and stamina”. Jean-Claude (or Phillippe), “our blond Frenchman”, was “blessed with innate equilibrium”. Brahim, “the son of an Arab”, and Marianne, the granddaughter of a pied-noir, captured the two sides at war in Algeria. Luis, the Colombian, was already married with children by that time, a fecund Latin through and through.

The colourful spectacle of Les Milandes was meant to be seen. Outside, Baker built up the grounds, installed car parks, established facilities for guests and set up an advertising campaign. She installed games and rides for children, and inscribed the entire place with her personality and celebrity. The result was an enclosed, self-contained theme park, a vision of an alternate world in which magic and fantasy were real and thematically organised around a positive vision of the racial future.

The entire point of visiting Les Milandes was to see the children. They seemed like outsized Disney characters, performing scripted and rehearsed roles for a public they would never truly meet, escorted around the park by their parents. “We were living in that castle by ourselves, all together,” Jarry said, “and then suddenly everything is open and everyone is on top of my mother and talking to me.”

Visitors came in their thousands, though not, Baker was disappointed to learn, in numbers large enough to ensure the long-term profitability of Les Milandes.

If a family is a collection of individuals, Baker’s assemblage presented itself as something quite distinct. But it also worked differently. “I was one in the family,” Jarry remembered. “There was no independence. It was everybody or nobody.” In Monaco, years after Les Milandes, when the older boys wanted to see a movie, they had to choose a film that would also satisfy five-year-old Stellina.

Baker did nothing to hide her orchestration of their performance from the children. One morning, she brought them into the dorm for a family meeting. “I adopted you because I cannot have children,” she began. “I united all of you,” Jarry recalled her saying, because “in the world they are always fighting between countries and races, coloured, white and black”. Going around the room, she told each child the reason for their adoption, citing abandonment or, in Jarry’s case, the divorce of his parents. “That is why I want you to be a family,” she continued, turning them into stakeholders in her project. “We knew that we were brothers from different countries,” Jarry said. “[We] had the sense that we had to show the world that the union of races, religions, whatever, was possible.”

For Jarry, speaking to the German magazine Der Spiegel in 2009, this meant that the children often felt like “pet monkeys”. Sometimes they would be at the big metal gates of the chateau. Sometimes they would sneak away to a lower tier of the garden, though there was often a wall of faces above, watching and taking pictures. Sometimes they would be with their mother inside the brasserie, greeting their public through a glass door. “We grew in Les Milandes like a regular family,” Jarry said. “We had fights. When you are kid, when you are obliged to do things, you go out with your mother and father, and suddenly you have all these people taking pictures, you get tired.” Being a “family” was one thing, he said, but “show business” was different. At Les Milandes, he said, the family was show business. And it was endlessly tiring.

Most of the children were sent to their homelands after Les Milandes. Koffi’s return to Côte d’Ivoire was supposed to last for two years. Arriving from France, he was labelled a “faux noir”, his only connection to the cultures and peoples of his homeland coming from books. Mara, for his part, had not been back to Venezuela since he was two months old. On the flight to Caracas, Baker explained soberly that if Mara wanted “to stay with them” – with his family – she would understand. Landing at the newly opened La Chinita airport, Mara found the runway mobbed with relatives and friends of relatives. Like Koffi, he walked away from the experience with a profound sense of the vast distance between his life and that of his birth family. He noted the “obvious poverty” of his relatives and his shock at their repeated requests for money. “You can’t blame them,” Baker explained, “they’re desperate.”

Jarry’s story was different. When he was discovered one afternoon in the bathtub with another boy, Baker marched the teenager out in front of the Tribe. Raising the problem of “contamination”, she asked for a family vote on whether he could stay, since queerness was a serious crime for Baker. And then, the court martial complete, she shipped him off to Buenos Aires.

The tumultuous Seventies featured a rebelliousness of affect and aesthetic, slogans and symbols. Knowing this, Baker policed her children’s sexuality, homing in on the clothing, moustaches and long hair of the boys. However, they refused to bend to her will. She imported male authority figures, without any luck. She declined to discuss her own youthful rebellions. She drew lines in the sand, fought for authority on every issue and engaged in extreme parental brinkmanship. And eventually, after one too many arguments and fights, she just plain old “gave up”.

Baker envisioned the family as a United Nations, rich with linguistic, religious, racial and national diversity. Her emphasis was always on extraordinary variety, a diversity that went far beyond skin tone. But by the Seventies, her family was a political liability. Her parenting seemed to trivialise the children, to turn them into rich adornments for their mother. To activists, it was no longer clear what problems were best addressed by the gaudy spectacle of the Rainbow Tribe. The age of idealistic marches was over, and the age of riots, deteriorating cityscapes and white flight had arrived. It wasn’t just that the civil rights consensus had been fractured or that de Gaulle was gone; it was, instead, that the world was drifting toward a future in which Josephine Baker and the Rainbow Tribe seemed like a quaint reminder of the past.

‘Josephine Baker and the Rainbow Tribe’ by Matthew Pratt Guterl (Harvard University Press, RRP £21.95) is available to order from Telegraph Books at £19.95 + £1.35 p&p.

Voir de plus:

Adopting the World

Josephine Baker’s Rainbow Tribe

Merlind Theile

Der Spiegel online

10/02/2009

Long before Angelina Jolie, Mia Farrow and Madonna made headlines with their adoptive families, 1920s star Josephine Baker tried to combat racism by adopting 12 children of various ethnic backgrounds from around the world. Today the members of her « rainbow tribe » are still searching for their identity.

He is trying to describe what it was like to grow up here, to trace the vestiges of his childhood, but not much of that remains in this chateau that was once his home.

Today Akio Bouillon, a slight, affable man of Japanese origin, can only serve as a guide through an exhibit that pays tribute to his dead mother. In the former living room, a dozen of her robes are now displayed on headless mannequins, and in the study lies a semi-nude wax figure of Bouillon’s mother, with a string of flowers draped around the neck. The « banana skirt » that made her famous hangs in a glass case; strips of gold material in the shape of bananas are attached to a narrow belt. His mother was the singer and entertainer Josephine Baker.

Bouillon, her oldest adopted son, turned 57 in July. He walks across creaking floorboards and into Baker’s bathroom, with its black tiles and Dior bottles, and then into a series of rooms filled with photos, posters and her jewelry. Somewhere in this labyrinth is the small room where Bouillon slept as a child. Today, the bed is cordoned off from the hallway with a velvet rope, and a sign admonishes visitors not to touch anything.

He stands in front of the bed, smiles faintly and says that it was a nice childhood, for him and his 11 siblings.

Bouillon points to a poster on the wall, made from an old, black-and-white photo. It depicts little Akio, age 6, smiling at the camera, holding a white cat on his arm.

It is the only image visitors see of Baker’s 12 adopted children, and Bouillon is the only one of them who still travels, once a year, to Château des Milandes in France’s southwestern Périgord region. One of his brothers has already died, and the other 10 siblings avoid the chateau, which was purchased by strangers long ago. They don’t want their photos to be exhibited here. They are tired of being put on display.

Vision of a Better Life

Jarry Baker, the third adopted son, hasn’t been to the chateau in two decades. Now 55, he is a short, blonde man of Finnish descent with reddish cheeks. He moved far away, to New York, because it was the place where he could be himself.

Every day at noon, he takes the train from New Jersey to the Port Authority station in Manhattan, and walks a few blocks to « Chez Josephine » on 42nd Street, where he works as a waiter. The restaurant pays tribute to his dead mother, with pictures, photos and posters on its walls. The restaurant is near Broadway, and many of its customers are artists and gays.

Jarry Baker, who is also gay, likes the place. He was the opposite of what his adoptive mother had expected, and that was his undoing.

