The French population in the USA is growing. The trend was obvious in the Census data of 2000 already, and it is confirmed by more recent figures from the USCIS (2009). The problem with us is that we don’t understand communities.
We refuse to share resources and build things in common. We are too strong and independent for that, or so we think. You will find the French avoiding each other, even fighting and competing with each other, whether they are at home or in a foreign country. In any case, they will make no effort to welcome their own, let alone guide them, favor them and protect them in the interest of the French population as a whole in the United States.
Apparently, none of us understands the concept of helping each other and succeeding together. This is a country where any motivated group of activists, however small in number, can effectively influence everything from local governments to trade policies and presidential votes for as long as it is vocal and committed to putting in the time. This is a country where communities are celebrated and respected to a point where they are expected to be the ultimate engine of their own progress. Only by sticking together, helping and favoring each other can the members of any given community further advance the collective destiny of the pack and their individual progress. And yet, you will find the French trying to make it in this country not as a community but as a group of individuals.
With 5.3% of Americans of French and/or French Canadian ancestry, France has no powerful and organized lobby to promote itself and hold political and social leverage in the United States. We are connected with each other only in the mind of our host. We might feel a loose connection with the country of our origin but never with the other Americans of French descent or the first generation French immigrants sharing our lives abroad.
In my already long life in the United States, the only examples of tight French communities I witnessed were so self-destructive and downright despicable that I eventually came to accept our collective inability to bind together as the result of divine intervention. When we do gather and try to form a tight group, we turn out to be disgusting. I am not referring to the men and women of French descent, but to the first generation immigrants who settled in theUnited States anywhere between 40 years ago and yesterday, in their own lifetime.
The absence of a French-American lobby and the lack of cohesion amongst ourselves when we are abroad (or at home, by the way,) represent missed opportunities. It is one of our fundamental flaws and one truth you have to accept early. Don’t waste any time on us. Although we might regret the sad state of our lack of cohesion, we are too far gone to hope for change. Instead, avoid us at any cost and understand that if you build your success in theUnited States on the back of being French, you will do that on your own, not as a member of a French community, because there’s really no such thing.
Excerpts from chapter 3 – Don’t Shoot Yourself in the Foot in How to Make it Big in the USA, Jean-Pierre Ledauphin, 2012. Translation by Wallace B. Thompson