Last week, Alec Hargreaves from Florida State University, was on campus and gave a lecture titled, “”Race” and the Republic.” The focus of the lecture was on how France is dealing with the issue of Race. Ever since the Second World War and the Nazi’s use of “race” to exterminate millions of people, the mere discussion of race in France was seen as a taboo subject. Throughout the lecture, we were able to see the slow, but sure progress France has made in this area. They are now getting closer to actually collecting data about the different ethnic groups that reside within its borders. The French president, who has seemed very anti-immigrant, has actually been one of the ones to try to help this process along.
The idea of gathering data about the different ethnicities within France has met with strong opposition. Many have claimed that there is no racial discrimination therefore there is no need to gather data in this area. However, because there is no data collected, there is not much information about discrimination that actually is taking place. This was just one of this issues that was touched upon during this very informative lecture. At the end of the lecture, there was a very lively question and answer session that brought up the question of whether or not the actual act of gathering data about people’s ethnicity is a good thing. It forces you to put yourself into a certain category and to view others in a certain category. Is it the best way of doing things? This was a question that lingered at the end of the lecture. Mr. Hargreaves did not have an answer to that. It will be something to look at as we move into the future as the blending of cultures and people occur more than ever.