Guest of the Inner Sanctum: American Black Chick in Europe!!!

by Terra Robinson
American Black Chick in Europe

Since 2003, I’ve been back and forth between the United States and Europe, starting with my first trip to England to participate in a study abroad programme at the tender age of 21. First stop: London!

Two things surprised me the first time I stepped foot in London. First, the Brits claim that we speak the same language. We don’t. It took me an hour to find the damn subway, which apparently is an entirely different word in Brit-speak. Not that it would have mattered if Americans and Brits used the same words, I couldn’t understand the accent for the life of me. Let’s just say most folks do not, in fact, sound like the BBC. But I digress.

Second, I was shocked by the number of interracial relationships. I don’t just mean black men in interracial relationships. I mean black women in interracial relationships. Black women who looked like me. Black women who didn’t. Short black women. Tall black women. Skinny black women. Curvy black women. Preppy black women. Hipster black women. ‘Frotastic black women. Wigs/weaves/relaxed black women. Dark black women. Light black women. Every type of black woman you could imagine. It was fabulous!

Perhaps I should explain. I grew up in Atlanta, aka Hotlanta, aka the black gay (male) Mecca, aka the WORST place for black women to date interracially. And that last one? Kinda bad for me since I’ve been cool with the swirl since elementary school. Hey that’s what happens when you got to a super racially mixed school. You realize that the white boys…and the Asian boys…and the Hispanic boys are kinda sort definitely as hot as the black boys.

Now even though I was down with the swirl since waaaaay back when, attitudes in Atlanta (and really the South in general) are a wee bit different. I often joke that my home state of Georgia was late to the party…the desegregation party, the interracial relationships party, you name it and we’re late to it (although we got nothing on Alabama…no offence to Alabamans). Atlanta is the type of place where anyone in an interracial relationship needs to be prepared for what I call the occasional “cut-a-b*tch” stare/side eye. Admittedly, it’s slowly getting better, but Atlanta is no NYC.

So yeah, given my background, London was like some sort of (good) Twilight zone-esque swirl Mecca. Seriously, my first hour in London (not counting that hour I spent looking for the subway Tube/Underground/Metro from the airport into town), I counted more black women who were clearly in interracial relationships than my entire time growing up in Atlanta. The normalness of the relationships, in terms of how interracial couples are treated in public and how they’re portrayed in the media, was rather refreshing.

That interracial loving is not exclusive to London though. It’s more common in Europe in general when compared to the US. Yes, I know Europe is big and contains several countries. So this is based on own experience travelling throughout most of Western, Northern, Central, Southern and Eastern Europe (seriously name a country and I’ve probably been there, with the exception of some of the former Soviet countries….give me time and I’ll hit the rest of them): in nearly every country I’ve visited I’ve seen at least one black woman in an interracial relationship…even in the fake tiny countries like Liechtenstein.

Here’s the thing that I’ve learned from living/travelling over here in Europe: you’re categorized by nationality first and race second (which actually likes to jockey back and forth for third place with religion but that’s another rant post). So, especially for my fellow black Americans out there, more often than not you’re American first and black second. Despite the media perception, Americans are not hated the world over. Most folks I’ve met have actually been quite nice to me and like to ask questions about America/Americans.

And I’m not going lie: sometimes you actually get bonus points and you’re judged as more attractive for being a black American. Is it fair? No. Does it happen? Yes. Should you take advantage of that? Hell yeah.

About this chick:
American Black Chick in Europe
Well, I’m American. And a black chick. In Europe. I’m 28 and have a MA in International Relations and a BA in Journalism. Now I’m doing a 6 month stint in Belgium for an internship, after going to school in London and living/learning French/working in Toulouse, France. And after that? I haven’t a clue. I think that’s part of the fun. Join me as I contemplate whatever’s on my mind: interracial relationships/dating, the state of the black community, politics, my (pseudo) expat life, those crazy Europeans, whatever.
The Man Myth