Everything has changed. The way people talk, the way they behave, the rhythm and rhythms of life, the play of emotions, the level of production. A whole new outlook. Even their way of not giving a damn. (Then too, with sexual appetites given free rein, it seems that the white has become Third World, though the Third World hasn’t turned white in the bargain. Clearly, they’ve won.)
For every old Ahmed who moans in private that “things were better under the French”—though he hardly remembers if he’s talking about his native Algeria or his adopted France—how many millions scrape by on their share of the monstrous welfare budget, telling themselves that the wheel has turned, and that equality, at last, is no empty word?
Such, more or less, was the prophetic vision—unintentional, no doubt—of a young West Indian girl that night, at her job in a Croissy electronics plant, exclaiming simply, as she plunged a screwdriver into her supervisor’s breast: “Plantation days are over!”