Forest Whitaker and America at the Bed of Working Class Neighborhoods

The American star officially opened a training center in Aubervilliers on Wednesday. For nearly 20 years, NGOs and the US Embassy have been ramping up efforts to support working-class neighborhoods.

He passed the town hall square in Aubervilliers like a ghost. After a half-hour interview with the town councilor, Forest Whitaker rejoins his SUV, walks slowly, and gets lost. Only a passer-by, intrigued by the camera’s presence, recognized the artist, who won an Oscar for Best Actor in 2007 for his portrayal of Amin Dada.Last King of Scotland“. A selfie and then leaves. The Hollywood star is expected in the famous district of Quarter Chemins.

A black sedan pulls up in front of a modest building at 55 Avenue Jean Jarres. “Marlboro bled”, sly cigarette sellers, wait. Inside, the American actor and director found a new branch of his Whittaker Peace and Development Initiative Foundation. In front of an audience of journalists and students, he discovered the campus: a hundred square meters divided between the reception hall, two offices and two classrooms. A selected group of sixty students follows 4 to 6 hours of lessons per week on entrepreneurship, conflict management and information technology. The training, which lasts up to one year, is free but does not lead to a diploma.

“It’s an opportunity to touch the world, to use your voices in the best way you can, to look for opportunities, to find ways of doing things. It’s interesting to watch you do things. “It’s part of our program that we started ten years ago. Before. Go forth, touch your dreams!”

Vana Whittaker addressed the students

Smiles and admiring glances. The message has been well received. “It’s very touching for me that an African-American star has decided to see what’s going on here, because it’s true that you can feel a little left out. There’s also identity!”, says Isha, who participates in “Les battantes”. For women entrepreneurs within the Foundation. His classmate Fodi wants to start his own cleaning company. He says he found out about the show “through word of mouth”. Having missed out on competitions to join approved training courses, Mervet jumped at the chance. “I don’t know anyone investing like this in France. I’m happy to be one of the first to test this practice.”

After Mexico, South Africa, Uganda, Sudan, Gabon and Cameroon, the foundation invests in France, where its headquarters are already established. Formed in 2012, this non-governmental organization funds educational programs for youth and people living in conflict-affected areas. Why Seine-Saint-Denis? According to the foundation’s spokesperson, the selection was motivated three years ago by the actor’s visit to the Chêne Pointu district in Clichy-sous-Bois (Seine-Saint-Denis). Vana Whitaker was marked by poverty. A few kilometers away, in Aubervilliers, the foundation finally took root.

“For a city like Aubervilliers, which combines a lot of difficulties and has a lot of potential, as mayor we have to use all the opportunities. That’s why we are very happy to host this exercise. In the territories, many activities are carried out. The difficulty is to reach the public that is even further away. The light of an international star and Forest Whitaker I think it will help to promote these activities as heavily recognized.

Karine Franklet, UDI Mayor of Aubervilliers

Like the Whittaker Foundation, NGOs want to Open Community Foundations Big companies like billionaire Georges Soros or JP Morgan bank are betting on the French suburbs. They are following in the footsteps traced by the US Embassy 20 years ago. The WikiLeaks (Revelation of secret US diplomatic cables in 2010) was able to detect US interest in diversity and French suburban issues.

“We believe that if France fails for a long time to improve the opportunities of its minorities and to give them real political representation, it will become weaker, more divided, more vulnerable to crises and withdraw itself. A less useful ally”, the ambassador said.

Charles Rivkin, US Ambassador to France

Confidential cable of January 19, 2010

Ambassador to France (2009-2013) under the leadership of Barack Obama, the charismatic Charles Rivkin then increased the seduction measures regarding the suburbs. A former boss of a media company, he uses his address book, brings Samuel L. Jackson to Bondi, finances murals, invites himself to Ile-de-France high schools. Above all, it is creating an impressive network for identifying “tomorrow’s leaders” from diversity. In the list, we find in particular the journalist Rokaya Diallo, the politician Fouad Ben Ahmed and the entrepreneur Majid El Jaroudi or Said Hammouch. These “young shoots” are then invited to the United States to meet with business leaders and association leaders as part of the “International Visitor Leadership Program.” Created in 1940, it has allowed hundreds of participants from around the world, Nicolas Sarkozy, Lionel Jospin and François Fillon, to spend two to three weeks in the country of Uncle Sam Nicolas Sarkozy, Lionel Jospin and François Fillon.

“It allowed me to better understand America, its history, the way it positions itself. We are a little less ideological and more pragmatic. By meeting American companies that consider diversity in America, it gives you very sharp ideas. , very specific. That’s how it is for everyone.” We were able to implement the “Work” program, which helped more than 200 young people from working-class neighborhoods join American companies. It was a source of inspiration!”

Saïd Hamouche, a former union activist in Bondi, is director of recruitment firm Mozaik RH.

“American networks” have inspired a new generation of social activists, politicians, and entrepreneurs from working-class neighborhoods. This apparent philanthropy highlights above all the sense of abandonment felt by certain people in the city’s priority neighborhoods. In France, some observers condemn this American influence under the guise of pseudo-philanthropy. Could it also be a surveillance tool? A way to weaken the French global model?

On the part of the US Embassy, ​​we limit ourselves to formal answers and remind you that there are different programs for all people. One of the spokesmen denies any specific aid to “ethnic minorities”. As for the embassy’s budget for “public affairs”, no figures will be reported. Evidence that the term “suburbs” is sensitive. Diplomatic matters require tact and prudence.

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