Misfortune often begins with visions, and Josephine Baker had her own vision. She did something that many celebrities would later emulate: She adopted children from poor countries to give them the opportunity of a better life.

Adoption is supposed to be an opportunity for children like Maddox, a boy that actress Angelina Jolie adopted in Cambodia, and Mercy, a girl from Malawi the singer Madonna recently adopted after the country’s highest court approved the contested adoption — even though Mercy still has a father in her native village. Madonna told the court that she could offer Mercy a better life — a common argument. The stars want to set an example and use their celebrity status to do good. Sometimes it’s about big ideas, promoting understanding among nations or putting an end to racism.

Looking for a Way Out

Perhaps Josephine Baker began adopting children as a way to compensate for her own unhappy childhood. Her life offered her many reasons to yearn for fame and family. Her mother, a black laundress from St. Louis, Missouri, was impregnated by a white man, and she kept his identity a secret. In the United States in 1906, a relationship, let alone marriage, with Josephine’s father would have been unthinkable.

The mother had three more children and raised them on her own. From the age of eight, Josephine had to work, for example in kitchens where she cleaned and washed dishes. At 11, she witnessed race riots directed against African-Americans in which dozens of people were murdered, the sort of thing that was not uncommon in the southern United States at the time. When she was 13, her mother found her a husband so that she would be taken care of.

But Josephine wanted a way out of her life in St. Louis. She had taught herself to dance and sing as a child, and she wanted to be on stage.

She joined a vaudeville troupe at 14, and at 15 she married her second husband, William Baker, the son of a Philadelphia restaurant owner.

She would later keep his name, because she wanted to be known as Josephine Baker. She worked hard, danced on Broadway and was determined to become a star.

The Lust for Pleasure

In 1926, she bent over in her banana skirt, practically nude, in a revue at the Folies-Bergère in Paris. The audience was ecstatic. It was the roaring 20s, and in Europe’s cities, where people celebrated with abandon, Josephine Baker, as a nude, exotic woman, satisfied their lust for pleasure.

Baker was a sex symbol, a role she relished, sleeping with men and women — thousands, as she would later say. But none of this love-making gave her what she wanted most. She married a third time, but she still couldn’t get pregnant. She was infertile.

She threw herself into her work, discovering a new passion in World War II. She supported the French resistance movement, and was given a uniform and awarded many decorations. By then, Baker was rich and famous, and yet there was still a gaping hole in her life.

The war ended. Baker, now in her 40s, was no longer a sex symbol. She needed a new role. Like Madonna decades later, she felt the need to constantly reinvent herself.

In 1947, Baker married her fourth husband, French orchestra leader Jo Bouillon. She bought a Renaissance castle in Périgord, the Château des Milandes, with more than 30 rooms, surrounded by 400 hectares (1,000 acres) of land.

Fighting Racism

She was practically royalty by then, but she was still black. When she visited the United States, she could only enter some hotels through a back entrance.

She was determined to fight this racism. And now she owned a chateau. A plan began to take shape in Baker’s mind.

In early 1954, she gave a talk in Copenhagen. She wanted to make a gesture of humanity, she said, explaining that she wanted to « adopt five little boys » — one from each continent.

When Baker traveled to Japan in the spring to pick up her first child, Akio had been in an orphanage for 18 months. He had been abandoned in Yokohama shortly after birth, on a rainy day in September 1952. A woman had walked into a small shop carrying a bundle in her arms and asked if she could leave the baby there for a moment so that she could get an umbrella.

Baker adopted Akio and another baby and took them to Château des Milandes, where more than 100 employees were hired to transform the estate into a center of brotherliness, and a place where celebrities and weekend guests could meet. The main attraction would be Baker’s new family, in its splendid array of skin colors. Baker called the family her « Rainbow Tribe. » It was front-page news.

In that same year, she adopted her third child, a 12-year-old Finnish boy from Helsinki with pale skin and light-blonde hair. His name was Jari, but he would later call himself Jarry after she rejected him.

Child number four was a black baby from Columbia. Child number five: a white baby from France.

Growing Family

Baker’s husband, Jo Bouillon, managed her affairs at Les Milandes and struggled to raise the children. His wife was constantly on tour, bringing home a new child from practically every trip. But she was only interested in adopting boys, fearing that romantic attachments could develop between the children.

Then, in 1956, came the sixth and seventh children: a male baby and the first female infant, both from Algeria.

Enough, Bouillon told his wife. Who is going to raise them all? he asked.

A rotating assortment of nannies looked after the children until Baker fired them. She would occasionally storm around the estate, furiously ordering gardeners to replant shrubs, only to slap them afterwards for having done so. She redecorated the chateau, hosted wild parties and took off again.

Child number eight, a white boy from France, arrived in 1957. Baker told the press that he was from Israel. She had been missing a Jew in her tribe.

Demanding Affection

In photos taken at the time, the chateau looks more like an orphanage than a real home. The children slept in a room in the attic, in eight small beds lined up in a row. Whenever Baker returned home, even if it happened to be at 3 a.m., she would wake the children and demand affection.

Jari, the Finn, was a quiet boy, but Akio, the eldest, was the quietest of them all, not speaking at all until he was four.

Today, he knows quite a lot about the trauma of adopted children, and about the special care they need, especially if they are from faraway countries. They are doubly homeless from the beginning, not knowing where they belong, and some crumble under the strain. They are more susceptible to addiction and emotional disorders than children who grow up with their biological parents.

Every adopted child needs the full attention of his or her new parents. By this time, Baker had eight children, and there were more to come.

The ninth child, a black baby from the Ivory Coast, came in 1958.

A Dream Childhood?

On the surface, the children seemed to have a dream childhood. They were living in a castle, like children in a fairy tale. They played with knights’ armor tucked into nooks along the spiral steps to the tower, romped in the gardens, built tree houses and frolicked with the dogs. Akio remembers that he and his brothers often caught flying beetles and tied them to strings to keep them from flying away. The children carried them around like balloons.

Every year at Christmas, the presents were piled high to the ceiling in the castle. Monstrous, says Jarry. It was Baker’s way of showing affection for the children. Their duty, in return, was to allow themselves to be shown off to the public.

On the occasional Sunday when she was there, Baker would dress the children in white and have them line up in the courtyard, where tourists and the press were waiting behind a fence to take pictures. Jarry says that he and the other children sometimes felt like pet monkeys.

Child number 10, a small indigenous boy from Venezuela, came in 1959. The global mother needed to complete her collection.

Financial Ruin

Today there are regulations governing international adoptions. Before a child is given up for adoption, authorities must verify that all options to keep the child from being removed from the country have been exhausted. This is always seen as the better solution.

The situation was different half a century ago. Besides, Baker was a star. She had influential friends, like Princess Grace of Monaco, and she had money. Not all of her children were orphans. In some cases, she simply bought babies from their destitute parents. For example, to adopt blonde Jari, the diminutive Finn, she simply paid his parents in Helsinki a few thousand dollars and the deal was sealed.

In 1960, she got child number 11: a white infant from France.

It had all become too much for Baker’s husband. After years of her escapades and their arguments, Bouillon left the chateau, and in 1963 he moved to Buenos Aires. Without him and his business acumen, the estate was doomed to financial ruin. The children lost their father figure, the only person who had given them some structure in Baker’s chaotic world.

In 1964, child number 12, the last child, was acquired: a little girl from Morocco.

Vacations with Castro

Baker traveled the world with the children. They met the pope and vacationed with Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

The situation at the chateau spun out of control. All the employees, private tutors, monkeys and other animals she had acquired were eating up Baker’s fortune. She managed to fend off bankruptcy for a few more years, stubbornly living her dream, an aging regent who tolerated no back talk and treated the children like subjects.

