Valaida Snow was a black jazz song and dance performer in the 1920s and 30s, who famously also played solo trumpet in a man’s world. She toured around the world until she fell foul of the German occupying force in Denmark.
Now Candace Allen has painstakingly pieced together Valaida’s life and dramatised it into a novel, Valaida. Candace joins Jenni to tell her why Valaida’s story appealed to her and how the racism that she encountered in her life is still prevalent today.
Ayo (born as Joy Olasunmibo Ogunmakin on 14 September 1980 in Frechen near Cologne, Germany) is a Nigerian-German singer-songwriter. She uses the Yoruba translation Ayọ or Ayo. of her first name Joy.
Her debut album Joyful, which was first released in 2006, reached Double-Platinum status in France, Platinum in Germany and Poland, Gold status in Switzerland and Italy and Greece. The album was released in the United States on 20 November 2007 by Interscope Records.
She has a son, Nile, who was born in late 2005 and a daughter, Billie-Eve, born July 2010, with her partner, the Afro-German reggae singer Patrice. At the end of 2007, she moved with her family to the Greenwich Village section of Manhattan in New York City.
The president of UNICEF France, Jacques Hintzy, announced on 4 February 2009 that the singer was named patron of UNICEF to promote the right to education for all children in the world.
The French production company MK2 produced 2009 the film Ayo Joy a 90 minute documentary about the singer and her life. The film was directed by Raphaël Duroy and had its cinematic release in early 2010.
The last episode of this series focuses on the extreme racism and discrimination black immigrants faced during times of economic hardship and through political shifts in post-World War II France.
The 1973 oil crisis quadrupled the price of oil. The Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) embargoed oil exports to countries that supported Israel in the War of Yom Kippur. France, like many other western nations, was hit hard by the price increase and plummeted into a recession.
Immigrants became the band-aid solution to France’s economic problems. The government set a goal to encourage 500,000 foreigners to return to their countries. African immigrants who stayed were forced from slums into hostels where they were further segregated and ghettoised.
Opposition to immigrants festered and, by 1977, more than half of France’s citizens said they wanted to see immigration numbers decrease.
But Africans joined workers of other nationalities in protest. A four-year rent strike spread across the country’s hostels. And then in 1981, the newly elected President Francois Mitterrand promised to regularise 130,000 undocumented workers. The government shifted its focus from mass migration of unskilled labour to skills training in the former colonies.
But many questioned France’s paternalistic attitude towards the independent African nations. And despite some change, racism and hate crimes against black people escalated.
From protests and marches to music and dance, this is the story of how black people born in France fought for equality in the face of discrimination and how they used culture as a tool to empower generations.