Radio Sandwell African / Caribbean News

Corine Lesnes: Race still defines relationships in America

2012-11-23 14:06:45

Carimac

A veteran French journalist, who has worked in the United States capital Washington for a decade, says relationships in the US are still largely defined by the racial divisions of the past.

Corine Lesnes, the Washington bureau chief for the French newspaper Le Monde and an accredited White House correspondent for a decade, says the idea of a post-racial America is still some distance in the future.

A veteran French journalist, who has worked in the United States capital Washington for a decade, says relationships in the US are still largely defined by the racial divisions of the past.

"In the States there is this idea that we want to give to our people, we want to give to people like us, we don't want to give to the government that is going to choose who they give to. That for me is what is really at play. I really discovered how much things are still framed by the racial relations of the past," Lesnes told a group of mostly journalists and academicians on Monday.

In delivering the Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication's (CARIMAC) inaugural Distinguished Lecture at the University of the West Indies, Mona, Lesnes said an example of the rejection of community, or strong sense of individuality in the US, was the opposition to President Barack Obama's high-speed rail plan.

"People said we want our cars," Lesnes said, adding that not having the high-speed train was a way to keep certain people out of certain communities.

Lesnes said many Americans still have what she called a "pioneer mentality" rather than a sense of community that is more prevalent in Europe.

Commenting on the recent elections in which Obama was re-elected to serve a second four-year term, Lesnes noted that the Obama campaign organisers used what she described as "intrusive tools" to woo potential voters to vote for Obama during the weeks leading up to the elections. These, she said, included using the popular social media site Facebook to see gather the profile, interests and friends of targeted voters and follow-up with emails urging them to cast their ballots in favour of Obama.

Lesnes, who has followed Presidant Obama on many trips abroad and has written two books on her years in America, also noted that Obama's White House was more open and accommodating to the media than his predecessor George W Bush.

Le Monde is considered a left-of-centre read by two million people worldwide every day and is the leading website in French on the Internet.

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