What are your first thoughts when thinking about the European country Switzerland? Neutrality, reserve, bank accounts, long horns? Maybe chocolate, skiing, or watches?
Racism may not be the first thing and it seems to be a dirty little secret that is best left alone. However, journalist and film director Rachel M’Bon attempts to reveal this painful underbelly through her film, Je Suis Noires, Becoming a Black Woman.
Co-directed with Juliana Fanjul, Je Suis Noires speaks with Black women of Swiss nationality about their daily experiences navigating Switzerland. It’s not good.
With a Swiss-German mother and a Congolese father, Rachel began to further question her mixed-raced heritage through the recent loss of her father. She recounts childhood memories of school and home life where she tries to find connection and identity. These questions seem to go unanswered partially due to her parents’ divorce, and the loss of her father, until now.
Rachel travels the country to speak with Black women in banking, lawyers, writers, psychologists and students, and interviews them about their lives. They speak about their treatment by their colleagues at work, as entrepreneurs, using public transport, walking in the streets and in social settings; they all come back with stories of feeling like second class citizens, like an outsider.
These experiences have detrimental repercussions on the psyche and ultimately the forming of one’s sense of identity.
The film also includes stories from the interviewees about how they balance being of African descent, but also being Swiss.
The film offers some insight into the women finding a sense of saftey, especially as they created relationships with each other. This safety enables them to reform their identities which are harmonious with whomever they choose to be, but there’s still a long way to go.
Co-directors, Rachel M’Bon and Juliana Fanjul.
Tallulah Bar, Junior Banking Executive.
“…When I was a child, I used to pray every night when I went to sleep. I used to ask in my prayer to be able to wake up white…”
Je Suis Noires will be screened in the UK on Friday 12th January. There’s a waiting list via eventbrite. Find out more below.