Three black cabinet members are appointed in the new French Government. With their appointment France is now the frontrunner of political diversity in Europe. In not a single European country with a large black community there has been a black cabinet Minister in recent history.
The line-up. Christiane Taubira, from French Guiana, is the new Minister of Justice. George Pau-Langevin from Guadeloupe, a member of Parliament representing Paris, is named junior Minister for Educational success. And Victorin Lurel, also from Guadeloupe, is the new Minister in charge of overseas departments. He succeeds Marie-Luce Penchard, who was also from Guadeloupe.
Although Taubira is not the first black Minister in France, with her appointment as Minister of Justice she can be seen as being the first black person in France to hold such an important cabinet position. Responding to the question that this cabinet has a lot of diversity, Taubira replied that it also includes the diversity of political, professional and social experiences.
Taubira, who is on the left of the Socialist Party, served as a deputy at the French National Assembly since 1993. She is also the author of a law, now called “Loi Taubira,” voted by the French Assembly in 2001, which recognizes the slave trade and slavery as crimes against humanity.
France has made a giant step forward, but the road wasn’t easy. After the ethnic urban riots in 2005 and the violent strikes on the island of Guadeloupe in 2009 it became clear the country lacked diversity in every major institution. To ease the tension, the first black Minister Rama Yade was appointed in 2007. Yade, originally from Senegal, became a junior Minister in the Zarkosy government. In the same year there was a little uproar when black news anchor Harry Roselmack read the news on of France’s largest television networks. His appearance was a result of ‘diversity’ talks between the networks and the government. And after the riots in Guadeloupe in 2009 the French Prime Minister quickly installed the first black Minister of the overseas departments, Marie-Luce Penchard, in an attempt to deescalate the conflict.
The biggest difference between the two previous Ministers is that new appointed Ministers are seasoned and well known politicians. With three black cabinet Ministers the French national motto liberté, égalité, fraternité is now enriched with the word that has been shouted in streets of Paris since 2005, ‘diversité’. Viva la France!