A French-Ivorian, who grew up in upper class French society, unpacks socio-economic privilege and racial discrimination in France today.

MATATU walks with Isabelle Boni-Claverie's film, Too Black to be French? and artist, Jared McGriff to call to question how nationalism embedded in colonial narratives erases the dignity and value of multiple body politics. McGriff’s water color portraits of stigmatized US national symbols of Black womenhood evokes the fluidity of objectification rooted in racist dominant narratives of what is America. 

Too Black to be French? centers the question of how nationalism violently and discriminately aims to trump race, culture, and history to maintain a mirage of sovereignty. As the US media and discourses are struggling to erase the body politic of Native Americans and indigenous peoples protecting water and calling for the closure of the Dakota Access Pipeline, as the San Francisco Forty-Niner’s Colin Rand Kaepernick first amendment right to refuse to pledge allegiance is hit with criticism, how do we exercise the fluidity of our body politics to re-claim self-determination and re-define nationalism?

The event invites participants to dialogue with 3ft x 6ft water color portraits and carry this discussion into the questions and testimonies presented in Too Black to be French? This program is co-sponsored by the student group TRANGRESS and Student Alliance at the California Institute of Integral Studies.

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Director: Isabelle Boni-Claverie
Producers: Sébastien Touta, Solveig Risacher, Gwénola Héaulme


Year: 2015
Length: 52 min
Language: French, English subtitles
Country: France

plays in concert with these objects, those memories

"These Objects, Those Memories" is a split-screen film focused on material culture, specifically, that of three long-term Zimbabwean female migrants currently residing in Cape Town, South Africa. Through an exploration of the objects brought with them, objects sent back to their homeland, objects left behind and their associated memories; stories of joy, loss, and hopes for a return to Zimbabwe are examined.

Plays in concert with Aïssa

Aïssa, a young Congolese immigrant, is controlled by police officers, as she has no papers on her. She claims to be 17 years old, but the police do not believe her and force Aïssa submit to a medical examination. Her future depends on the result of this test, because if it turns out that she is an adult, she will be deported from the French territory.

Plays in concert with Lili

About Isabelle 

Boni-Claverie, a French-Ivorian, who grew up in upper class French society, unpacks how socio-economic privilege doesn’t mean protection from racial discrimination. Boni-Claverie solicits anonymous individuals to speak on their daily experiences with race, class, discrimination and micro-aggressions. TOO BLACK TO BE FRENCH also features interviews with acclaimed sociologists and historians including Pap Ndiaye, Eric Fassin, Achille Mbembe, and Patrick Simon to help contextualize racial history in France. Boni-Claverie’s film starts an urgent discussion on French society's inequalities and discrimination.

About Jared

My work conveys shape, color, shadows, fragments and other visual distortions that the human eye captures and records in our sub/unconscious mind. By producing images that are somewhat familiar yet very unfamiliar in proportion or otherwise abstracted, my intention is to lead the viewer to engage with their sub/unconscious to better understand and interrogate the inputs into their own perception.  My abstract, figurative, and imagined portrait watercolor and acrylic paintings are inspired by colors, rhythms and sounds of nature and cities.  I am self-taught artist based in Oakland, California.