In a new series of articles, black women living outside of Europe share their views from the other side. In our fourth article, DeVon Thompson discovered that music build bridges.
Europe looms big!
That may sound strange coming from a black American woman but when you say the phrase ‘I’ve been to Europe people’s eyes light up, there is usually a pause followed by a ‘wow!’ or ‘you have!?’ The amount of Americans holding passports is low and even lower for black Americans. We know what Buckingham Palace looks like, the Eiffel Tower is one of the most recognized manmade structures in the world but despite many black Americans especially those my age (I’m an early 80’s baby) growing up with the sounds of Soul II Soul, Loose Ends, Incognito, Les Nubians and of course everyone knows ‘Return of the Mack’, the continent of Europe might as well be Mars for most.
I know Europe as a tourist, first in 2008 and just recently earlier this year in 2013. I grew up near a military base and had a friend who grew up in Germany as a pen pal; Europe wasn’t new to me when I landed at Frankfurt International Airport in 2008, although I was overly excited because like many I couldn’t believe I was actually there. Things changed when I landed at Heathrow this year, it was much more comfortable. I have a music focused blog and the ideas started to swirl while in Heidelberg, Germany on my first trip, I knew I had to reach out beyond my borders and found many of my associates were based in Europe. On my first trip and my most recent trip, I took note of the music scenes, the impact of American hip hop culture specifically. I felt that there was an energy that just wasn’t present in the U.S. I had the chance to visit Paris on my first European trip and I felt that Paris displayed just as much hip hop culture as you would see in New York City. Music was a way to connect with other black women in Europe some of whom are associates as well as those I met while visiting and I’ve learned that sharing the same culture interest transcends race even though we were all black women interacting. However the interest of music and hip hop was just a part of our initial meeting and conversations went deeper into racism, sexism and overall cultural differences.
DeVon Thompson is a writer and event producer. She currently publishes the website creativebeach.net, a website that focuses on music, travel and film. She has been writing online since 2008 and interviewed artists such as the Nigerian artist Nneka and UK MC Kano. DeVon has also written for several blogs and websites some of which include thecouchsessions.com and soulculture.co.uk. DeVon has also been featured on the London based creative culture site iamthenublack.com.
Next month Shaniqua Farrior lays out her plan to move to Antwerp.