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“A French Youth” by the Parisian photojournalist Hervé Lequeux, Zine Collection N°22, just arrive this week!

“A French youth” Is a photo and text documentary which highlights youth social conditions in the French suburbs. I have chosen to display some unknown faces and give them a platform to put their daily life, aspirations and constraints into perspective. I want to show a reality of France which will constitute an important piece of its history. Here, takes place a part of its future. There are 15 to 25 year olds who were born in France, but their ethnic origins are, for most of them, from north and sub-Saharan Africa. These, mostly young French muslims toil for many to abandon the initial social situation of their parents and to reach an upper status in French society. The issues are known and problems regularly expressed. 15-25 years old clash to the same difficulties whatever the suburb. They face many problems: premature removal from school, academic failure, decomposed families, violence and involvement in the illegal drug trade, unemployment and geographical fracture. What solutions are offered to them? I want to analyse the daily life of several young people from different suburbs, and look for the common issues that are restraining. My documentary is built by drawing an imaginary line from the northern suburbs of Amiens, in northern France, to the northern quarters of Marseille in south of France. First I started in the Parisian suburb, mainly Seine-Saint -Denis, in Villetaneuse and Épinay-sur-Seine quarters, but also in Asnières-sur-Seine (Hauts-de-Seine department) and Les Mureaux (Yvelines department). I documented the work of associations who train young, disadvantaged people for employment in a professional activity and profiling the dailylife of Moussa, 19, Yanis and Mehdi, 17 or Saber, 23 with the intention of showing the nature of the links they build with their district, their dreams and constraints they have to overcome during their early age. I reveal all the talents and the cleverness which exist in these districts, so called ‘banlieue’.
Then I went to Marseille North district. The city has been the subject of media spotlight due to a series of murders linked to drug cartels and weapons traffic in the city. The underreporting of such violence in the North district is impossible. But I chose to describe the daily life of this youth, the routine violence and segregation. The Guirri crew is for instance a group of young friends, grown together, early drop out from school. They attempt to find some solutions which come close to meeting what might be illegal. In Lyon suburb I highlighted the quotidian of youth involved in militant actions, like Rania, 18 who think the association as one of the pillars of a civic participation. Even if yet so few there are who really believe in the important of a kind of civic engagement. As France is not only made up of large cities, I decided to show those young people from working-class areas in a different environment and I made the choice of Saint Étienne, in the heart of the country. Here, I’ve met Wafa, 24, young lady who wear her headscarves for three years. I decided to follow her through the life of her Muslim community where she tries with some girlfriends to defend the voice of women inside the community. Sébastien

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