Cecile Emeke took a stroll with Gaëlle and Christelle (@jijiako & @crystallmess) near Pont De Choisy, Paris.
Subtitles available in French, German, Dutch & English.
Subtitles available in French, German, Dutch & English.
I picked Ellen to be a Black Women in Europe Blog™ 10th Anniversary Shero because she’s gutsy, a trailblazer and extremely cool. I first blogged about Ellen in August 2012. Born in California and raised in New York State she’s teaching finance on the University level in France in French. Non? Oui! She ran a great video series on the Obama campaigns and has developed a reputation as a sought after speaker on African American culture and politics. I witnessed Ellen complete her absentee ballot one election year. She’s shown me what an expat life can look like when one is fluent in the local language, excellent at what they do, passionate about their family and willing to savor everything along the way. Ellen shares her knowledge of finance with us as a 10th Anniversary gift for which I am grateful.
Thank you Ellen for sharing to empower us.
Financial empowerment and economic equality were two subjects that Martin Luther King, Jr. was just getting around to addressing when he was tragically shot down in the prime of his career. There had been rumblings that he would “go there”, which is to say address poverty as an economic rather than purely a social issue, and by doing so, in the eyes of many of his day he was ‘getting out of his lane’. Since then, unfortunately, we have not had broad social debates about economic justice, beyond the narrow and short-sighted stigmatization of the ‘welfare queen’.
Welfare queen, perhaps, but which one are we speaking of? The under-resourced unwed mother, or the corporate CEO with his endless tax loopholes? I’m more preoccupied with the latter. Over the course of the past half century, our Western economies have become less and less industrialized’, and more and more ‘financiarized’. What does this latter term mean? Basically, it is the fallout of increased regulation, scrutiny, and competition. As financial markets, and stock exchanges particularly, drove a spotlight to companies financial performance, rather than their underlying industrial performance, “finance-speak” became more popular in the media. For example, the stock exchange is a competitive place where companies are vying for investors’ attention and funds, and as this competition intensifies, companies will be forced to make managerial and industrial decisions that are for the sole purpose of satisfying financial needs. When large firms have mass layoffs, their goal is to keep their stock price competitive and maintain dividends for their investors. Slowly but surely, finance is no longer being used to fuel businesses. Instead, business is driving the financial model.
Now that profit maximization is the imposed norm in most of the world, and getting only very little pushback from alternative models, such as the collaborative economy, or decreased-consumption objectives, we are faced with another fallout of this sinister system. This fallout is the need to multiply our own individual income models. Once upon a time, a nuclear family could realistically live on the parents’ annual income This model has been phased out, by a complex list of savings, investment, income, and retirement needs that require expertise and attention.
I encourage sisters of the diaspora to do two things: embrace finance and make it your own, it’s a starting point to feeling empowered and entitled. Also, in the name of sustainability objectives, more responsible corporate governance and a re-set of North / South balance of power, consider that the next decades will give rise to what are currently seen as marginal, alternative concepts. Indeed, we can go from exclusion to inclusion in no time in this fast-changing world of finance.
Ellen Kountz is a finance lecturer in business schools throughout France, including Grenobe Ecole de Management and Paris School of Business. Ellen was born at Stanford University Hospital in Palo Alto, California. In 1973 she moved with her parents and two older brothers to the North Shore of Long Island. Upon graduation from Great Neck North High School in 1988 she attended the undergraduate business program at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania,in Philadelphia. At the end of her junior year, the Dean warned her that she needed at least one liberal arts class to graduate. She went to Paris on a study abroad program to perfect her French while fulfilling the requirement and has lived there ever since.
When people ask Ellen why she stayed in Paris, she reminds them that she was hired as a capital markets intern in the trading room at JP Morgan bank’s Paris office, located at place Vendôme. As a finance major, was there a better first job in the world? Over the years, she went on to positions of increasing responsibility in other financial services institutions in Paris. She most recently worked at the Bourse de Paris, rebranded NYSE Euronext. Currently, she is a candidate for certification as an independent corporate director at the Institut Français des Administrateurs, on the campus of Sciences Po.
Ellen lives in the Left Bank with her husband and daughter.
Holistic hair care specialist Lyota Swainson
Photographer Lola Akerstrom
Poet Lesley-Anne Brown
Hat tip: Angela Shaw
AUP is proud to announce its upcoming conference “A Language to Dwell In”: James Baldwin, Paris, and International Visions from 26-28 May 2016.
