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Monday, September 21, 2009

France's President's Black, Female, Muslim: Rama Yade

Rama Yade, 32, is France's Minister For Youth & Sports and is one of the most popular political personalities in the country. Only nine years after graduating from the Paris Political Science Institute, Yade has become a phenomenon: black, Muslim, female -- and one of the brightest stars in President Nicolas Sarkozy's political constellation.

Yade's main mission when she was appointed in May 2007 was to embody Sarkozy's effort to bring minorities into positions of responsibility. Yade is a poster girl for integration, but also as a politician with her own support and the promise of a career on the national stage.

Rama Yade, upper left with President Sarkozy, has been invited to attend the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's annual legislative conference. Born Mame Ramatoulaye Yade in Senegal, West Africa, Yade was brought up in the Paris suburb of Colombes. Her father is a diplomat and professor.

After several years as a staff assistant in the Senate, she joined Sarkozy's Union for a Popular Movement. Yade gained celebrity with a conservative-oriented speech in which she castigated the opposition Socialist Party. About the same time Yade married Joseph Zimet, a high-level bureaucrat and the son of a well-known Yiddish singer.

Yade emerged as a media star during the 2007 presidential campaign, particularly among conservatives who were delighted to hear their beliefs championed by a black and an Arab. Both hailed Sarkozy as someone who would do something for minorities besides talk. During the same year, Yade published her first book, "Blacks of France," in which she analyzed the place in French society occupied by African immigrants' children and other French blacks. It reminded people that, despite her own swift rise in a conservative movement, Yade carried the heritage of a black woman in a predominantly white society. (Wash Post, 9/21/09)
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