PARIS, France, Wednesday May 30, 2012 – French Guiana-born Christiane Taubira, architect of the law recognizing the slave trade and slavery as crimes against humanity, is the new minister of justice in the recently elected French government.
And the author of the widely hailed “Loi Taubira”, voted by the French assembly in 2001, is not alone.
In an unprecedented move in French politics, three Blacks – two of them women and all from France’s overseas departments in the Caribbean – have been named as ministers in President Francois Hollande’s new cabinet.
Taubira, who tops the trio as the first black woman appointed to such a senior post in France, is joined by two other ministers, both from Guadeloupe, in the Hollande administration.
Victorin Lurel is the new minister in charge of overseas departments, while George Pau-Langevin, now a member of parliament representing the French capital, is junior minister for educational success.
Taubira, who is on the left of the Socialist Party, has served as a deputy at the French national assembly since 1993. Responding to a comment that the new cabinet has a lot of diversity, she replied that it also includes the diversity of political, professional and social experiences.
France has made a giant step forward, but the road wasn’t easy. After the ethnic urban riots in 2005 and the violent strikes in Guadeloupe in 2009, it became clear that 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 previous administration.
After the 2009 riots in Guadeloupe, the French prime minister quickly installed the first black minister of the overseas departments, Marie-Luce Penchard of Guadeloupe, in an attempt to deescalate the conflict.
The difference between past and present black ministers in the French government is that the recently appointed ministers are seasoned, well known politicians with strong track records.
With the inclusion of the Caribbean three, the French national motto “Liberté, égalité, fraternité” is now enriched with the word that has been shouted in the streets of Paris since 2005: “diversité”. Vive la France.