The conference will represent a broad international and interdisciplinary explorations of Baldwin’s life and writing, with a special emphasis on the Paris he inhabited, both what it was and what it is today as a result of the marks he left behind, and on his experiences in Europe, Africa, and Turkey. Stressing the importance of James Baldwin, the conference hopes to be an international point of intersection for all those interested in Baldwin’s writing from literary and cultural critics, to political activists, poets, musicians, publishers and historians. We seek the widest range of academic and public intellectual discussion around Baldwin’s work which has influenced so many and so much.
Opening Round Table Discussants:
The American University of Paris announces a call for papers for the International James Baldwin Conference to be held 26-28 May 2016 at the American University of Paris. Other Paris venues crucial to Baldwin’s experience of the city will be used as additional settings, thus taking conference participants into “Baldwin’s Paris.”
The Conference encourages broad international and interdisciplinary exploration of Baldwin’s life and writing, with emphasis on the Paris he inhabited (intermittently from 1948 onwards), both for what it was and for what it is today as a result of the marks he left behind. An emphasis on his versatility in terms of style, genre and socio-political concerns is also of primary concern. Stressing the importance of Baldwin’s life, work and literary relations, the conference will be an intersection for all those interested in Baldwin’s work: from literary and cultural critics, to scholars of gender and queer theory, to political activists, poets, filmmakers, historians and musicians as well. We seek a wide range of academic and public discussions which can engage with Baldwin’s work.
Topics may include but are not limited to:
Proposal for papers should include:
Deadline for Submissions: December 1, 2015.
I just gave a contribution to Ellen. She is a personal sheroe of mine. I hope you’ll support her too!
Arlette Bomahou is a 39 years French native lady living in Dublin, Ireland for the past 9 years, She is a full time student in digital and social media marketing in Blackrock Further Education Institute. She works part time looking after social media marketing for Tony Quinn Health centre.
Arlette is a member of the Irish Drug Free Powerlifting Association since August 2013, and member of the Dundrum South Athletic club since November 2013
Experience in training:
10 years of weight training and 1 year of strength & conditioning
Qualification in Sports:
Level 3 Gym instructor and Level 4 Personal trainer certificate recognized by REP in May/June 2014
I am 39 years old, born in North of France in Caen in 1975. My mother is from Togo and my father from Benin they both moved to France in the 70’s to study French.
When I was a teenager I was very good at sport but didn’t take it seriously. I was practicing athletics and basket-ball. My dream was to be an air hostess and live in the states. Michael Jordan and Carl Lewis were my ultimate heroes. I was big into Madonna too, I wish I could be as extroverted as she was as an artist. I always felt I would live abroad or travel a lot. I was always fascinated about foreign languages and cultures.
My passion for sport and foreign languages took me to Amsterdam where I lived for nearly 6 years. I worked for Nike and loved it then I decided to move to Ireland to discover a new country and culture. After 9 years living in Ireland I am still enjoying it and hope to raise a family here.
I have been doing weight training for the past 10 years in order to get into better shape and live a healthier life style. It has helped me to lose up to 10 kg but more importantly to improve my body shape and level of fitness. If it was not for my personal trainer Adrian Quinn with whom I have been working since 2010, I would never have tried to compete in Power lifting.
He saw potential in me I was not aware of. In 2011 he suggested that I should compete, but I didn’t have enough confidence back then. In August this year I turned 38 years old and I decided I needed to achieve something for myself before I turned 40. So I jumped in at the deep end by participating in my first competition in Cork in August 2013 in the Mardyke stadium. Since then I fell in love with this sport.
–World champion title in Dusseldorf in Single World championship on Sunday 8th June 2014, broke World record in division equipped deadlift with 162.5kg, Silver medal in unequipped deadlift with 167.5kg
–World Champion title in Glasgow in full power World Championship on Saturday 2d November 2013 (Squats: 102.5 kg, Bench press: 62.5kg and deadlift 160kg)
– European champion title in full power Championship in Belfast on Saturday 10th May 2014 (Squats: 100 kg, Bench press: 57.5 kg and deadlift 165kg)
– European champion title in single lift Championship in Gorey co. Wexford on Saturday 13th September 2014. Broke World record in equipped division with Deadlift @ 175 kg
From 12 – 28 June 2015, Arlette will be a volunteer at the European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan, involving more than 6,000 athletes from the National Olympic Committees of Europe across 17 days of competition, in what will be the largest sporting event in Azerbaijan’s history.
