RSS is proud to have Black Girl on Mars, Lesley-Anne Brown, as a guest blogger.

The fact of the matter is that no matter how well you have adjusted to your new life abroad, you will always be visited by a nagging longing to go home. This longing does not reveal itself constantly, but instead chooses to hide behind your happiness and optimism until, well, you realize that although you may even think of your new country as home, you will never, ever be really home until–

Until what? My theory is that this longing will always surface and that you must get better at combating it. The truth is, I can’t move back to the U.S. now. If I didn’t have a child, it would be another story…
This weekend my son sprained his ankle. But before we knew it was a sprain, I had to take him to the emergency room to ensure that it was not broken. We showed up at what was a very quiet emergency room. We both were well-armed: I had my students’ work to correct, my son his psp and new Tony Hawk game. The wait was not long and the staff, pleasant.

“You speak perfect Danish–It is not everyday that I meet foreigners who speak fluent Danish.” The doctor was young and had kind eyes. She was gentle with my son and I felt very comfortable.

“Well, I’ve been here ten years and to be honest, I am sure I am capable of speaking even better Danish if I practiced more.” The conversation was in Danish.

“Where are you from?”

“New York.” I told her. Her look quickly turned to disbelief. “Why are you here?” I explained to her that my son’s father was Danish, and well, you know…

“I would do anything to live in New York.” She admitted, “How to you deal with being here?”

“Well, take this situation for example.” I explained, “If I was in New York, I probably wouldn’t even have health insurance.” She nodded her head knowingly and in the end, I ended up, inwardly, to ask myself the very same question: What AM I doing here in Denmark?

Yesterday I had a talk with a friend of mine who now lives in Switzerland. Dmitri and I go back to ’94, where we met at The Coop in the Village. I’ve written about the Coop before: A fantastic little club that played Hip Hop and Reggae and surprisingly, had a mostly Black patronage despite it’s downtown location. The d.j. at the time, accordingto Dmitri, could have very well have been d.j. Spooky, but all I could remember was that he was GREAT. Biggie, The Police, Sean Paul–we managed to dance all night.

Dimitri and I ended up speaking for almost two hours. Like me, Dimitri is a writer and we both wrote for the same publications. He was once the Associate Editor at the Source and he continues his writing, to this day, in Switzerland where he is in the throes of finishing up his novel. With two kids and a wife, he has, very much like myself, learned one of the most valuable lessons inherent in having a family: that of putting one’s ego aside.

Actually, Dimitri lives in France, on Lake Geneva, in a little village where he and his family commute to Switzerland everyday for work or school. Dimitri moved to Flatbush, my old hood, when he was an adolescent and often his viewpoint is both as an insider and outsider. He is passionate about Haiti (his country of birth) and is determined to tell the success stories of this historically rich island.

It helped a lot exchanging experiences about being Black in Europe. As he said, he would prefer to be in the States, because there, there is more room for social and economic mobility. That is true. He said, “Europe is an old concept–there is not much that will change soon.” I have to say, I agree.

The other morning I ended up watching a BBC documentary about German colonialism in Namibia– this was the first, true Holocaust and all that they would later do to the Jews they did to the indigenous people in Namibia. When you look at the history of colonialism you understand where and why constructs of race were made, and you also realize how little many in Europe know of their own colonial past and the role their past governments have made in the devastation and rape of people and countries throughout the world. Now they begrudgingly give “aid” to so-called Third World countries when in truth, the amount given, or loaned, will never, ever match what had been originally taken.

This is the truth Europe must reckon with but by all accounts, she ain’t there yet. No matter how token a gesture some of us may think Obama’s presence in the White House is, the fact is, he is there. This will never happen in Europe.

I get particularly miffed at my situation when I get on the Metro. It puts me in a bad space: first of all, people’s ineptitude at using this form of transport grates against my nerves. All of sudden I realize how provincial this city really is. The metro is new, and etiquette yet to be established. It weighs my heart down when the faces that look back at me look nothing like mine.

Well, anyway, it was great to talk about how much we missed Jewish folk (if you’re from New York, you know what I mean); how difficult it was to get work despite our education (D got a degree from Harvard) and what countries are good to find okra and what not.

I try not to write when I feel like this. But it is an aspect of my truth. I am not happy with this current perspective I have of this world, and I will try to move out of this funk.

In any event, thanks Dimitri, for yesterday. We need to talk more often.

the lab

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