First lady Michelle and President Barack Obama: According to a red-

faced Elle magazine France, the power couple - particularly Michelle -

have finally made Black fashion 'chic'. By coining the term 'Black-geoisie'

to refer to how Black fashion has become respectable, the magazine is

being called racist and out of touch.



Le Figaro, France

Shame on Elle for Racist Slur Against Obamas and Blacks


"It’s simple: if Blacks are now chic, it is because they finally have an icon worthy of the name - Michelle Obama - who sets the tone by, 'revisiting Jackie O’s wardrobe in a jazzy style.' Yes, because even though she is first lady, Michelle Obama herself had to be inspired by a White role model; and since she has natural rhythm, of course she added a touch of jazz."


By Sonia Rolland, Audrey Pulvar, China Moses et. al.


Translated By Elise Nussbaum


January 31, 2012


France - Le Figaro - Original Article (French)

Michelle Obama and 'afro-American' fashion are at the heart of a French media frenzy, after Elle Magazine France appeared to belittle Black people and their fashion sense by implying that they 'dress White' while retaining their 'Blackness.'

VINTAGE BLACK VIDEO: Michelle Obama Fashions of the decade, Oct. 29, 2011, 00:03:53RealVideo

Thanks to Elle magazine, we finnaly get it: the ‘Black-geoisie’ has adopted all the White fashion codes.” ["Geoisie" is French slang - an offshoot of the word bourgeois - for something unfashionable that has become "chic."] What’s more, “[in this America led for the first time by a Black president], chic has become a plausible option for a community so far pegged to its ‘streetwear’ codes.” That's right - while Blacks have dressed like hoodlums in hoodies for decades, they have finally understood - thanks to the tutelage of Whites - that they should pay more attention to their appearance. That was the tenor of an article published in the January 13 issue of the weekly magazine so favored by housewives of the “White-geoisie” (since apparently, we now divide the bourgeois by race as well) entitled Black Fashion Power, which sought to analyze the red-carpet success of African-American personalities.


It’s simple: if Blacks are now chic, it is because they finally have an icon worthy of the name - Michelle Obama - who sets the tone by “revisiting Jackie O’s wardrobe in a jazzy style.” Yes, because even though she is first lady, Michelle Obama herself had to be inspired by a White role model; and since she has natural rhythm, of course she added a touch of jazz.


But wait, Blacks haven't integrated these codes “literally. There is always a classic twist, with a bourgeois ethnic reference (a wax-print boubou dress, a shell necklace, a rapper’s hoop earrings …) that recalls the roots.” Haven’t you noticed the bone Halle Berry wears so proudly in her nose? Haven't you seen how Rama Yade likes to evoke her “exotic” origins by draping herself in a leopard loincloth before giving her speeches?


Screenshot from Elle France's blog, highlighting 'Black Fashion

Power' and the ‘Black-geoisie’ - before the magazine removed it.


It is time for Elle’s editors to venture out of their glass-windowed offices in the business district of Levallois-Perret to mingle with the population, which would allow them to see how Blacks look and how they dress in real life. It's also time to realize that Black women also live in France; they don’t all live in the United States and they aren't all singers, actresses or athletes. Why must every elegant Black woman be compared to Michelle Obama, and why must Omar Sy (from the film Untouchable) - and many elegant French Black men - be compared to Barack Obama every time he puts aside his blue jeans for a black suit and white shirt? Instead of hanging out with Black people, in recent years the press has been satisfied to note that even in government, the National Assembly, on news programs and in movies - there are Black women!


Finally, a bit of research and common sense would have spared us the statement that, “for the afro community, clothing has become a political weapon,” which deprecates the real and painful history of Black minority struggle by turning any well-dressed starlet into a spokesperson for that struggle. As for Blacks who aren’t political, one is left to wonder if they walk around nude …


All this could have been quickly forgotten as a trivial question of ignorance - if the magazine had deigned to respond to the many protests from readers who were offended by the article. Because it was the publication of the article on the magazine’s Web site that triggered a wave of indignation on social networks, fashion blogs (AfroSomething, BlackBeautyBag, ThaCrunch and TiModElle) - spreading the scandal across the Atlantic - and even on, where over the course of just a few days, over a thousand cemmenters posted demands for an explanation or an apology.




