Au Nègre Joyeux, a large sign that dates from the late eighteenth century, is prominently on display in an area of high tourism in Paris, France. There is no accompanying historical plaque to explain its provenance or significance, and sources about the piece are contradictory as well as suspect. I argue that this sign is not only experienced as everyday anti-blackness but is in fact precisely that: anti-black. Not only does the sign reinforce stigmatizing representations of people racialized as black (thus “b” in lowercase), such visual imagery, guised as public art, also negates any notion of race-blindness in France, past and present.

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