She wrote reports about them, described their characters in detail and drafted plans for their future. Akio was to become a diplomat, Jari a hotelier. Another child was supposed to be a doctor. But none of them were to be artists. She even banned music instruction. After they had received their education and training, the children were to return to the countries where they had come from and make themselves useful there, as Baker’s envoys and as the loyal executors of her ideas.

None of the children stuck to the plan.

Teenage Rebellion

They rebelled when they reached puberty. Baker had acquired 10 sons, with only seven years separating the youngest and the oldest, and they turned into a horde of hyperactive teenagers — going out at night, falling in love, staying away for days at a time, rattling around the neighborhood on their mopeds, getting drunk, taking drugs, stealing and wearing hippy clothes that their mother didn’t like. But her slaps no longer intimidated them. They were as wild and unruly as a pack of young wolves, and Baker had little experience as a mother.

She lost the chateau in 1969, and when she refused to leave she was carried out against her will. She sat on the steps in the rain for two days, covered with only a plaid wool blanket. The photo quickly appeared in newspapers around the world.

The children went to boarding schools or, like Akio and Jari, moved to Buenos Aires to live with their adoptive father, whose surname most of them have kept. Akio had a falling out with his mother a few months before Baker’s sudden death in 1975. His Christmas present had arrived too late, causing an argument that the two would never resolve. Akio was the only child not to attend the funeral in Monaco, which was hosted by Princess Grace.

‘Nobody’s Perfect’

Akio now lives in an apartment building on the outskirts of Paris, works in a bank, smokes large numbers of cigarillos and likes to watch animated films. He relates information about streets and squares as we walk through the city. He often walks around aimlessly, without any destination in mind, he says.

And he is often alone. He was in a relationship with an alcoholic for 15 years, until she finally left him, and he has been single since then. He knows nothing about his Japanese mother. Baker wanted to make sure that the children would never search for their biological families, and in some cases she even withheld information.

A Japanese journalist who recently investigated Akio’s story found the woman who had worked in the small shop in Yokohama where he was left as a baby in 1952. He gave Bouillon the information and suggested that the woman might know something about his biological mother. All he had to do was contact her, perhaps by writing her a letter. Bouillon has been carrying around the address for a year now. He says he doesn’t know how to begin the letter.

Did Baker do the right thing? « She was a great artist, and she was our mother, » says Akio Bouillon. « Mothers make mistakes. Nobody’s perfect. »

Bouillon says that his mother proved that people of different skin colors could live together as equals. « I love my brothers and sisters, » says Bouillon. They all keep in touch by telephone. He says he feels closest to Jarry, because they were together when their adoptive father died in 1984.

Ordinary Lives

The last time all 12 children were together in one place was in 1976, shortly after the death of their famous mother. Even in the last year of her life, Baker, to earn money, performed on a Paris stage, wearing a sequined dress and a towering feather headdress.

The children never wanted to be celebrities. They live ordinary lives — working as gardeners, greengrocers or insurance agents. Child number eight died of cancer 10 years ago. Child number 11 became schizophrenic and now lives in an institution. Some of the siblings married and had children, while others remained single.

None of them adopted children.

« We are completely normal people, » says Akio Bouillon. He and his siblings want to feel like a family, not a project.

Media Spotlight

Sometimes Bouillon flips through magazines and sees the photos of today’s rainbow tribes, of Madonna with her children from Malawi, of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, traveling around the world with their six small children and their nannies, in the glare of the media spotlight. But he doesn’t feel taken aback by the images. In fact, they make him feel proud.

« It’s great, » he says. « These stars are following in my mother’s footsteps. » Of course, he adds, the paparazzi are a problem, as is their constant quest for pictures of the children. But when Jolie adopts a baby from the Third World, says Bouillon, there is also a higher principle at work. « When these children grow up, they’ll understand. »

Bouillon feels that his adoptive mother made a great and enduring contribution, and that our impression of Josephine Baker should not be clouded by her weaknesses. She was, as he says, a child of her time, a time when even stricter morals applied. That helps to explain why she and Jari didn’t get along, he says.

The Banished Son

Jarry Baker is sitting in Chez Josephine in New York, talking about his dead mother, a subject that makes him visibly uncomfortable. Although it is still morning and the air-conditioned room is cold, Baker’s cheeks are flushed and his hands are trembling.

« She was too possessive, » he says. « We weren’t allowed to develop the way we wanted to. » He knew he was gay by the time he was seven or eight. When Jari was 15, Baker caught him in the bathtub with another boy. She called together the family, reprimanded him in front of everyone else and sent him to live with his father in Buenos Aires. She was afraid that he could infect his brothers.

Josephine Baker — the bisexual revue star, darling of gays and drag queens, civil rights activist — banished her son because he loved men.

When asked whether he has forgiven her, Jarry Baker waves his hand dismissively and says: « Yes, who cares. She didn’t want us to grow. Maybe she was afraid that we would out-grow her. » At times he seems almost thankful for having been rejected by his mother. « It was like being liberated. »

Caught in Baker’s Shadow

In New York, restaurateur Jean-Claude Baker gave him a job and a place to stay. Most of all, Jarry was now living somewhere where he could openly kiss his lover on the street. He doesn’t mind working in the restaurant, says Baker. In fact, he says, he is pleased that the owner is preserving Josephine’s memory.

Jean-Claude Baker, 66, was one of Josephine’s companions — a gay man, like many of her friends. They performed together in the last years of her life. She called him her 13th child; he took on her name. But the two had a falling-out before her death.

He still lives in her world today. He has named his restaurant after her and decorated it with images of her. He has also written the most detailed biography of Baker to date. Like many who were very close to her, he seems caught in her shadow.

Child of a Rainbow Tribe

On a hot Sunday in July in New York, the city’s annual Gay Pride Parade slowly makes its way south along Fifth Avenue. At the front of the parade are lesbians on their Harleys, followed by gay police officers, firefighters and doctors, and above it all flies the rainbow flag, the symbol of the gay and lesbian movement.

Jarry Baker, the child of a rainbow tribe, stands on the sidewalk with a flag in his hand. He likes watching the parade — not every year, as he did at the start, but once in a while. He watches the floats, listens to the music and waves to the hooting, beaming parade-goers as they pass by.

He doesn’t know how much longer he will stay in New York. He says he would like to move to Australia or New Zealand and set up a farm. Then he says that he’d like to return to Argentina. And then, later, he says that he feels very comfortable in Finland, where he has family.

A Finnish journalist tracked down Jarry Baker’s mother and his siblings and flew with him to Helsinki. It was 14 years ago. Jarry says that they got along marvelously, and that he felt close to them. He has visited them twice since then. Three visits in 14 years.

The last of the floats pass by. « Those people look so happy, » says Jarry Baker, as he stands on the sidewalk, looking down the street at the parade, waving his rainbow flag.

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan

Voir encore:

Josephine Baker’s Rainbow Tribe

To prove that racial harmony was possible, the dancer adopted 12 children from around the globe—and charged admission to watch them coexist.

Rebecca Onion
Slate
April 18 2014

Beginning in 1953, almost 30 years after her first successful performances on the Paris stage, the singer and dancer Josephine Baker adopted 12 children from different countries, ranging from Finland to Venezuela. She installed what she called her “Rainbow Tribe” in a 15th-century chateau in the South of France and charged admission to tourists who came to hear them sing, to tour their home, or to watch them play leapfrog in their garden.

