The earlier post on slavery is poignant in that in 2006 we of African descent still find racism at the centre of our political and personal lives (7 of the last 9 posts on this blog have been on racism). The politics of head butts in French racist discourse are presented via La Plage a group of young Africans who put together the song “Coup de Boule” on Monday afternoon. The rumour on the streets following the game was that Zidane had been insulted by Materazzi as a terrorists, an Arab but even worse, accused of being a collaborator in the Algerian war. Whether these were true or not is not really the point. The point is that France remains in a volatile state. In the minds of France’s young (and old) people of Black and Arab descent something racist and insulting had been said to one of their heroes thus confirming the racist nature of their lives which will remain with them no matter whether you leave the ghetto or not. (Zidane later stated Materazzi insulted his mother and sister but did not expand on that).
Andrew Hussy, “Paris: The Secret History” describes France as a country of extremism. The far right whose refrain is “we will all become Arabs” whilst for the non-white population it is “we exist and you must acknowledge”. Zidane has become a symbol of the fight back from the commons where Chirac kisses him on both cheeks and acknowledges him as a hero. The President is very much aware that the commons are watching and the message must be clear if the country is to avoid a return to last November’s riots.