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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Living Here


As stated in the title of my blog, I am an African American living in Poland. I live in Warsaw. For whatever reason, I have been obsessed with the thought of "What does this mean?" I am not sure. I realize that I look different than most of the people I come in contact with on a daily basis (sometimes, I look different than ALL the people I contact during a day). It can be very strange. But, in all honesty, does it make a difference in the way I live? I think so ... I just cannot put it into words. I feel different here sometimes and to stop from "freaking out", I have to dismiss those feelings. In theory, I know we are the same. There are people here I relate to because we share common likes or dislikes or hobbies or whatever./ But, when sitting on the tram or going into a mall and absolutely no one is of African origin ... I can often get a little uneasy. Perhaps this is a carry-over from living in the US where race is still a distinguishing factor (despite talk of it being otherwise). I cannot imagine going anywhere in the US and not seeing another Black person. Of course, there are exceptions. I have been to small towns in America that have no people of color. Somehow, this was not as unnerving. Here in Warsaw, it can become so very unnerving for me. I really cannot give a reason to this except that I may be the culprit. Maybe it is me that is seeing and feeling all of this and others are simply seeing an American. I don’t know.

All that said, living here is an experience that is unique. I know two other Black people from the states that live here. I do not get to talk to them much because of many reasons. Nonetheless, we are a pretty rare breed, I think. The question still is what do I do with this situation that it may be helpful to another person in some way?

6 comments:

  1. Hey my Dear Black Man in Poland. I'm still reading your blog and I'm still really enjoying it but this time I must admit that I'd like to flick you in ear to make you feel more confident about yourself here. I think that you may overstate it all because I seem that skin colour isn't something so important. We have 2013 and there is still a small amount of African people in Poland but I think that seeing a dark guy isn't something soooooo unusual anymore.
    On the other hand it may be only my own opinion because I wish I were black hehe :) But it's crazy for me to treat somebody in different way just because he's from other race or country.
    But please think about what I said. We are in 2013 and Poland keeps progressing like every country, so an African, Asian, Indian or every other guy on the street started to be normal (especially in big cities), even if a few years ago it was a rare situation. I must recollect thet we also have a african man in the government. Don't worry man! I am white and I sometimes feel like everybody stares at me. It just can be little confidence. So be as confident as possible, be who you want, do what you want and live how you want! Regards!

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  2. Joel I reached out to you and got no answer. I am starting a blog about being Black, an expat and married to a non-American, non-Black woman much like yourself and I would like to share your story with others and grow your readership.

    There is no reason we can't work together.

    I was never unnerved by being frequently the only Black person in a room, on a train, on a plane or in a town/city. I have been to Europe and spent more than a month in Western Europe. I never felt uncomfortable. Then again, maybe its because I have grown up in mostly integrated areas its just not an issue for me.

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  3. Joel.. you need to reach out to the other black people there. you sound like you need to talk to people and have some friends. Its not that they are white or black. Its just that you are not feeling at home yet and need friends. I felt the same way in australia and it got on my nerves at first. You have to reach out and make friends and talk to people or you will box yourself in a corner and you will not have a good time. enjoy being different and find youtself a nice girlfriend and someone who you can talk to atleast once a week. You cant keep living in your head, you will beging to form stories that are not true. feel me?

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  4. TO: Blackmen DOTravel

    Well said ... I do live in my head too much ... thank you!

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  5. Joel...I concur. I don't think you live in your head too much and contrary to what "K" said Poland is not progressing. I am an African American woman living in Poland almost one year now. I've lived in smaller cities in the U.S. and have been the only person of color and I have lived in many of the major cities where diversity is second nature. I've faced racism at home and in Western Europe, but I agree, there is SOMETHING that I can't quite put my finger on (yet) that makes this experience unnerving at times.

    I will say that finding others who either share your cultural experience or others who are use to living in communities (countries) that are not homogenous could really help. It's the only thing that has kept me here so long.

    Let's organize an outing for African Americans in Poland! There seems to be more than I thought!

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