This little-known chapter in Baker’s life is an uncomfortable one. “I would begin to tell the story of Josephine Baker, and people would start to laugh,” says Matthew Pratt Guterl, the author of a new book on Baker’s later life, Josephine Baker and the Rainbow Tribe. “And I would start to wonder what that laughter signified.” Guterl, a professor of Africana studies and American studies at Brown University, has in essence written two books in one: the story of Baker’s family, and a meditation on the meaning of that laughter.

Baker was born in St. Louis but moved to France in 1925. Her danse sauvage, famously performed in a banana skirt, brought her international fame. During World War II, she worked for the Red Cross and gathered intelligence for the French Resistance. After the war, married to her fourth husband, Jo Bouillon, she struggled to conceive a child. Meanwhile, her career waned. Guterl’s book is about this period of Baker’s life, as she built her large adopted family, became ever more active on behalf of the nascent civil rights movement in the United States, and re-emerged into fame.

Baker purchased her estate, known as Les Milandes, after marrying Bouillon in 1947. In addition to the chateau, the property boasted a motel, a bakery, cafés, a jazz club, a miniature golf course, and a wax museum telling the story of Baker’s life. As Guterl makes clear, the place was over-the-top, but its ostentation was a political statement. Les Milandes, with its fairy-tale setting, announced to the world that African-American girls born poor could transcend nation and race and find wealth and happiness.

At the center of the attractions were Baker’s adopted children, from Finland, Japan, France, Belgium, Venezuela. During their school-age years, the 10 boys and two girls grew up in public. Just by existing as a multiracial, multinational family, they demonstrated Baker’s belief in the possibility of equality. They sang songs for paying visitors, appeared in print advertisements, gave interviews to curious press, and played in a courtyard in full view of what Guterl describes as “a wall of faces, watching and taking pictures.”

You can see why this chapter of Baker’s story provokes laughter. First, there’s a deep discomfort at her unapologetic marshaling of children to act out her own utopian racial narrative. Second, we think we understand what’s going on here; we see early incarnations of celebrity eccentricities from our own time. In the big adoptive family, we see Angelina or Madonna; in the celebrity theme park, we see Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch. “The language of the strange and famous is readily available to us,” Guterl writes in the book’s prologue. “This same easy familiarity makes it harder to understand Les Milandes, not easier, because we rarely allow celebrity egocentrism to be serious or important.”

What would the Rainbow Tribe look like if we took it seriously? Guterl steps back, seeing the Tribe from Baker’s point of view. Baker was always an activist, wielding her international fame in the service of the civil rights movement in the United States. When she visited the States in the 1950s, she demanded that she be allowed to stay at the best hotels and play to integrated audiences.

Another bit of context: The Rainbow Tribe wasn’t the first, or the only, project of its kind. As Guterl notes, large, public, transracial families were a Cold War phenomenon in the United States. At a time when Americans worried about spreading communist influence in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, these “U.N. families,” featuring members from all continents, showed that “everyone, really, could be brought into the Western system.”

Guterl points to 1951 Life magazine coverage of the family of Helen and Carl Doss, a religious couple who adopted nine children, many of whom were from Asian countries; the story of the novelist Pearl S. Buck, who adopted seven children of different races and became a public advocate for interracial adoption; even the early history of the infamous Rev. Jim Jones, who adopted an interracial group that he nicknamed the Rainbow Family and that formed the core of his utopian cult.

Like these groups, Baker’s Rainbow Tribe was the product of careful planning for symbolic value. Children were renamed and raised in different religious traditions so they could be more typical of the racial and national types that Baker had decided should be represented in the Tribe. Some kids received new backstories. Baker wanted an Israeli child, but the Israeli welfare minister refused (telling her, “We cannot sanction taking a child away from Israel when great efforts are being made to bring children to Israel”). Undaunted, Baker adopted a French orphan, named him Moïse (French for “Moses”), and decided that he would be raised Jewish.

By dressing the children up in strong national, ethnic, and religious identities, Baker could make a political point about the human capacity to get along despite differences. In reading the historical record—Baker’s correspondence, contemporary media coverage, other documentation—Guterl found it hard to discern the children’s individuality. “Their voices were significantly less important,” he writes, “than their performance as an ensemble, their presentation as part of a single object.”

The performance was difficult to sustain, however. As her adoptive children aged, Baker ran out of money and was forced to sell Les Milandes. The last few chapters of Guterl’s book, which tell the story of what happened to the Tribe as they grew older, are tinged with tragedy. Baker struggled with health problems and became less relevant to the American civil rights movement as it moved into high visibility in the late 1960s. She still performed, but any kind of rigorous schedule was a strain, and her career couldn’t generate enough money to sustain the large family she had created.

As Baker’s finances crumbled, she moved the Rainbow Tribe to Monaco to live in a less grand home paid for by Baker’s friend and patron Princess Grace. Here the kids, now entering their teenage years and, in some cases, chafing at their public lives, began to resist Baker’s authority. Baker looked for ways to farm the children out to others. Bouillon, Baker’s husband at the time of the adoptions, was now her latest ex; some of the kids went to live with him. Others went to boarding schools. Baker sent a small group—including Marianne (adopted from France), whose teenage love affairs drove Baker to distraction—to live with a longtime Baker fan in the U.K. In perhaps the saddest and most puzzling outcome, when Baker found out that Jarry (adopted from Finland) was gay, she chastised him in front of his siblings before sending him away to live with Bouillon in Buenos Aires.

But Guterl’s is not a book to read if you want to revel in the downfall of what seems like an ill-conceived experiment. The author, who told me that he grew up in a large, multiracial adopted family himself, is close to the subject matter. “This was a very hard book to write,” he told me. While Guterl did interview three members of the Tribe, he resists offering up all of the gory details.

In Guterl’s book, and in other interviews they’ve given, the grown-up adoptees generally remember their childhoods at Les Milandes with fondness. As for their relationships with their mother, they are reluctant to comment. Interviewed by Der Spiegel in 2009, Jarry said, “She was too possessive. We weren’t allow to develop the way we wanted to.” Akio (adopted from Japan) offered a more charitable assessment: “She was a great artist, and she was our mother. Mothers make mistakes. Nobody’s perfect.”

Voir enfin:

(1963) Josephine Baker, “Speech at the March on Washington”
Josephine Baker is remembered by most people as the flamboyant African American entertainer who earned fame and fortune in Paris in the 1920s.  Yet through much of her later life, Baker became a vocal opponent of  segregation and discrimination, often initiating one-woman protests against racial injustice.  In 1963, at the age of 57, Baker flew in from France, her adopted homeland, to appear before the largest audience in her career, the 250,000 gathered at the March on Washington.  Wearing her uniform of the French Resistance, of which she was active in World War II, she was the only woman to address the audience.  What she said appears below.

Friends and family…you know I have lived a long time and I have come a long way.  And you must know now that what I did, I did originally for myself.  Then later, as these things began happening to me, I wondered if they were happening to you, and then I knew they must be.  And I knew that you had no way to defend yourselves, as I had.

And as I continued to do the things I did, and to say the things I said, they began to beat me.  Not beat me, mind you, with a club—but you know, I have seen that done too—but they beat me with their pens, with their writings.  And friends, that is much worse.

When I was a child and they burned me out of my home, I was frightened and I ran away.    Eventually I ran far away.  It was to a place called France.  Many of you have been there, and many have not.  But I must tell you, ladies and gentlemen, in that country I never feared.  It was like a fairyland place.

And I need not tell you that wonderful things happened to me there.  Now I know that all you children don’t know who Josephine Baker is, but you ask Grandma and Grandpa and they will tell you.  You know what they will say.  “Why, she was a devil.”  And you know something…why, they are right.  I was too.  I was a devil in other countries, and I was a little devil in America too.

But I must tell you, when I was young in Paris, strange things happened to me.  And these things had never happened to me before.  When I left St. Louis a long time ago, the conductor directed me to the last car.  And you all know what that means.

