People, young and old, need stars to guide them. They need models to construct their own identity, to build their self-esteem, to change the way they see the world and to overcome their own and others’ prejudice.
During my childhood, many stars were pointed out to me. I admired them, dreamt about them: Socrates, Baudelaire, Einstein, Marie Curie, General de Gaulle, Mother Teresa… But nobody ever spoke to me about black stars. The world of my education was white, from the colour of the school walls to the pages of my textbooks. I knew nothing about my own ancestors. Slavery was the only black subject ever mentioned. In this vision, the history of Black people could only ever be a vale of tears and strife.
Can you tell me the name of a black scientist?
A black explorer?
A black philosopher?
A black pharaoh?
If you don’t know the answer to these questions, then, whatever the colour of your skin, this book is for you. Because the best way to fight racism and intolerance is to educate ourselves and to broaden our imaginations.
The portraits of the men and women in this book are a product of my own reading and my interviews with scholars. Starting with Lucy and ending with Barack Obama, and along the way meeting Aesop, Dona Béatrice, Pushkin, Anne Zingha, Aimé Césaire, Martin Luther King and many others. These stars have allowed me to reject the idea that I am a victim, to renew my faith in mankind and, above all, to believe in myself.
- Lilian Thuram
This translation of Lilian Thuram’s bestselling 2010 volume, Mes Etoiles Noires, by Laurent Dubois (University of Virginia), finally brings his anti-racism work to the attention of an English-language audience (the book has already been translated into several European languages). At a time when the Black Lives Matter movement has reminded us of the need to tell more complex stories about our shared past, this volume constitutes a timely intervention by a prominent black sporting figure.