Yes, There Are Black Women in Europe.

October 23rd, 2009, byADRIANNE GEORGE

I remember summer vacations with my family–my sister and I in the back of our parents’ station wagon. We traveled from Washington, DC as far and as wide as Canada, Mexico and many states in between. But I never left the continent until I was an undergraduate and joined a group of African American students on a pilgrimage to Dakar, Senegal.

I made a point of kissing the ground after deplaning. And I will never forget how thrilling it was to see Air Afrique’s all-black flight crew, to hold currency with a black person’s face on it, to meet the legendary Ousmane Sembène, to participate in a naming ceremony, to cry at Île de Gorée and to hear “welcome home” from the many friendly people I met.

Not long after my pilgrimage, I visited London for the first time. I was a guest of Mad Professor who owns Ariwa Records and has the largest black-owned recording studio in London. I fell in love with the coolness of the music, art, club, pub and theater scenes, the vibrancy of Brixton and the freedom one feels when being an American abroad. I decided then that I wanted to live in Europe.

It was during graduate school that I discovered Brussels and how affordable it is (at least compared to Paris). I moved to Brussels, practiced my French, worked at the American Chamber of Commerce, earned a second master’s degree, joined a small communications agency, and four years later moved to Sweden.

My move to Sweden prompted me to launch the Black Women in Europe blog and later a social network, in answer to the question Americans often posed to me: “Are there black women in Europe?”

Then, a fellow black expat introduced me to Reginald Smith. Reggie is a smart Chinese-speaking brother who wanted to start an online magazine for black expats. We both understood how living abroad forces one to grow and stretch and discover news things about one’s self.

So, together, we launched and set about finding black expats around the world to interview. Through that work, we have found that the reasons for moving abroad are as diverse as the individuals who have done the moving, but that there often is the common element of self-discovery.

While living abroad, I have discovered how adaptable and resourceful I am and also what it actually feels like to be an American. In my experience, I get treated like an American first and foremost. When I was in Brussels, that meant being met with hostility caused by the local’s extreme dislike of former President Bush. But now that pendulum has swung wildly. Instead of being asked menacingly if I voted for Bush, I am often greeted with, “Yes we can!”

Adrianne George is an award-winning blogger and a Washington, DC native who has lived in England, Belgium and currently in Sweden. She has been published in, Black Meetings and Tourism, The Scandinavian Insider, Afro European Sister’s Network, Boston Technical Recruiter and The Turnip.

  • Julia Browne

    Wonderful to see this highlight on Adrianne George.
    She has done much to uplift and spread knowledge of countless Black women, their organizations and everyday lives all over Europe. She keeps a keen eye out for us all and we appreciate it.
    Julia Browne
    Walking The Spirit Tours of Black Paris.

  • Lisa Coffman

    Kudos on highlighting Adrianne George. I lived in Sweden for a year has an exchange student, and would have loved to have had a strong African American expat community for support. It’s great that Adrianne is blogging and pulling people together now – keep up the good work!

  • Sandra Rafaela

    Indeed wonderful to see this highlight on Adrianne George. She is an inspiration to a lot of black women in Europe!
    Sandra Rafaela
    Afro European Sisters Network
    Women of the African Diaspora

  • Trina E. Roach

    Kudos for highlighting the wonderful work Adrianne is doing. Via her site and network she has linked up several hundred Black women like myself over here in Europe, and given us a platform to meet one another and share our experiences, insights and motivation with one another.
    Keep up the great work, Adrianne! (Though not for a moment do I doubt you will…)

  • Black Women In Europe

    Thanks Julia! I must add that your tours of Black Paris continue to inspire people. I have been in touch with a women who recently took your tour. She and her husband took their first trip to Europe recently and your tour was a definite highlight!

  • Angela Shaw

    Excellent missive, it is structured so beautifully. Thanks for making me remember why I love my life so much. Your room is still ready for your visit to Toulouse and the south of France.

  • Sonia Haynes

    It was refreshing reading about your international experiences, I very proud of your accomplishments. Keep up the good work and continue to be a shining star.

  • XaiXai

    Kudos for highlighting the tireless work of Adrienne George. Because of her I have access to a ready network of accomplished black women no matter where I travel in Europe. I am continually inspired by the lives of the black expats I read about at Black Expat online mag. You are the inspiration for my dream of one day retiring to a lovely village somewhere in Europe. Keep up the the very important work that you do.

  • Black Women In Europe

    Thank you so much for your comments ladies! You all inspire and empower me.

Last modified: May 6, 2011 at 3:20 pm