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Village labelled ‘racist’ by vandals

Les Nègres in Poitou-Charentes was targeted by vandals angry at the village’s controversial name

‘Inappropriate’, ‘Decolonise’ and ‘Racist’ were the words scrawled on cardboard signs obscuring plaques of the village's name. The vandalism took place on Friday and Saturday nights.

Locals reacted with surprise, as they didn’t consider the name offensive, but merely part of their heritage. The mayor told France 3 he had no problem with keeping the name Les Nègres as it has existed for a long time.

He decided not to press any charges, saying the vandals should approach the mairie with any complaints. 

Villagers still debate the origin of the name. Some say Les Nègres may have been a stop-off point on the slave route from Bordeaux and La Rochelle. Others say the name is more innocuous, and could be a family name or of German origin.

Nègre is considered to be a pejorative term. Last year, then Minister of Women’s Rights Laurence Rossignol courted controversy when she used the word casually in a radio interview, igniting a debate about the use of the word in modern France.

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