Tag: Ricki Stevenson
Don’t know if any of you caught this on PBS stations in the United States last night, but a FABULOUS documentary highlighting called “Harlem in Montmartre” walked viewers through the roots of African-American jazz in Paris and the forces that shaped this incredible musical genre. As many of you know, Paris is my favorite city in the world, the one place I’d choose if told I could never leave. And when there, I love to stroll around the colorful 18th arrondisement where Montmartre, the city quarter spotlighted in the film, is located.
As the documentary showed, this was where black American musicians, artists and writers often settled when they arrived in the City of Light between the First and Second World Wars. There were nightclubs owned and run by black folks – even strong African-American women like Ada “Bricktop” Smith, whose club was the place to be. It was here that jazz greats like New Orleans native Sidney Bechet earned their fame; where entertainers like the beloved Josephine Baker (whose do-it-your-own-way life story never ceases to amaze and inspire me) performed and hung out. This was no small thing, as these black Americans found a personal and creative freedom they were denied back “home” in the United States. The French embraced them, and African-Americans in Paris embraced them right back….
Continue August 27, 2009
At the recent Travel Blog Exchange ’09 conference in Chicago, a fellow blogger and I found ourselves discussing why African-American women—even those with the financial means and interest in traveling abroad—don’t do it more often. I often think about this, as I always feel it would be GREAT to see more sisters when I’m running around Italy or Spain either in a group or solo.
For many of us, it’s fear of the unknown. We don’t speak the language; we don’t know anyone in the country we’d like to visit. But in countless conversations I’ve had with African-American women over the years, it comes down to wondering how we’ll be perceived as black people. Even without realizing it, being black in America—whether dirt-poor, comfortably affluent like “The Cosby Show” Huxtables, or “movin’ on up” like the Jeffersons—means wearing the subconscious burden of potential discrimination on our backs like the latest designer dress….
Continue August 9, 2009
I’ve had this theory for a long time: While we African-Americans sometimes feel our color can be a pseudo-“liability” here in the States, it certainly can be an asset once we leave our native shores and travel abroad. I was reminded of this last week when President Barack Obama gave his potentially game-changing speech in Egypt.
It was a striking sight to see TV cameras pan across the crowd gathered inside Cairo University to hear him. Most of the faces were some shade of brown, from café au lait to cinnamon to chocolate. From just looking at them, any of ‘em could have been a cousin, aunt or uncle of Obama’s. And while few mainstream news outlets have called it as such, one HUGE reason for our president’s broad worldwide appeal is the fact that he looks like so much of the world….
Continue June 12, 2009