“When I entered the world of work, I realized that being a black woman is a double hurdle”

When I entered the world of work, I first realized that I was a racist woman and that this was a double hurdle.

I grew up in the suburbs of Paris, in Essonne, in a mixed family: my father is white and my mother is black. My parents have always pushed me to be ambitious, regardless of color or gender. I was a good student in school, and I wanted to study law to become a lawyer. For a long time, I thought that there is no color and gender is unimportant, these issues were not passed on to me.

When I was younger, I simply told myself that everyone has a different skin color, I don’t have the same skin as my parents, and my brother has other skin. My parents also had a gender-neutral assignment of duties: my mother, an insurance office clerk, worked a lot, while my father, a Catholic education director, was more responsible for our education. These concepts were off topic. I understood that they were far from being so in society in general; And in the professional world, in particular, where the fact of being a woman, as well as of mixed race, comes with real obstacles. I had to learn to catch them and live with them, of late.

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During an internship at the end of my studies with a former minister who became a lawyer, I remember her warning me: “When you are a woman in this environment, there is a legitimacy that you have to overcome, because everything is much more difficult.” At that time, it had not yet resonated. Being interested in law and politics I have seen the persistent inequality between women and men, but to me, this deeply divisive truth was the truth of the old world. There were a lot of girls on the college benches, in Paris-I, and I felt very protected there. But from my first experience, after graduation, she started jumping at me.

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For five years I worked in Luxembourg, and then in an Anglo-Saxon company, where if the issue of diversity was officially brought to the table, the everyday experience was completely different. This reality continued when I returned to Paris. The environment of law, in a similar way to that of politics – the spaces of money and power – is an environment of men, mostly white. No one will ever tell you that it’s not possible to fit in there because you’re a woman, but these are malicious jokes, ways to organize teams, and notes about the possibility of pregnancy…

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