‘Black folks live there?’
‘You’re from England?’
Followed by a stark look of confusion. My friends and I often received this in New York when we spoke with our ‘thick London accents’.
You see, I think we blended in quite well in New York, apart from the first few days when we were reluctant to let go of the subway map, But many (I’m assuming) didn’t think that we were foreigners. That’s until we spoke. Then we’d get the ‘where are you from?’ question.
I must admit, I liked the attention. I like the fact that people actually admired our accents. The African Americans were met were especially intrigued by us, one guy thought we were putting on the accent, so I even offered to show him my ID!
But this experience did get me thinking; being black and British is normal to myself, of course, but very different to others in other countries. The thought that someone else could think that being black and British was not possible was quite baffling for me. But travelling has helped me understand that my perceptions of Britian and its inhabitants are completely different to someone else in a different country and vice versa.
I guess our presence to the people we had encountered was like a lovely surprise. We felt welcomed in the city, irrespective of where we came from.