Among the many things I love about France—and living about an hour south of fabulous Paris—is that so many folks from home come through the city. I’ve already had a chance to spend quality time in the City of Light with some true-blue American friends who’ve visited here (Salut, Carol, Katherine, Kelly, Mary, Paula, Betty and Mike!).
What’s ALSO great about being so close to Paris is having the chance to meet wonderful new friends and colleagues who either are friends-of-current friends or traveling through town on their own adventures. That’s why I was SO psyched when the fabulous Fleacé Weaver, founder of Los Angeles-based BlackGirlTravel.com invited me to spend an afternoon with her and a dozen women as part of the group’s “April in Paris” tour. These African-American sisters spent two weeks living la belle vie in the heart of Paris, with Fleacé—who personally organizes and leads tours for sisters around the globe—as their fearless leader. I’d first met her virtually two years ago when interviewing her over the phone for a JET Magazine and JETmag.com feature on “African-Americans Going Global.”
Among the specially created Parisian activities was a makeover session at black|Up Cosmetics, which bills itself as the “#1 ethnic makeup brand” in France. A central Paris showroom filled with all the skin care, color cosmetics and assorted extras a fashionista of color could want, black|Up hooked BlackGirlTravel UP on this May afternoon. Fleacé asked me to chronicle not just the makeovers, but how international travel—and this trip to Paris—was transforming these professional women’s lives ….
Continue June 11, 2012
Just last week, I picked up a provocative new book: Don’t Bring Home a White Boy: And Other Notions That Keep Black Women from Dating Out (http://www.karynlanghorne.com/)(Gallery Books, $24.99) by Karyn Langhorne Folan. A sister who’s a Harvard Law School grad, former law professor and novelist, Folan plays off the unspoken admonition many of black women have received for generations. The author herself is married to a white American man, and in her book includes real-life anecdotes with black and white men and women as she explores the “notions” that keep interracial dating off the table for many sisters.
But what interested me most is her last chapter: “It’s the Same Story Around the World.” Here, she writes how “Traveling the world—and meeting men from other countries and cultures—can offer American black women a new view of themselves as desirable.” She shares the stories of sisters who’ve lived in Europe, who talk about the very different dynamics of interracial relationships on that continent and in the States.
Many mention feeling attractive, desired, and appreciated FOR their blackness, rather than in spite of it. Some talk about feeling “freer” to be themselves, both personally and in relationships, when they are abroad. And, as Black Women in Europe blog and social network founder Adrianne George reports: “I want black women to know that, in the wider world, we are perceived as smart, hardworking and talented. In short, the world thinks you’re awesome.”
Continue April 5, 2010
Late last month, I wrote about the “hair issues” we black women often face when traveling abroad—and promised to offer some tips about handling these when you’re overseas.
When I first traveled to Europe in the late 1990s, visiting a friend who worked on a U.S. Army base in Germany, I was doing the relaxed hair thing, toting multiple curling irons and assorted lotions and potions in my always-overstuffed suitcase. But once I started hitting the road with friends, all those curling irons became a royal pain. What a hassle to constantly be plugging in, moving irons from one room to the other, waiting for them to cool down before you could pack them, etc. And then there was always the issue of “what if it rains?”
Now that I’ve been wearing two-strand twist extensions for most of the past five years, that’s no longer a concern. BUT, I have gotten overseas and much to my dismay, realized that I forgot to pack my favorite olive oil sheen or softening lotion. This, my friends, can be a challenge—especially since overseas trips tend to last for more than just a weekend.
But if you find yourself in a city—especially in Europe—and have arrived sans products, I’ve discovered that black folks and Arabs (who frequently have similar hair textures as ours) often live near the city’s main train station….
Continue January 10, 2010