I’m French. Am I a migrant, too ?

My grandparents or great grandparents on my mother’s side did not all stay in Venezuela their entire life. My grandfather had Italian origins and studied in both Spain and Mexico. His adoptive mother spoke several languages and had lived in  the Netherlands, Curaçao and Trinidad before going back to Venezuela. They were citizens of the world in a time when traveling was not as common as it is today. On my father’s side, my grandmother had to travel to different countries in Europe during World War II, and kept traveling later in life, when she raised her children with my grandfather around Africa.

I was born in France, but grew up most of my life in Venezuela. I’ve lived in the US, the Ivory Coast, and now the Netherlands.

I am French because of my father and Venezuelan because of my mother. This is how I see myself: I am neither French nor Venezuelan, I am both.

My sister competed for the Venezuela Equestrian Federation in Venezuela and internationally, but her nationality was never doubted. In a parallel world, if I would have followed a path in any professional sport and decided to compete as French, my nationality would probably not have been doubted either.

And that’s because I’m white.

Both my sister and I fulfilled the stereotypes of the countries we would decide to represent. The only difference between us, and the French players who won the World Cup 2018, is that we are white and they are not. So, now, they are called “migrants.”

Think about it. If Paul Pogba would have decided to play for the Guinean football team, like his brothers, would you have considered him a French migrant? Probably not. Is it because of the colour of his skin, or because you have the power of judging his level or “French-ness” or “Guinean-ness”?

Calling someone a migrant for having an international background is being ignorant towards all the wars and deconolinizations that happened during the last century. It is also being ignorant towards the world you are living in right now: everyone is becoming a citizen of the world. Almost everyone has their roots spread around the globe somehow. We have lived in different places and defined ourselves accordingly.

The players of the French football team have parents or grandparents from African countries, but they have decided to represent France during the FIFA World Cup 2018. They are like me: they are neither “African” nor French. They are both. They are not migrants in France nor, let’s say, migrants in Nigeria or Cameroon. They are both and we should accept this.

Stop calling them migrants or call this an “African victory.” They have decided to represent France. They played as a team, representing France by choice. France won. And France, like every country around the globe, is not made of a single origin. We are from everywhere.

And the players are French, too.

 

 

Isabel Bonnet is a Bachelor student at the University of Amsterdam. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of The Amsterdammer.

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