By Nelson Santana
July 16, 2018
France captured the 2018 World Cup championship defeating Croatia 4 to 2. Most evident by looking at the French team is that it is comprised of many immigrant-descended players, primarily from the vast continent of Africa, where the French colonized several regions.
France, however, is not an immigrant haven. Racism and discrimination are still existent and sometimes racist sentiments and anti-immigration policies lead to untimely deaths. As noted by a CNN article, in 2005, two teenagers died electrocuted after being chased by police in suburban housing projects, and this past June, riots erupted after a Guinean immigrant was killed by police. As per CNN:
“Clashes over police brutality, racial justice and economic opportunity shape debates across Europe and the United States regarding who deserves the right to be a citizen. Immigrants with African roots populate all parts of French society, particularly the areas that require hard, at times poorly paid and dangerous labor. Many of these immigrants -- and citizens -- are connected to France and the larger European Union's colonial past.”
The World Cup-winning French national team featured at least 15 players of African ancestry. Now, it would only be ideal if this inclusiveness permeated all aspects of French society.
United States policy-makers could learn a thing or two from the French national team or sports in general. It is no secret that one of the reasons the United States is the industrialized nation with a vibrant economy it is today is because of its diversity. The United States has a history of attracting--sometimes stealing--many of the most brilliant thinkers born in other countries including scientist Albert Einstein (Germany), writer Isabel Allende (Chile), journalist Joseph Pulitzer (Hungary), and YouTube founders Steven Chen (Taiwan) and Jawed Karim (East Germany). Also, three of the four major sports (baseball, basketball, and football, the exception being hockey) feature a significant amount of people of color. Baseball, in particular, features a slew of immigrant players who have helped to shape the sport.
Rather than moving civil liberties forward, the United States is actually moving backward as a moral society and conservative politicians are rolling back policies that were established to protect its own members of society, such as labor union attacks by the Trump administration. Conservatives are going against the general mood of the population who support LGBTQIA rights and abortion.
As noted by ESENDOM, “The attack on unionized workers is also coming from President Trump who is rolling back Obama-era labor protection laws.”
Recently, the United States has incarcerated children and locked them up inside cages, not only criminalizing adults in the United States who are undocumented, but also criminalizing young children. These new detention camps resemble the detention camps set up for Americans of Japanese ancestry during World War II. This should be not shocking, however, as the United States has a storied and well-documented history of separating and ultimately destroying non-European families—at least since the arrival of Europeans. For those appalled by the administration’s current immigration policies, this is not a new practice. Family separation is as American as apple pie as many Black families were separated during the Middle Passage through the years when the enslavement of people was legal in the United States.
As France’s World Cup victory proves: why fear immigrants when the diversity brought upon by immigration makes us a better collective society?