But when I ran away, yes, when I ran away to another country, I didn’t have to do that.  I could go into any restaurant I wanted to, and I could drink water anyplace I wanted to, and I didn’t have to go to a colored toilet either, and I have to tell you it was nice, and I got used to it, and I liked it, and I wasn’t afraid anymore that someone would shout at me and say, “Nigger, go to the end of the line.”  But you know, I rarely ever used that word.  You also know that it has been shouted at me many times.

So over there, far away, I was happy, and because I was happy I had some success, and you know that too.

Then after a long time, I came to America to be in a great show for Mr. Ziegfeld, and you know Josephine was happy.  You know that.  Because I wanted to tell everyone in my country about myself.  I wanted to let everyone know that I made good, and you know too that that is only natural.

But on that great big beautiful ship, I had a bad experience.  A very important star was to sit with me for dinner, and at the last moment I discovered she didn’t want to eat with a colored woman.  I can tell you it was some blow.

And I won’t bother to mention her name, because it is not important, and anyway, now she is dead.

And when I got to New York way back then, I had other blows—when they would not let me check into the good hotels because I was colored, or eat in certain restaurants.  And then I went to Atlanta, and it was a horror to me.  And I said to myself, My God, I am Josephine, and if they do this to me, what do they do to the other people in America?

You know, friends, that I do not lie to you when I tell you I have walked into the palaces of kings and queens and into the houses of presidents.  And much more. But I cold not walk into a hotel in America and get a cup of coffee, and that made me mad.  And when I get mad, you know that I open my big mouth.  And then look out, ‘cause when Josephine opens her mouth, they hear it all over the world.

So I did open my mouth, and you know I did scream, and when I demanded what I was supposed to have and what I was entitled to, they still would not give it to me.

So then they thought they could smear me, and the best way to do that was to call me a communist.  And you know, too, what that meant.  Those were dreaded words in those days, and I want to tell you also that I was hounded by the government agencies in America, and there was never one ounce of proof that I was a communist.  But they were mad.  They were mad because I told the truth.  And the truth was that all I wanted was a cup of coffee.  But I wanted that cup of coffee where I wanted to drink it, and I had the money to pay for it, so why shouldn’t I have it where I wanted it?

Friends and brothers and sisters, that is how it went.  And when I screamed loud enough, they started to open that door just a little bit, and we all started to be able to squeeze through it.  Not just the colored people, but the others as well, the other minorities too, the Orientals, and the Mexicans, and the Indians, both those here in the United States and those from India.

Now I am not going to stand in front of all of you today and take credit for what is happening now.  I cannot do that.  But I want to take credit for telling you how to do the same thing, and when you scream, friends, I know you will be heard.  And you will be heard now.

But you young people must do one thing, and I know you have heard this story a thousand times from your mothers and fathers, like I did from my mama.  I didn’t take her advice.  But I accomplished the same in another fashion.  You must get an education.  You must go to school, and you must learn to protect yourself.  And you must learn to protect yourself with the pen, and not the gun.  Then you can answer them, and I can tell you—and I don’t want to sound corny—but friends, the pen really is mightier than the sword.

I am not a young woman now, friends.  My life is behind me.  There is not too much fire burning inside me.  And before it goes out, I want you to use what is left to light that fire in you.  So that you can carry on, and so that you can do those things that I have done.  Then, when my fires have burned out, and I go where we all go someday, I can be happy.

You know I have always taken the rocky path.  I never took the easy one, but as I get older, and as I knew I had the power and the strength, I took that rocky path, and I tried to smooth it out a little.  I wanted to make it easier for you.  I want you to have a chance at what I had.  But I do not want you to have to run away to get it.  And mothers and fathers, if it is too late for you, think of your children.  Make it safe here so they do mot have to run away, for I want for you and your children what I had.

Ladies and gentlemen, my friends and family, I have just been handed a little note, as you probably say.  It is an invitation to visit the President of the United States in his home, the White House.

I am greatly honored.  But I must tell you that a colored woman—or, as you say it here in America, a black woman—is not going there. It is a woman.  It is Josephine Baker.

This is a great honor for me.  Someday I want you children out there to have that great honor too.  And we know that that time is not someday.  We know that that time is now.

I thank you, and may god bless you.  And may He continue to bless you long after I am gone.

Sources:

Stephen Papich, Remembering Josephine (New York: The Bobbs-Mererill Company, Inc.: 1976), 210-213.

– See more at: http://www.blackpast.org/1963-josephine-baker-speech-march-washington#sthash.uepYA0eM.dpuf

Voir par ailleurs:

Raciste, « Exhibit B » ? Visite guidée d’une œuvre controversée

L’oeuvre de Brett Bailey sur le colonialisme et les zoos humains fait polémique. Mercredi soir, au 104, les spectateurs ont ressenti une véritable gifle.
L’Obs

11 décembre 2014

Ce soir, je suis « Numéro 16″. Comme les autres spectateurs d' »Exhibit B », le spectacle du sud-africain Brett Bailey sur le thème des zoos humains et du colonialisme, je suis devenue un chiffre le temps de la représentation. En silence, j’attends que l’on me convoque pour découvrir l’oeuvre – accueillie au Centquatre du 7 au 12 décembre – qui a fait l’objet de nombreuses critiques et fantasmes depuis son retour en France fin novembre. Une œuvre qualifiée de raciste à l’encontre de la communauté noire, par ses détracteurs, qui ont vainement tenté d’obtenir son interdiction en justice.

Le dispositif de sécurité déployé à l’entrée du Centquatre depuis le début des représentations – en concertation avec la préfecture de police de Paris – plonge le spectateur dans une ambiance anxiogène avant même qu’il ne mette un pied dans l’espace culturel du XIXe arrondissement. Quatre personnes se relayent pour amener le public de la grille d’entrée jusqu’au sous-sol, où a lieu la représentation. Il faut alors se séparer de ses affaires au vestiaire et passer par un détecteur de métaux, semblable à ceux que l’on trouve dans les aéroports.

Derrière, un petit groupe d’une vingtaine de personnes attend les instructions dans la froideur d’une pièce tout en béton. « Sur chaque chaise il y a un numéro. Asseyez-vous sur une chaise et attendez que l’on appelle votre numéro. » J’avance à tâtons dans un bunker obscur, prête à découvrir cette œuvre. L’expérience commence.

« Vous ne pourrez pas revenir en arrière »
La voix solennelle, une femme d’une trentaine d’années, explique à un public intimidé le déroulement de la représentation.

Ne faites pas attention à la personne qui se tiendra derrière vous. Vous pouvez prendre tout le temps qu’il vous faudra. Seul contrainte : vous ne pourrez pas revenir en arrière. »
Le spectateur-numéro évolue à son rythme de performance en performance dans une lumière tamisée. Chaque « tableau vivant » est pensé comme une oeuvre à part entière, racontant les corps d’hommes et de femmes meurtris par l’histoire.

Larmes, visages figés, malaise
La première performance frappe comme une gifle. Sur la droite, dès l’entrée, un homme et une femme sont mis en scène, immobiles, parmi des têtes d’animaux empaillés. Leur regard glaçant, presque défiant, est difficilement soutenable.

Arrivée à la troisième installation vivante, une spectatrice d’une trentaine d’années a les larmes aux yeux. A chaque ligne descriptive qu’elle lit devant l’œuvre, l’effroi fige un peu plus son visage. La violence du silence des acteurs contraste avec les horreurs décrites sur les pancartes.

Parfois même deux mots suffisent. « #Objet trouvé », peut-on sobrement lire devant une performance d’une femme assise sur une chaise, les mains sur les genoux, le regard toujours transperçant.

