Contemporary London, 2019:
When I first arrived in London I knew I had to meet black Londoners and see how they live and are treated compared to black people in America. I wanted to see if racism and discrimination are as bad in London as it is in the U.S. Initially when I arrived I felt that people weren’t judging me based on my race. I didn’t feel like I had to constantly be aware of my race and how people would react to me. I was a person before I was black. But after speaking to Londoners about Brixton, an area heavily populated by black people, the area was deemed dangerous. Actually going to Brixton showed something different. The area was nice, full of culture, and not dangerous as it had been portrayed. The experience just made me realize that London has just as many problems with racism and discrimination but the issues are more subtle. People aren’t overtly racist as they are in the U.S., but the issues exist.
During a tour of Brixton, the tour guide, who was a black woman, told our group that when she went to Harlem she was “afraid she was going to be shot”. Admittedly the statement angered me because I found that Londoners don’t talk about England’s history with slavery, racism, and discrimination. They choose to almost ignore their history, instead deferring to the U.S. It’s as if they are saying, “Yes, things were bad here but things were worse in the U.S. so let’s focus on that.” From another tour, we learned that kids in the UK actually learn about the U.S.’s involvement in the slave trade and the racism and discrimination there. Being black abroad was especially interesting for me as a DAAS major because I like to compare the struggles black people face in the U.S. to the struggles black people face in other places. It’s also interesting to see how different black culture is everywhere.