Semana, Colombia: Obama: A Negro Gringo (Or a Gringo Negro)?

Daily Sun, Nigeria: Explaining Tiger Woods' 'Lust for White Women'

Le Monde, France: Hillary and Obama a Sign That U.S. is 'Far from Equality'

Daily Sun, Nigeria: Barack Obama May Win, But He's No African-American ...

Liberation, France: The Awakening of the 'White American Male'

El Universal, Venezuela: Obama is No 'Black in Chavez' Pocket'

FTD, Germany: Michelle Obama: A 'Revolutionary' Good for America

Rue 89, France: 'Where is the French Obama?'

Daily Sun, Nigeria: Obama Committing 'Racial Suicide': The Daily Sun, Nigeria

Fraternite, Benin: Obama: Will the Year 2008 'Consecrate the Black Race?'



Response from the editors: nothing. At least until January 24, when Elle Managing Editor Valérie Toranian came up with the position that “indignant” readers had failed to understand the article. A new wave of outrage led to the article's deletion, but the damage was done. Thursday morning, on France Inter, Audrey Pulvar denounced the magazine in an op-ed piece entitled “Y a bon Obamania” (“It’s Good Obamania,” a reference to the racist ad campaign “Y a bon Banania” - see photo, left), before being invited on Friday evening to the Canal+ news program Grand Journal to debate Toranian. Although the editor expressed regret, she maintained her position and persisted in saying that Elle had intended to be “sympathetic” toward Blacks. In other words, although the result was offensive, the intention was good, so why are you complaining? Black men and women don’t need sympathy - but equality. Yet this controversy is revelatory: the article is just a symptom of wide-ranging cultural and social exclusion.


Since the debate has begun, let us pursue it. We would like to suggest to the employees of Elle that they try to broaden their horizons. Since the trend is for “Black fashion,” why not explore that by hiring, for example, Black editors? And why not - let’s go crazy - choose a Black woman to pose on the cover of their magazine? Just once, just to see what happens? There are two million Black women in France who spend seven times more on cosmetics as their White counterparts, i.e.: the increasing purchasing power of Black women constitutes an expanding market for beauty and fashion products - is that so negligible?


The “structural racism” that Toranian discussed so well on television, is buttressed by the absence of Black women on women’s magazine covers: in its almost 70 years of existence, Elle has only deigned to put a handful of Black women on the cover. Why is the magazine’s benevolence toward the “Black-geoisie” limited to a special edition every leap year? When will they become full citizens in the magazine’s pages without being decked out in grotesque qualifiers? This is the discussion we would have liked to hear the other night, and for which we now wait.





Primary signatories: Sonia Rolland (actress), Rokhaya Diallo (columnist and activist), Fred Royer (creator of the Gérard Awards), Audrey Pulvar (journalist), Léonora Miano (writer), China Moses (singer and TV presenter), Mokobé (rapper), Jalil Lespert (actor and director), Aïssa Maïga (actress), Kareen Guiock (journalist), Eric Fassin (sociologist, ENS), Disiz (singer), Marc Cheb Sun (founder of Respect Mag), Anastasie Tudieshe (journalist), Noémie Lenoir (model), Clémentine Autain (editor of Regards magazine), Olivier Laouchez (president of Trace TV), Jean-Benoît Gillig (producer), DJ Pone (composer), Pap Ndiaye (historian, EHESS).


As well as: Serge Toubiana, Charles Tesson (Artistic Director of Semaine de la Critique (Critics Week) at the Cannes Film Festival), Doryla Calmec (actress), Julius E. Coles (director of Morehouse College's Andrew Young Center for International Affairs in Atlanta), Hélène Geran (actress), Josiane Cueff (CMAC Martinique), Vincent Malausa (les Cahiers du cinéma), Mylène Marie-Rose (film critic), Thomas Le moine (director), Osange Silou Kieffer, (FEMI Guadeloupe), Marie-Christine Duval (Comecla agency), Harry Roselmack (journalist), Lucien Jean-Baptiste (actor and director), Dominique Sopo (president of SOS Racisme), Cathy Thiam (journalist).




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[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US Feb. 3, 5:19pm]


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