September 10, 2014

The New Black Elite

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In a recent article in M, le magazine du Monde, 2012 Immigration Journalism Award winner Elise Vincent wrote about a group in France that she referred to as the “new black elite,” as the cover of the magazine showed a rising class of young black entrepreneurs in France. While this would seem like a non-event in the United States, talking about race in France remains sensitive, and the very term race makes many Frenchmen uncomfortable. Click here to read Vincent’s article.

France has maintained its official color-blind approach to race relations in spite of high numbers of ethnic minorities on its territory. It is still forbidden by law to collect statistics referring to racial or ethnic origin, and it is therefore difficult to determine how certain communities are faring compared to others. Unlike the United States, France has intentionally avoided implementing racial policies and has instead constructed policies aimed at geographical areas or at social classes that disproportionately contain large number of minorities.

Elise Vincent will join us exclusively from Paris to talk about her investigation, along with sociologist Crystal Fleming, who has done extensive work on race and French society, and radio reporter Arun Venugopal, the creator of Micropolis, WNYC’s multi-platform series examining race, religion, and other issues in New York City. This forum will highlight the French and American’s approaches to race and what they say about the two societies.



Crystal M. Fleming, PhD.

– Assistant Professor of Sociology and Africana Studies, Stony Brook University

Crystal FlemingCrystal Fleming is an Assistant Professor of Sociology and Africana Studies at Stony Brook University and was the faculty adviser to Stony Brook’s Black Women’s Association from 2012-2014. She teaches classes on contemporary and classical theory; the sociology of slavery, race, and ethnicity; and qualitative data analysis. Fleming has degrees in sociology and French from Wellesley College and completed her Ph.D. at Harvard University. She also was a visiting fellow at the Institut d’études politiques (Sciences Po) in Paris. Fleming’s work explores the cultural sociology of racism, including: the logics people use to think about past and present racial inequality, the norms that shape people’s responses to racism, and the limits of colorblind universalism. She is currently completing her first book Resurrecting Slavery: Race and Remembrance in Colorblind France.

Read an interview with Crystal Fleming

Arun Venugopal

– Reporter, WNYC

Arun VenogupalArun Venugopal is a reporter at WNYC, New York’s NPR affiliate, and the creator of Micropolis, WNYC’s multi-platform series examining race, sexuality, religion, street life, and other issues that define New York City. He has been with the station since 2005 and has covered a wide range of stories, including the death of Sean Bell, the controversy over the Park 51 mosque and community center, and Occupy Wall Street.
Previously, Venugopal wrote for India Abroad, the largest English-language paper serving the Indian diaspora, and served as an editor at the multi-faith website Beliefnet. He has appeared on PBS Newshour, Countdown with Keith Olbermann, On the Media, and Studio 360. He has been published in The Wall Street Journal and Salon.
His commentary on Indian-American issues has appeared in the New York Times, the New York Post and the Associated Press. He lives with his family in Queens.

Since 2015, Arun is one the French-American Foundation’s Fellows.

Elise Vincent

– Migration Journalist, Le Monde
2012 French-American Foundation Journalism Awardee

VINCENT ELISEElise Vincent is a journalist for Le Monde. A Graduate of the du Centre de formation et de perfectionnement des journalistes (CFPJ), she started working at the daily in 2006 as a reporter before specializing in immigration and diversity in 2010. In 2012, she received the Immigration Journalism Award of the French-American Foundation, and in June 2014, she was selected by the State Department to be part of the International Visitor Leadership Program.
She also participated in the publication of a collective book – in English – comparing the treatment of immigration issues in U.S. and European media: Reporting at the Southern Borders (Routledge, October 1, 2013).

Learn more about Elise Vincent