An African-American In Paris: “I Was Shocked. I’m Like, These Are White People, And They’re Not Scared Of Us?”

From Ira Glass’s This American Life on NPR, an African-American expatriate living in Paris recalls an early lesson learned in France:

Janet Mcdonald says:

I was going to the movies with a friend of mine from Yale who is black also. And there was a long line. And we were like, let’s jump the line. These white people, they’re going to be scared of us. We’ll just go and jump the line. We’ll get to the front of the line. So, of course, you know, we walked up to the front of the line, like, yeah, you want to try me? I’m black. That usually works in New York.

These people were ready to rip our hair out. And they were white. I couldn’t believe it. And they were like, in French, what are you doing? The line starts back there. You can’t just walk to the front of the line. They were, like, ready to kick our butts. I was shocked. I’m like, these are white people, and they’re not scared of us?

That’s when I realized I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. And I liked it. I mean, of course, it was kind of humiliating, because you know, we’re supposed to be the intimidating, scary ones. And then all these French bitches in high heels were threatening us. And they were in our faces. And it made me realize that the whole black-white game just doesn’t work outside of the United States.

Because white people aren’t afraid of you here. And at the same time, they don’t hate you, because that sort of goes together. So I’ll take it. I’ll wait on line. Now I don’t dare jump lines. So that opened my eyes.