I love Europe. The architecture is simply stunning. I love their effortless style and lack of affect. This last trip to Barcelona and the Spanish island of Mallorca was my fourth visit across the pond and was no exception. (Happy birthday to meeeee!!)
I also love the islands and the beach. It’s my happy place. But unlike the islands where you can trip over “us,” my first thought is always “where’s the black folk?!”
This can either mean expats or Africans. I have to be clear because we (and I) must do better at not drawing those lines of demarcation. We are allllll black.
One of the things that remains remarkable to me is that while there are certainly areas with a high concentration of melanated peoples, they are oftentimes slums. AND we are viewed as rich Americans, basically white folks. So as I try not to draw these cultural lines (“Yeah they’re black but they’re African.” What does this even mean? I have to check myself regularly), I realize that lines are also being drawn from their perspective.
The point is that there are no black middle class clusters like in the US. Educated and/or monied blacks just integrate, more often than not spotted in integrated groups. Not in melanated crews like me and my travel companions. It truly blows my mind every time how both black and white Europeans stare. Every. Time. I don’t feel offended or even annoyed. I really believe they’re unaccustomed to seeing a group of middle class black Americans all together. But there must be other crews rolling through there, right? I will have to tag some of my friends who are travellers and my African homies to see if I’m off the mark.
All that to say, I ain’t find the black folk spot. And I think we missed the monthly hip hop and afrobeat parties. I searched google beforehand and found very little until I happened upon the Afropean blog, which is where I got most of my info. Some of the travel posts talked about this very thing. Where we at as a group?? Outside of the ghettos? I can do a hood spot on occasion at home but not in another city. Go with the devil you know, ya know?
Even in Mallorca, we were the only black folk on the whole beach at first vacationing and not working for the hotel. Finally, we saw a literal handful of us. It was exciting. I was like “Hello!” They’re looking like, mmkay yeah, pipe down ma’am. Lol. Side note: why do we all play the count the black folks game though? It may not matter and we may not mention it but it’s definitely noted.
I for sure wanted to take in Spanish culture and did fairly OK as the group translator but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to see us. Nonetheless, it was a grand time. We shopped a little. We visited the Picasso Museum. It was just lovely. I learned so much about him that I never knew. Got to see the famous cathedral Sagrada Familia—from the outside. Sold out for several days. My bad! Yet and still a magnificent piece of work, even at a distance, from the famed Spanish architect Gaudi. He had his hand in much of the city’s building design. So much detail and craftsmanship in that and his other works, including his signature colorful tile patterns. We got to see Nigerian Afrobeat star Seun Kuti (son of Fela, brother of Femi) perform at the La Mercé Festival, under the stars and on the water. The diaspora was represented up in there but still outnumbered by far by white Europeans. No big whoop, just surprising. In Mallorca, we got to put our feet in the Mediterranean Sea! There was something so special about this to me. Not just because the water was the most vivid cerulean blue but because of its biblical significance. And, of course. there was so much good food! The best paella. Fresh seafood. Everything was delicious. And I promise I think I ate all the olives in Spain (green Spanish olives are yum) and drank all the cava humanly possible. Even the empanadas/samosas from the random man at the festival were good. A dice roll but good. The food is a whole nother article by itself. Even the bottled water tasted pure and clean and blessed by the gods. I started calling it “Jesus Water.”
I highly recommend paying a visit if you love architecture, art, design, food and just learning other people’s cultures. It’s not a cheap getaway per se but the experience is well worth rubbing your nickels together. And if you find some pockets of black folks, let me know!
Adios for now!