Tag Archives: France

Making Reality from Fiction:  Underground Soccer Leagues

Pearl River     Remember way back in another lifetime, pre-pandemic, before the coronavirus global killer wave?  It seems years ago, but it was only last summer that ACORN’s French affiliate, Alliance Citoyenne, gained huge attention throughout France and all of Europe and the Francophone world, when our members and leaders led actions with Muslim women and girls in Grenoble and Lyon who were refused entry to swimming pools, even with their children, if they were wearing any face covering, like a burqa.

This was about more than French cultural chauvinism, valuing their historic view of the world over any other concerns, social or religious.  They banned such clothing from all public places, not just swimming pools.  They also banned any women wearing a burqa from public employment in outright employment discrimination.

Now their hypocrisy is showing even more clearly.  During the pandemic, masks were de rigueur.  As France opens up now, they are also requiring that anyone using public transportation wear masks, yet the burqa bans continue to be in full force and effect.  Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t just in France, but widely across the European Union and even in Quebec in North America.  Civil rights groups are reportedly gearing up to challenge the bans.

Having led the fight in France, I wasn’t surprised when the head organizer of the Alliance, Adrien Roux, told me in our weekly call that they had been contacted by a group of thirty Muslim women soccer players who wanted to be able to play with any kind of head covering they thought appropriate in line with their religion.  Coincidentally, in a rarity for me, I had been reading a dystopian novel, called The Resisters by Gish Jen set some years in the future.  I had stumbled on a reference to it in a sports page that piqued my interested because it mentioned that baseball was a dominant theme throughout the book.  Our heroes, the resisters, in the book, are Surplus, the vast army of the unemployed, after artificial intelligence has eliminated millions of jobs and nation states have consolidated in a new economy dominated by the Netted.  Our heroes create an underground baseball league from various Surplus communities and go to great links to keep Aunt Nettie, as they call the constant governing surveillance force, from finding them playing and stopping the games.

So, why not an underground league of Muslim women soccer players in France and perhaps throughout Europe?  Why not challenge other teams to play in defiance of the rules, just as white and black college basketball teams played each other in defiance of segregation norms in the United States in the 20th century?  I have a feeling I know who would win eventually.

Picture this as well.  In a 50-person Uber call in New Orleans among members and of ACORN’s Louisiana affiliate, the fear of the virus and the concern for more effective masks provoked some amazing discussion.  In fact, there was a serious proposal to re-purpose Spanx as a full head covering for neighborhood African-American women.  If you can imagine that, it’s not hard to see a burqa as perhaps a better virus solution and absolutely a more comfortable one.

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No Place to Run, No Place to Hide

Greenville       Talking to ACORN’s head organizer in France from one of the organization’s offices in Lyon was something of an other-worldly experience.  He was cancelling a train trip to Paris and had only hours to get back to his home in Grenoble.  The President of France has ordered a fifteen-day period where all residents were expected to stay at home except for essential trips to the grocery store.  The real period of containment he explained is forty-five days, when restrictions will be in force.  We joked that he was finally going to have the organizers take the time to become good at phone banking and phone recruitment, which previously had continually fallen off the to-do-list.

Seven counties in Northern California are under stay-at-home restrictions now except for essential personnel.  My cousin called from San Jose to check-in while we were walking Lucha along the Mississippi River.  She runs the finances for a private school.  She has no choice but to go in during the period to do some tasks even though she can make payroll remotely.  Construction projects at her school that were due to be finished in a month are now up in the air.  Her husband works for Apple and has already been telecommuting for the last two weeks.  Apple has suspended all construction contracts in the same way that they have shuttered their stores around the world.

One of mi companera’s cousins was in New Orleans and in the midst of signing on to do some painting at our building, he hightailed it out of town on a possible job offer in the Twin Cities, because he had heard the city might be quarantined and travel in and out restricted.  We thought that was a pretty wild rumor last week until a friend of our daughter’s with another friend in the fire department told her that perhaps today there would be travel restrictions proposed for the city within forty-eight hours.  We might scoff, but when another friend had warned her that our coffeehouse and all other restaurants, bars, and more would be closed except for takeout at 3pm yesterday, it turned out we could have set our watches to the announcement by the Governor of Louisiana and the Mayor shutting the state down in the face of the epidemic.

Managing three radio stations hop skipping between New Orleans, Greenville, and Little Rock, ironically, I find myself classified as essential personnel. Radio goes to our people and jumps over the digital divide, highlighting another way that lower income families and especially their children will be slammed in this pandemic.  Regardless, my daughter’s concerns are paramount, so I’ll make sure they’re battened down so that they can run seamlessly 24-7 to get out the warnings, spread the news, and give people comfort and support, then I’ll Hank Snow it back to Dodge.

As my son and I sat in our kitchen in the early evening trying to make a plan to provide takeout at Fair Grinds Coffeehouses for several hours a day, his face was dark with the clouds of worry and stress.  As he left, he turned to me and said, “I don’t like any of this!”

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Please enjoy deFrance – Keep The Night On It

Thanks to WAMF.

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