Meet Anti-Racism Writer Emmanuelle Maréchal

And learn about her work to surface untold stories of racism in Europe

Hello friends, when I put out the call for new writers to feature in this series, Emmanuelle Maréchal was one of the first to step forward. I’m so glad to discover another writer in this space, and I hope you will be, too!

Emmanuelle, what made you become an anti-racism writer?

I am French-Cameroonian, and living in France, Italy, Germany, and the UK, I realised I didn't know a thing about the Black communities in European countries outside of France.

I created an Instagram profile called The Little Black Diary (LBD) to connect Black communities in Europe through storytelling, and above all not feel isolated.

I was raised by a Cameroonian mother and a French white father, and I have a mixed brother. Nowhere in the media, in literature, in cinema or in TV is our family represented which created a disconnect between what we lived at home, and the perception people had of a family like ours. Sharing my family story was my call for connecting with people with a similar background.

Furthermore, living abroad in Italy, Germany and the UK, I realised I didn't know a thing abut the Black communities in those European countries, so The LBD was a way to connect with people from the many African diasporas in Europe.

For that reason, I don't know if to call myself an activist or writer. I see myself more as a writer telling stories, someone looking for hidden information and putting it out for people to realise racism in Europe is very much ingrained and virulent.

I chose to write in English to make people realise it is not only in the USA that people die from police brutality or that racism affects Black people's mental health.

What anti-racist cause are you most passionate about, and why?

It is a difficult question to answer because I don't feel like I have a specific anti-racist cause I am most passionate about. Because I see what I do as sharing stories and information, I tackle a wide range of topics.

I am the co-founder of Blackcoffee, the unfiltered Italian podcast about Black identities. We recorded 101 episodes in English and Italian and during each interview we did, each guest revealed an aspect of race and racism that I believe deserved to be known. For example, in Italy Black Italians born and raised in the country don't have Italian citizenship. There is no soil birthright so they take their parents' citizenship which leads to a series of issues in their daily lives. In the podcast we approached this issue from various angles: from how difficult it is to be a Black Italian entrepreneur without citizenship to how it affects the perception Italian society has of Black Italians.

So it is really difficult to pinpoint a single anti-racist cause, but I would say that if there's one thing I am passionate about regarding Black people in Europe, it is to create connections across borders. Unlike in the USA, in Europe, there is a language barrier - on top of borders - separating Black people, so I hope to bridge that gap in the work that I do.

What form does your activism take?

I am active within my community through:

  • The Blackcoffee podcast

What response have you had to your writing and activism?

The response so far has been positive because I think people are curious to understand better the various forms racism takes in Europe. It is just a matter of putting that information up for them to find.

When I started The Little Black Diary, it created connections between Black (and white) people to share their experiences. It is thanks to The Little Black Diary that I started the podcast with my co-founder and I am part of the Blackn[è]ss Fest. It all started with words, so I am understanding more and more how impactful writing is.

In terms of anti-racism content, which are your top three articles or social media posts?

  1. Recently, I have reposted a story on my Substack in which I discuss with friend and Editor-in-Chief of Naifs magazine, Amanda Winnie Kabuiku the Parisian/French girl stereotype and our identities as Black French women. I picked it because I don't recall to have ever read a piece in English where the Black identities discussed weren't Afro-American or Black British, so I wanted to start opening up the conversation about Black identities that are not highlighted in general.

  2. All my flag stories on The Little Black Diary (in highlights) in which I told about the colonial and post-colonial History of African countries by starting analysing their flags. I want to share these because these were the reason why people first came to my profile. People felt proud to see their country's stories told and came adding elements. It was also a way for me to get to know Africa better and invite my followers to do so too.

  3. This story on my Substack about how I came to be part of the Blackn[è]ss Fest. I wanted to share this story because I am a French-Cameroonian woman living in Italy and taking part in an initiative that is about Blackn[è]ss in the country I now call home is extremely important to me. I do want to create interconnections between the many Black communities making Europe, and this is a start for me.

What do you hope to achieve with your writing?

The top three goals for my writing are:

  1. Making readers curious about the Black diasporas in Europe, but in other parts of the world too.

  2. Creating interconnections between diverse Black diasporas.

  3. Having what I write read by white people. The more we share our experiences, the more they'll realise Black people are not a big monolith, and that Black History should be part of global History not just a month in a calendar where they all suddenly feel the need to be curious about it.

Share one anti-racism article written by someone else that really made an impact on you.

I want to share this article entitled 'Do You Have Passport Privilege?' written by Rebecca Stevens. A on her Substack 'Diary Of A Black Woman In A White World' because it reflects the experience of many African immigrants. This piece particularly resonated with me as I arrived as an immigrant in France, but quickly got my French ID and passport. Nonetheless I kept witnessing my mother and her siblings being treated as less than and suffering in their professional and personal life because they didn't have a French ID. It is an issue that deserves to be highlighted because it really reflects the dynamics left by colonialism in a world that is supposedly post-colonial.

In relation to racism, what is your vision for the future?

My vision for the future is to see more connections being made between the different Black diasporas. I believe doing so will also help open up issues related to the Black diasporas, from LGBTQI questions to discrimination among Black people. Only doing so in my opinion, will we then be able to fight racism in a more efficient way.

Thank you, Emmanuelle. Folx, I hope you got as much from this interview as I did. Please check out Emmanuelle’s newsletter website and follow her on LinkedIn.

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© Sharon Hurley Hall, 2023. All Rights Reserved.

Cover photo courtesy of Canva.

I am an anti-racism educator and activist, Co-Founder of Mission Equality, the author of “I’m Tired of Racism”, and co-host of The Introvert Sisters podcast.

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