Saturday, August 11, 2007

The French aren't racists, but their furniture might be.

This weekend has just begun so I don't have any pics yet, so you'll have to settle for some leftover photos from last weeks shopping excursion in Metz.

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As usual we were shopping for living room furniture. And since we've been doing alot of furniture shopping over the past 6 months I've started to notice a very strange phenomenon in the stores. No matter where we go we find little sculptures of African peoples. Apparently the French love to decorate their bookcases and entertainment centers with little wooden African people even though they aren't crazy about having the real live ones in their country.

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Now, I of course find this fascinating because never in my life have I ever seen a painting of a white lady carrying a basket on her head and wanted to take it home and hang it on my wall. Dude, I'm Black and I don't even have Black people on my walls. Also I am utterly opposed to the use of the word "ethnic" when used to describe furniture or interior design. It's slightly ridiculous. What the hell is that supposed to mean anyway? Does it mean "non- white"? Imagine this conversation:

Furniture Sales Person: Hello Madame. Can I help you find some over-priced
new furniture?

Me: Yes, I have money to burn. Show me what ya got!

Furniture Sales Person: Well, what style are you looking for

Me: Hmmm. I was thinking of something...slightly...Non-white.

Furniture Sales Person: I have just the thing. Right this way!

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Anyway, I was about to just let it go, but then I saw this lamp set in one of the "ethnic" rooms. I thought: "Great, little African butlers!"

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But upon closer inspection I realised that the little dudes were in fact monkeys.

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OK, folks. Somebody needs to hold a meeting and get this nonsense straightened out. And for the record if you invite me to your dinner party and you have "art" like this chillin' in your living room, just know that I will be taking that fancy bottle of champagne that I brought as a gift for you right back home with me.



Alevs said...

Ugly furniture and super expensive!! Try to find something better!
Good luck,

mlle smith said...

The term "ethnic" always makes me crazy...that and "urban". I'm sure there are others that are slipping my mind at the moment.

I saw a TinTin poster in a nearby store and in it was a brown man with bright, enlarged red "lips" and ears resembling a chimpanzees.

I don't know how to respond when I see things like that here.

And a HUGE thank you for that link! I'm going to order the catalogue, like you mentioned, too...still trying to find PrismaColor here. :0l

gymnopedie sweet said...

First off, I love your blog, gurrl! You are mad funny: "You know you need Jesus" and the exorcism bit still has me gagging. Now onto these tchotchkes...I think they are trying pathetically hard to please the BoBos (bourgeois bohemes) out there who think they are purchasing some "world fusion" thingamagigs but which are in fact offensive because of their implications that somehow the 'colonialized look' adds style to any room and that the buyers of these poorly-thought out products are actually globally aware and hip to the whole fair trade thing. It's also very uncool to personify monkeys as servants dressed up to hold up hurricane any standpoint: animal or civil rights. I'm just sayin.'

buzzgirl said...


Reb said...

Holy shit. That is so funny in a very very sad way. I've often wondered about tall the "ethnic" pieces you see in French stores. I cant believe those f-ing monkey-butlers. I promise to damage them if I ever see them in someone's home.

Babs said...

What does yoiur hubby think of it since he presumably grew up with seeing that as normal?

debbie said...

I’m quite disgusted and appalled by that last pic. Before I got to France all my friends were telling me there was a lot of racism here…which has made me really paranoid. They shouldn’t even be selling things like that.

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of the black jockeys they have in some people's yards in the States. My mother always threatened to get a WHITE jockey for her driveway if any of the white neighbors had the audacity to put a black one in theirs.

By and large, though, Europeans (be they French or German or whatever) simply don't get it...



Angry Black Woman said...

What is the point behind the statues? Is it like a trophy? It's funny how people will buy such things but would never allow a dark face in their least not through the front door.

MadameK said...

mlle smith---glad to be of service. And don't even get me started on Tintin---ok, but that's belgium and was published in the 1930's. I'll just let it go.

babs-- the husband thinks it just bizarre. He doesn't understand why anyone would buy that stuff---let alone make it. In fact we had a whole discussion about who _would_ buy something like that. We're stumped.

debbie-- I don't know if France is more or less racist than anywhere else. It's just different. But I've said this before: I prefer French racism to American anyday. Does that make any sense?

And Trina, indeed, they just don't get it!

The Franco Fille said...

As a black woman currently abroad and planning to move here, I completely know what you mean by American racism vs French. I can't explain it to people that I feel it's less segregated over here. But as someone who is just testing the expat waters, I don't feel quite justified to say it's completely better in that regard. I hope that made sense? It's just different and I can't explain it. It's almost as if ppl don't see color, but I know that can't be completely true.

screamish said...

Oh my god for the monkeys, it sends a chill as soon as your recognize them...gross.

Yeah the french arent so switched on by stuff like that, they've got about 20 years to catch up on.

I have to say though, that i think the tall black guy in one of the first photos...looks familiar. my boyfriend had one like that and I was really shocked at first, but it turns out his was made in Senegal by a artist there and offered to my boyfriend's company as a gift. No-one wanted them at work so he took one home.

I was dubious at first, but now I kind of like him (the statue that is!)

So that was a gift from a black artist in to why someone would want to go to a deco shop and buy them i dunno.

Try talking about Australian Aboriginal People/Art in France too, and you get some extreme ignorance...I've stopped getting angry, now I try to educate them a minimum.