Les spectateurs sont muets eux aussi, comme abasourdis par ce qu’ils voient.

Une dizaine de performances s’enchaînent sans que l’on puisse s’y habituer. Chaque instant passé devant un acteur est un échange. Certains restent même des dizaines de minutes devant une performance, qu’ils finissent par quitter douloureusement. Des chants namibiens interprétés par des acteurs, invisibles jusqu’à la dernière pièce, occupent l’espace sonore.

Les Noirs ne sont pas en cage
Au fur et à mesure que l’on découvre « Exhibit B », les arguments avancés par ses détracteurs s’effondrent. L’esthétisme de l’oeuvre ne laisse aucun doute sur l’aspect artistique du travail de Brett Bailey, à 1.000 lieux de celui d’un historien.

Pas une seule cage, si ce n’est un grillage ouvert qui entoure le spectateur sur une des performances. Pas d’approximation historique non plus, mais des panneaux explicatifs qui replacent chaque oeuvre dans son contexte. Les Noirs d' »Exhibit B » ne sont pas des sous-hommes mis en cage et réduits au silence. Les acteurs incarnent ces corps autrefois meurtris et déshumanisés, avec une présence telle, qu’il est impossible de considérer qu’ils puissent êtres passifs.

D’ailleurs, s’ils sont silencieux durant la représentation, ils expriment à l’écrit leur démarche artistique, leur analyse de l’oeuvre et les raisons qui les ont poussé à jouer pour « Exhibit B », sur des feuilles disposées dans la pièce qui clôture la représentation. Les descendants des colonisés ne sont pas privés de leur histoire, mais ont au contraire une opportunité de l’incarner pour mieux en mesurer le poids. «  »Exhibit B » est un processus de guérison », explique un acteur noir.

Le spectateur, resté à son tour silencieux pendant toute la performance, peut aussi s’exprimer à la fin du spectacle. Dans la même salle, les visiteurs se servent en papier et en stylos pour laisser couler leur pensée librement et anonymement. « Pour la première fois je me suis rendue compte de la souffrance causée », peut-on lire sur une des feuilles.

Il faut voir « Exhibit B » avant de prendre position
A la sortie, les spectateurs restent muets pendant plusieurs secondes, incapables de verbaliser l’expérience qu’ils viennent de vivre. Après avoir repris leurs esprits, un petit groupe débat. Ils ont entre 13 et 25 ans et font partis du conseil local des jeunes d’Aubervilliers. Tous sont touchés et émus par ce qu’ils viennent de voir.

« Moi qui suis Sri Lankaise d’origine, je suis choquée d’avoir vu le nom d’un Sri Lankais dans la liste des esclaves tués », raconte Subhatha T., une lycéenne de 18 ans.

L’apartheid : on a un petit peu étudié ça en anglais. Mais là c’est différent, on se rend vraiment compte que ça a existé. On se retrouve dans des conditions proches du réel », explique Sheima, 16 ans.
« J’ai appris beaucoup de choses et puis ce n’est pas une question de blanc ou noir, c’est universel », renchérit Samy 24 ans. Le jeune homme considère qu’interdire ce spectacle reviendrait à se voiler la face.

Clément, un graphiste breton de 29 ans venu avec des amis, reconnait avoir ressenti une gêne :

Je me suis positionné en Blanc. J’avais honte. »
« Le spectacle m’a dérangée », affirme quant à elle Khadi Cissaka, une étudiante en marketing et négociations de 21 ans. La jeune femme ajoute :

En tant que Noire, on a du mal à se dire que l’on a fait l’objet d’études destinées à prouver que l’on était moins intelligents que les Blancs. Que l’on a été déshumanisés à ce point. »
« Je comprends les détracteurs », poursuit Khadi. « Moi-même j’y allais avec un peu d’appréhension. Mais je suis partie du principe qu’il fallait que je voie l’oeuvre avant de me rallier à une cause ». L’étudiante conclut :

Je ne pense pas que ceux qui sont contre « Exhibit B » puissent le rester une fois sortis de l’exposition. »

Voir encore:

Edinburgh’s most controversial show: Exhibit B, a human zoo
South Africa’s fearless theatre-maker Brett Bailey has made a career out of tackling the most difficult aspects of race. His new show features black people in cages, in reference to real 19th-century human zoos – and even some of the performers are uneasy about it
Brett Bailey human zoo show Exhibit B

John O’Mahony

The Guardian

11 August 2014

It’s the first Edinburgh rehearsal of Exhibit B and there’s mutiny in the air. The work, a highly controversial installation by the South African theatre-maker Brett Bailey, is based on the grotesque phenomenon of the human zoo, in which African tribespeople were displayed for the titillation of European and American audiences under the guise of “ethnological enlightenment”.

The zoos, which blossomed in the 19th century and continued right up to the first world war, sometimes took place in entirely transplanted tribal villages, but also in the freak show context of local fairs, where the infamous Hottentot Venus, as Sara Baartman was called, was poked and gawked at because of her large buttocks and “exotic” physical form. Perhaps the most extreme case was that of the Congolese pygmy Ota Benga who, in 1906, was put on display at the Bronx zoo in New York alongside the apes and giraffes. Bailey’s installation aims to subvert the premise of the zoos by replacing its exhibits with powerful living snapshots depicting racism and colonialism: a black woman chained to the bed of a French colonial officer; a Namibian Herero woman scraping brain tissue out of human skulls; the slowly revolving silhouette of Baartman.

The only problem is that the young black performers, cast locally at every stop along the tour, aren’t quite getting it. “How do you know we are not entertaining people the same way the human zoos did?” asks one. “How can you be sure that it’s not just white people curious about seeing black people?” adds another. As the temperature in the room begins to rise, the group cries out in unison: “How is this different?”

As a director who has courted controversy at almost every step of his career, Bailey is no stranger to this kind of confrontation. A white South African from an affluent background, his only early contact with his black countrymen was as servants. But after the collapse of apartheid in 1994, he trekked off alone into the rural Xhosa villages where Nelson Mandela had grown up. Living for three months among sangoma shamans, he drew on African ritual and music as the inspiration for his first works: Ipi Zombie, in 1996, based on a witchhunt that followed the death of 12 black schoolboys in a minibus crash; and iMumbo Jumbo, a year later, about the quest of an African chieftain to recover the skull of his ancestor from a Scottish trophy-hunter.

His 2001 work Big Dada, which drew comparisons between the regimes of Robert Mugabe and Idi Amin, marked a shift into darker, grainier territory; and in 2006, with the unflinching Orfeus, he bussed his audience off to a post-colonial underworld of sweatshops and human trafficking. That was when he began to shun conventional spaces. “Theatres feel to me pretty antiseptic,” he says. “Working in a deserted factory or a Nazi concentration camp, the associations are deeper and wider.”

All this has led to a reputation as “Africa’s most fearless theatre-maker”, and eventually to Exhibit B, which will fill the vast cloistered space of the Edinburgh University library, not just with searing visions of past racism, but also with contemporary tableaux that Bailey calls “found objects”. These are representations of refugees and asylum-seekers that link today’s “deportation centres, racial profiling and reduction of people to numbers” to the dehumanising ethos of the human zoos.

Already seen in various European capitals, the work has proved incendiary, particularly in Berlin, where it caused fury among leftwing anti-racism campaigners, who questioned the authority of a white director to tackle the story of black exploitation. Bailey seems to relish the entire spectrum of reaction: “I’m creating a journey that’s embracing and immersive, in which you can be delighted and disturbed, but I’d like you to be disturbed more than anything.”

