Well, I’m back.
I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted something, but due to my summer job, the World Cup, and preparing for London, I simply didn’t find the time for TDL. But man, do I have a story to tell you guys now! Now as some of you may know, I was given the opportunity to go to London over the summer break. And thanks to all of you guys, I raised enough money for me to go on the trip. I remember vividly how I felt when I got on the flight, being a mixture of jubilation and curiosity. The plane ride was long and tiring, but you gotta love international flights (Virgin Atlantic is insane). After a long time in baggage claim, I finally met up with my other teammates who was on the trip, and began our journey.To be honest I didn’t know what to expect, but I was surely about to find out.
Now first off, let’s get the soccer out of the way (or “fútbol” for the next 10 days). As I’ve said before, I love soccer very very much, so to me it was exciting to play against players from other countries to see how they play and how we match up. At first we played well with a 4-2 win over a local club team. I scored, everyone had a good time, and we were optimistic about the upcoming games. But then we soon realized why the English Premier League is a little better than Major League Soccer, if you know what I mean. Our next game we tied 2-2, with both of our goals off of penalty kicks. It was rough, really rough,but a tie isn’t a loss, I guess. And finally came the last game against a better ranked London team,where we lost 3-0.We could barely get a shot off, and I wish I could play that game again. So with an average turnout of 1-1-1, I think that we could’ve done better, and we could’ve done worse. Not much to talk about.
And now, it’s time. It’s time to answer the question that I posed in the beginning of this journey. The question that will tell you all there is to know about where I came from.
“How does it feel to be a black boy in London?”
And for my final answer, I say: it feels like nothing at all. I know this sounds weird, but let me explain. When you’re a black person, and you live in the United States of America, you act accordingly. You try not to be too loud in public places, you stay away from the police, and you get your fair amount of side comments and interesting looks. In England, and especially in London, this simply doesn’t exist. To start, everybody is interacting with everybody. There is no racial divide anywhere that I could see, and we went to a lot of places. The interracial dating was through the roof, there were black and Indian and Chinese people doing every job a white person did, and it all seemed normal. Black people would walk around the same as white people and everybody else, and they all seemed to coexist naturally, unlike anything I’ve seen in the United States. I seriously was taken aback when I saw this, but it makes complete sense.
As I found out, England as a country abolished slavery almost 35 years before the U.S did, and there was no Jim Crow afterwards. Let me just say that again: there was no Jim Crow laws following the abolishment of slavery. Can you imagine that in the U.S, and the results that might have come from it? Maybe we didn’t need to get sprayed on by fire hoses. Maybe we didn’t have to go through Brown vs Board of Education. And maybe, just maybe, we didn’t have to see good people like Martin Luther King Jr. get shot. From public schools, to restaurants, to even the U.S military, all of that would have been integrated. Now there was still prejudice in England, of course, but everything would have been equally shared. So that’s why I say that it doesn’t feel like I’m a “black teenage boy” in England. I interacted with as many people as possible, I walked into as many stores as I can, and I made sure that I never shied away from conflict of any kind. And as a result, there was nothing remotely racist when it came to problems in England.I simply felt like a teenage boy, not a “black teenage boy” with all the negative connotations that come with that title America. Surprisingly, I had more problems because I was American.
It was such an amazing experience, that I will truly never forget. I don’t know how or when, but I am getting back to London one way or another. There’s no way I’m not. We sadly had to go back a day before my school started, but everyone agreed that this was the best trip ever. And when I got back and started my first week of school, I of course came to the loud and bustling halls of Grady High School. The same school where the teachers ask guys like me two and three times if i’m sure i’m in the right class (because i’m supposed to be in remedial classes, obviously). Yup, i’m back in America. Great. So that’s why from this day on I’m not going to give you “a black boy’s point of view in this day and age”, because that’s too broad. I’ve seen the other side, including my trip to Ghana last year, and at this moment, I want to see something other than the U.S for a while. From the sights, to the sounds, to especially the people, being out of the country sounds really good right about now. So right now, and from now on, I’m giving you “a black boy’s point of view in America”, because that’s the perspective that needs to be heard.