why travel to europe when you're black?
It’s a question that many a black person who has travelled extensively or lived in Europe is likely to get from other black people. What you’re really being asked when you’re asked this question is, “Why would you, as a black person want to live in a place that’s so full of white people?”
In America, the ground, the very earth that i walk on is soaked and layered with generation after generation after generation of blood and suffering an oppression of people who look like me, people who i came from. There is a history of ﬂeshly violence whose remnant energy radiates up from where the soles of my feet fall each day all the way up to the very top of my head. This is not something to be dismissed, even though i doubt that many ever consider this. I, and those like me, have been unwittingly surrounded by, inundated with and permeated by this energy since we were conceived. The cells and dna of those who made us carried this energy.
Imagine growing up in a house. A house where your loved ones live. Your mother, your grandmother, your great grandmother. They love you, care for you. But they have suffered, and they are depressed. The pain of whatever caused them to be in this state of depression has never been remedied or resolved, so the air of the house you live in with these people you love is ﬁlled with this heavy depression. It is the only thing you've known all your life. So of course, you too, will feel this depression. You will know it as normal, as just how things are.
Imagine then, that you have the opportunity to leave this house where you’ve always lived. To go away for 2 or 3 or 6 months, perhaps. To live among people who may not love you like your family, but are not depressed. For you, this may feel like breathing fresh, clean air for the very ﬁrst time. For me, this is what Europe was like. At ﬁrst, the untainted air in my lungs was too much, too odd, too open. But soon, I began to feel a stirring in me that I'd never felt. This fresh new untainted air was changing me. My lungs grew stronger, my skin glowed, I developed new nerves, new muscle. My breasts ﬁrmed, my sex hummed. the feeling of my womanness was heady and intoxicating to me. I was ﬁlled with such a sense of joy and wonder... it brimmed within me... oozed from my eyelashes, my ﬁngertips, my toenails! I had feelings and sensations that I would never have dreamed were accessible to me... passion, romance and adventure that I could actually reach out my hand and grasp, draw to my lips and drink until I’d had my ﬁll. I became a woman I could not have become if I had stayed in that depressed house. My limbs and leaves stretched and unfurled. In that other place, I would have been a bonsai woman... beautifully disﬁgured and dwarfed. Here, I ﬂourished unfettered.
Still, I knew instinctively that this was not a forever place. I knew that I would eventually have to return to my loved ones. Was it not then my duty to stuff my pockets as full as I could of this new air, this fresh life, in the hopes of bringing it back home and sharing it with them? In returning to that place with enough light and nerve and muscle to do the work of healing even some of those old pains? Of drawing aside the heavy, dusty curtains in that depressed house and pointing out the window and saying to my loved ones... look! There is more out there than what we know in here. See! I have brought some of it back. Go out and fetch more of it for yourself. We will always have this house to return to, but we aren't trapped here. We aren't doomed to breathe only this air forever. So, when I went to Europe to live the for 6 months... just enough time 2 begin this becoming, Iknew i had not yet had enough. And so I went again. This time for 11 months. And then, a third time, for what I thought might be forever.