Back in the rehearsal room, sporting a striped beanie hat and a very pointy, ginger-flecked beard, the director looks somewhere between a new-age wizard and a children’s TV presenter. His entrance is suitably dramatic, sweeping into the room unannounced to fix each performer in turn with a gimlet-eyed gaze. There follows a gruelling programme of psychological exercises to perfect the show’s single dramatic device: the steely stare that each performer locks on to the spectator. “It’s very difficult to get it right,” he explains. “The performers are not asked to look with any anger at all. They must work with compassion.”

All the while, Bailey is an uneasy, almost abrasive presence, making unhelpful comments about the revealing nature of the costumes and spouting the n-word provocatively in his clipped South African intonation. “He’s a badass! He gets it done,” says Cole Verhoeven, a previous performer, hinting that his spikiness may be a strategy to weed out the non-committal. “His intention is clear. And our intentions had to be clear in order to do the work with any authenticity.”

But when one of the female performers breaks down in tears due to the intensity of the process, Bailey is quick to move in with gentle reassurance. And as the mutinous insubordination and squabbling reach fever pitch, his response is firm and decisive. “What interests me about human zoos,” he tells the group, “is the way people were objectified. Once you objectify people, you can do the most terrible things to them. But what we are doing here is nothing like these shows, where black people were brought from all over Africa and displayed in villages. I’m interested in the way these zoos legitimised colonial policies. But other than that, they are just a catalyst.”

To craft each living image in the installation, Bailey conducted intensive research, sometimes taking three months or more to build a single tableau from photos, letters, biographies, official documents, paintings. One of the most harrowing, titled A Place in the Sun, was extrapolated from an account he came across of a French colonial officer who kept black women chained to his bed, exchanging food for sexual services. “It’s a picture of unimaginable suffering,” says Bailey. “She is sitting there looking in the mirror and waiting to be raped. It’s the only way she can feed her family.”

Perhaps the most chilling, though, is Dutch Golden Age, which combined Bailey’s interest in still-life paintings with a court document detailing the horrific punishments meted out to escaped slaves. “Among the overflowing bowls of fruit,” says Bailey, “we have a slave forced to wear a perforated metal mask covering his face and a pin going through his tongue. It is about the silencing of marginalised black voices, the silencing of histories.”

And it was while sifting through thousands of photographs in the Namibian National Archives that Bailey found the subject that would be the climax of his work – the four singing decapitated heads of Nama tribesmen. “After the heads were cut off,” says Bailey, “they were mounted on these strange little tripods that were custom-made. Then I found these songs that referenced the genocide of the 1920s. So it became a set of four heads singing songs and lamentations.”

Bailey does not consider any of the pieces complete without the addition of the spectator – the labels on each work even mention “spectator/s” as one of their “materials”. And they have found audience interaction to be a profound element. “We were playing a festival in Poland,” says Berthe Njole, who had the part of Sara Baartman. “A bunch of guys came in. They were laughing and making comments about my boobs and my body. They didn’t realise I was a human being. They thought I was a statue. Later, they returned and each one apologised to me in turn.”

Bailey is unsure how the piece will go down in the UK, which has its own long and chequered colonial history. Cole Verhoeven certainly believes in Bailey’s right to ruffle feathers in telling these uncomfortable stories. “Exhibit B is monumental,” he says. “And Brett’s whiteness perhaps gives him a degree of distance necessary for wading around in this intensely painful material.”

But, looking back at some of his earlier work, Bailey is now the first to admit that pushing too hard and being too bold is an occupational hazard. “People have said, ‘White boy, you are messing with my culture. You have no right to tell the story of our spiritual practices or our history, because you are getting it all wrong.’ And I can’t defend those works today in the same way I could back then. For all I know, I could look back at Exhibit B in 10 years and say, ‘Oh my God, I am doing exactly what they are accusing me of.’ But that’s the risk you take. It comes with the territory.”

• Exhibit B is at the Playfair Library Hall, University of Edinburgh, until 25 August; then at the Barbican, London EC2, 23-27 September.

Voir de plus:

Why I’m not allowed my book title
It’s called The Book of Negroes in Canada – but Americans won’t buy that term

Lawrence Hill

The Guardian

20 May 2008

It isn’t unusual for British or Canadian books to change titles when entering the American market. It happened to JK Rowling – Harry Potter has no « philosopher’s » stone in the USA; and to Alice Munro, whose fabulous collection of short stories went from Who Do You Think You Are? in Canada to The Beggar Maid in the USA.

But I didn’t think it would happen to me. When my novel, The Book of Negroes, came out last year with HarperCollins Canada, I was assured by my American publisher that the original title would be fine by them. However, several months later, I got a nervous email from my editor in New York.
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She mentioned that the book cover would soon be going to the printer and that the title had to change. « Negroes » would not fly, or be allowed to fly, in American bookstore. At first, I was irritated, but gradually I’ve come to make my peace with the new title, Someone Knows My Name.

Perhaps the best way to examine the issue is to examine the evolution of the word « Negro » in America. I descend (on my father’s side) from African-Americans. My own father, who was born in 1923, fled the United States with my white mother the day after they married in 1953. As my mother is fond of saying, at the time even federal government cafeterias were segregated. It was no place for an interracial couple to live.

My parents, who became pioneers of the human rights movement in Canada, used the word Negro as a term of respect and pride. My American relatives all used it to describe themselves. I found it in the literature I began to consume as a teenager: one of the most famous poems by Langston Hughes, for example, is The Negro Speaks of Rivers. When my own father was appointed head of the Ontario Human Rights Commission in 1973, the Toronto Globe and Mail’s headline noted that a « Negro » had been appointed.

The term was in vogue right into the 1970s. For a time, the word « Negro » took a back seat in popular language culture to newer terms, such as « Afro-American », « African-Canadian », « people of colour » (a term I have always disliked, for its pomposity) or just plain « black. »

In the last 20 or so years in urban America, we have witnessed more changes in racial terminology. For one thing, and regrettably in my view, many hip-hop artists have re-appropriated the word « nigger », tried to tame it, and use it so vocally and frequently as to strip it of its hateful origins. We are all products of our generation.
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Given that I was born in 1957 and taught to ball my fists against anybody using that N-word, I can’t quite get my head around using it these days in any kind of peaceful or respectful manner. Just as the very word « nigger » has risen in popular usage over the last decade or two, however, the word « Negro » has become viscerally rude. In urban America, to call someone a Negro is to ask to for trouble. It suggests that the designated person has no authenticity, no backbone, no individuality, and is nothing more than an Uncle Tom to the white man.

I used The Book of Negroes as the title for my novel, in Canada, because it derives from a historical document of the same name kept by British naval officers at the tail end of the American Revolutionary War. It documents the 3,000 blacks who had served the King in the war and were fleeing Manhattan for Canada in 1783. Unless you were in The Book of Negroes, you couldn’t escape to Canada. My character, an African woman named Aminata Diallo whose story is based on this history, has to get into the book before she gets out.

In my country, few people have complained to me about the title, and nobody continues to do so after I explain its historical origins. I think it’s partly because the word « Negro » resonates differently in Canada. If you use it in Toronto or Montreal, you are probably just indicating publicly that you are out of touch with how people speak these days. But if you use it in Brooklyn or Boston, you are asking to have your nose broken. When I began touring with the novel in some of the major US cities, literary African-Americans kept approaching me and telling me it was a good thing indeed that the title had changed, because they would never have touched the book with its Canadian title.

I’d rather have the novel read under a different title than not read at all, so perhaps my editor in New York made the right call. After all, she lives in the country, and I don’t. I just have one question. Now that the novel has won the Commonwealth writers’ prize, if it finds a British publisher, what will the title be in the UK?

Voir de même:

La supercherie antiraciste

Lutter contre le racisme, c’est défendre l’universalité de nos valeurs, l’unité du genre humain. A l’exact opposé de l’offensive antirépublicaine actuellement à l’œuvre.