The second edition takes place from Thursday June 5th to Sunday June 8th 2014 in Paris at l’Arlequin Theatre, between the Latin Quarter and Montparnarsse.
The official selection for 2014 (in alphabetical order):
All films, including Opening and Closing Night, are 7 euros. You can purchase individual tickets on FNAC (a few weeks prior to the event) or directly at the theatre the day of the screening.
Passes are also available for 39 euros. Discounts apply if purchasing the pass early or in pack of two (Pass Duo). Purchase your pass.
UGC and Ecrans de Paris cards are accepted.
In a new series of articles, black women living in Europe share their views from the inside. In our seventh article, Erica Smith-Escassut found a way to feed her spirit in France.
Over the past few years of living here I have made a few observations. The most striking one for me was when I arrived in France, December 1999 to live and establish a long-term relationship/partnership with my beau, as I would describe him to my grandmother.
I noticed in a previous visit that Spring that there was something missing in the overall air of the environment, but without fully understanding the language I could only feel that something was missing. I could not hear, nor read about what it was until several months later. Upon my return and further investigation, the gig was up. I tired to understand if it was just local, or generational, or just by household, which is a discussion for a whole ‘nother day. May be it was just a fluke in the media: tv, newspapers, films, radio. What was it that I felt was lacking? What did I notice? Other than the lack of brown peoples in the media–people that represented the French population that I saw on the streets every day in Toulouse and Paris, what was it?
A Spiritual connection of the God/Creator kind.
It seemed as if the grandiose cathedral-like local churches were only attended by a handful who were 70 and over, walking that fine line between life and the thereafter. However, there were exceptions like the sprightly, elderly gentleman who would tip his hat when we greet each other in the street and a large devout Vietnamese family. They had enough children to sing in the 5 person choir and play various accompanying instruments. The two youngest in the family are still on to lead the church in song and at least one of them still plays a flute to accompany the organist. They seem to have it, but what happened to the rest of the people?
My soul became hungry. I wondered did others have this same hunger. Did they even feel hungry for something greater, for the intangible, the unexplainable? Was it from their lack of solid educational programming like Sesame Street? And why was their second national anthem O Happy Day? Did they even know what that song was really about?
I was not going to let my soul starve on the account of others lack of interest or disregard or the feeling that this subject was irreverent and more taboo than sex and open drug usage.
Finding love in a hopeless place, in pop culture, is easier and less confusing than finding God or even one’s soul in a laïque country such as France. Even the definition of laïque is contradictory, so it would only be normal that the population would be just as intellectually confused about it all and capable of spiritually starving to death without even knowing it, and opening doors to all sorts of other kinds of mayhem.
Laïcite established in France in 1958 is “simply” the separation of church and state in which the church cannot be involved in administrative or political roles. However when looking at the word Laïque, in the church, from what I understand is faithful follower of Christ , through their baptism, incorporated into the body of Christ and becomes a member of the household of God, by also being members of the church, which represents the lifeline of the world. Or at least that’s how I translated it from a religious website. Simply put, they are the lay members of the church.
But with the first reference to Laïcite it removes religious expression and even discussion of from the classroom. So it wasn’t just the teachers who were not allowed to discuss religious practices to a certain extent, but students were stripped of their freedom to wear veils, crosses, yarmulkes or any religious paraphernalia, in the 2000’s. To me it felt as an unnecessary removal of otherness from every vestige of French society that could remind the majority of the minorities ability to be French and something else. As if taking away the ability for immigrants to practice their professions here weren’t enough they also took a freedom of religious expression, in the administrative workplace and school yard. This only could have lead to the fanaticism that is seen among teens today. No religious expression at school but they can wear caps, t-shirts and jackets with the brand Comme da Fuckdown embroidered across the front in gold lettering.
Oh, but I’m sure you’re wondering how I kept my soul from going hungry? Well, I had the opportunity to host a gospel radio program in French from 2003-2007. Music has an amazing way of maintaining spiritual connections and develop relationships…
NB: By the way that reference to Sesame Street is not far off in dealing with other aspects of society that involve innovation, creativity and independence as one may think. But that’s a thought for another day.
Erica Smith-Escassut was born and raised in Baton Rouge, La. She moved to France 14 years ago. She’s married and has two children. She has been dabbling in radio broadcasting, writing, and figuring out ways to get paid to be herself & help others along the way.
Next month Laura Bazile examines business networking as an entrepreneur in Europe.