Why I stand against Marine Le Pen and her anti-migrant platform.
Chez nous, my family is mixed. My two children are descendants of three major religious faiths and of American, English, and and Turkish background. Over the past year, we have watched as the US, the UK and Turkey have embraced nationalistic, anti-migrant policies.
We are also residents of France, and to say that I'm concerned about the outcome of the second round of the French elections is an understatement.
"She won't win, relax," people in France tell me. "There's no way we will vote for Le Pen in 2017."
It's little comfort, I've heard it before. Last spring during the lead-up to Brexit and last fall before the US elections. And everyone was wrong.
Now I am afraid it will happen here. Current intelligence on the involvement of the Russians isn't very comforting.
"She doesn't mean you," they say.
"Don't worry," my friends tell me, referring to Marine Le Pen's statement that she will "protect France" by suspending all legal migration. But I am a migrant. And while I may not be the primary target of the National Front, there is no question but that my family will be affected.
That being said, I recognise, of course, that we are fortunate. We aren't refugees, and we have the option to go back to our country of origin. A luxury that Syrian, Iraqi, Afghan and many other refugees and asylum seekers do not share. But one place I can not make a choice is the voting booth.
Vote blanc equals voting white, white privilege that is.
Many rational, centrist and leftist French citizens grit their teeth at the idea of voting for Emmanuel Macron. "He's the sweetheart of the banks" they say. They plan to "vote blanc" on Sunday, May 7. A "vote blanc" is a protest vote. It means that instead of voting for either of candidates, a citizen chooses to vote for neither.
But in this case, to vote blanc is to exercise one's white privilege. In France the presidential election procedure is to vote in two rounds. This allows citizens to indicate both their ideal preference (the first round) and then their tactical preference (the second round). Last weekend represented the opportunity to vote from a place of belief. For this next round, I hope France will act with empathy. It's very easy to act on abstract or idealistic intellectual and political beliefs when you are not directly affected by the outcome.
To vote blanc is to ignore the reality that people of color, LGBT, and migrants face daily.
To vote blanc is to allow the victims of war and terror to be scapegoated for the challenges we face in Europe.
To vote blanc is to allow France to fall victim to a global shift towards fascism.
As David Sedaris wrote in the leadup to the U.S. elections, if you are on a plane and the flight attendant offers chicken or a plate of shit, are you going to ask how the chicken is cooked? With that in mind, don't vote for your privilege, vote against racism, vote against fascism, vote against Le Pen. Choose the chicken. It may not be ideal, but it's the reality. There are already enough plates of crap in the world.