Alain Jakubowicz, Président de la Licra

Libération

11 avril 2016

Il y a encore trente ans, la cartographie de la haine était simple à établir : le racisme et l’antisémitisme étaient d’extrême droite. D’un côté, les héritiers de la Résistance, et de l’autre, ceux de Vichy. L’antiracisme avait son propre «mur de Berlin».

Depuis, le monde a changé, les murs sont tombés, les fronts se sont multipliés. Le mouvement antiraciste est resté figé dans des réflexes et des pratiques datées. Faute d’avoir mesuré ces changements profonds, il a manqué la mise à jour de son logiciel et son adaptation aux nouvelles frontières de la haine. A contrario de ses adversaires, il n’a pas su s’adapter à la révolution numérique. Il a tardé à comprendre que l’extrême droite n’avait plus le monopole du racisme et de l’antisémitisme et a laissé le champ libre à l’expression de nouvelles radicalités. Ce retard à l’allumage tient aussi à la mystification, qui s’est présentée à l’opinion sous les traits d’un antiracisme adapté aux identités plurielles – issues de l’immigration, marquées par la mémoire de l’esclavage, la colonisation – et affilié à la gauche. C’est sous ce masque pervers que la haine a, par effraction, trouvé refuge.

Le 4 avril, Libération consacrait justement son numéro aux «Visages contestés de l’antiracisme». L’éditorial de Laurent Joffrin a parfaitement analysé «le piège grossier» qui nous est tendu. Pourtant, à la faveur de cette «plongée chez les nouveaux antiracistes», on comprend facilement comment l’appropriation d’un combat peut conduire à son détournement et à sa dénaturation. Si l’on n’y prend pas garde, on risque d’attribuer sans discernement à ces faussaires des brevets d’antiracisme. Le moment est venu de bien nommer les choses, de cesser de faire capituler le langage devant des évidences et dire clairement que ces gens-là ne sont rien d’autre que des racistes et des antisémites. Il est temps de rappeler que la politisation de l’antiracisme est une imposture et une impasse derrière laquelle se cachent «l’anticapitaliste, l’anticolonialisme, l’anti-impérialisme», «l’antisionisme», «la lutte des races sociales». Elle porte en elle les ferments d’un nouveau totalitarisme, reconstruisant des murs que nous avions détruits de haute lutte.

Le racisme et l’antisémitisme ont changé. Face à nous désormais, des cumulards de la haine des juifs, des homosexuels, des Blancs et, d’une certaine manière, des femmes. Désigner «le Blanc» comme symbole dominateur d’un prétendu «racisme d’Etat» qui sévirait en France, c’est être raciste. Quitter une réunion féministe en raison du trop grand nombre «de meufs blanches et assimilationnistes», c’est aussi être raciste. Revendiquer le communautarisme et accueillir à bras ouverts le fondamentalisme religieux pour «guérir la France de l’islamophobie», c’est offrir à l’extrême droite un boulevard pour promouvoir une conception contre-nature de la laïcité.

Une offensive antirépublicaine est à l’œuvre. Elle est puissante car elle bénéficie de la montée des populismes et des communautarismes qui exploitent, chacun de leur côté, le business de la peur et du repli identitaire. Ces deux extrémismes sont les deux faces d’une même pièce, celle de la haine qui conduit à la division et à l’affrontement. Elle appelle la même réprobation et les mêmes réponses.

Etre antiraciste, c’est défendre l’universalité de nos valeurs et l’unité du genre humain. C’est défendre le caractère indivisible de la Nation. Il n’existe pas d’antiracisme à la découpe ou à la carte. Etre antiraciste, c’est savoir être «de la couleur de ceux qu’on persécute» (Lamartine). L’idée qu’il faudrait être concerné par une discrimination pour la combattre est la négation même du combat antiraciste. Le silence assourdissant de ces prétendus «nouveaux visages» face à la condamnation de l’antisémitisme est l’aveu de leur supercherie «antiraciste». Il suffit de les voir applaudir les charlatans du négationnisme ou théoriser le «philosémitisme de l’Etat» pour s’en rendre compte.

Le mouvement antiraciste, le vrai, a désormais fait son aggiornamento en allant, pour reprendre Jaurès, vers son idéal en comprenant le réel. Sur les réseaux sociaux et sur le terrain, aux côtés des victimes, de toutes les victimes, black, blanc, ou beur, juive, athée, chrétienne, musulmane, de banlieue, des beaux quartiers ou d’un village rural, hétérosexuelle ou homosexuelle. Qu’on se le dise une fois pour toutes : l’antiracisme est universel, il vaut pour tous ou il ne vaut rien.

Alain Jakubowicz Président de la Licra

Voir enfin:

« La non-mixité racisée » : un racisme qui ne dit pas son nom

Alain Jakubowicz

14 April 2016

Je dénonçais mardi dans une tribune publiée dans Libération « les nouveaux visages du racisme et de l’antisémitisme ». Nous y sommes. Cette semaine, un nouveau palier a encore été franchi par ces pseudos-antiracistes. En effet, depuis lundi 11 avril se tient à Saint-Denis dans les murs de l’Université Paris 8 un événement au nom évocateur : « Paroles non-blanches : rencontres autour des questions de race. Travail et mobilisation » organisé par le collectif « Groupe de réflexion non-mixité racisée ». Au programme, une obsession de « la blanchité des médias » et de « l’islamophobie », le prétendu « racisme d’Etat », de la République et de l’Ecole, le tout baignant dans une sémantique coloniale absolument délirante.

La logique folle et prétendument « anti-système » qui préside à l’organisation de ce type d’événement est exactement la même qui conduit les identitaires d’extrême-droite à l’affirmation d’une France « blanche » : les extrêmes, chacun à leur manière, organisent le séparatisme et véhiculent la même logique d’apartheid. Sous couvert d’antiracisme, notre pays risque de voir émerger des « Ku Klux Klan inversés » où le seul critère qui vaille sera la couleur de peau.

Encore une fois, les identitaires testent la République et, par glissements successifs, tentent d’affaiblir ses fondements et ses valeurs. L’initiative de ce groupuscule n’est pas acceptable et doit nous faire prendre conscience de la gravité de la situation. Si nous nous taisons aujourd’hui, alors dans quelques semaines, dans quelques mois, nous verrons apparaître des conférences interdites aux blancs et aux juifs, des écoles privées réservées aux « colored people ». Avec de prétendus héritiers de cette nature, Rosa Parks va se retourner dans sa tombe.

2 commentaires pour Josephine Baker Day/65e: La seule femme – et Française ! – à avoir eu droit à son discours aux côtés de Monsieur I have a dream lui-même (How colonial Paris totem of primeval sex turned March on Washington only woman speaker gave the world its first Rainbow tribe theme park)

  1. jcdurbant dit :

    Quand nos anciens esclaves étaient toujours tranquillement cachés aux Antilles …

    il y a à peine plus de 3 millions de musulmans aux Etats-Unis, soit 1 pour cent de la population. C’est donc un peu comme si l’on assistait à l’inversion de la situation qui prévalait dans les années 1920, quand la France comptait à peine 5.000 Noirs et la «négrophilie» tenait le haut du pavé à Paris. À l’époque, l’élite française ne trouvait pas de mots assez durs pour fustiger le «racisme américain» …

    http://www.lefigaro.fr/vox/societe/2016/06/10/31003-20160610ARTFIG00250-serveuse-giflee-a-nice-comment-les-islamistes-imposent-un-nouvel-ordre-moral.php

    J'aime

  2. that’s good, thanks for your share,.. I think this is great blog

    J'aime

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