What nobody tells you about grief and dealing with the loss of a loved one is…basically everything useful.
When I went to write this article, my keyword research suggested that a lot of people want to open up an online dialogue on the topic of death (there are currently around 22,000 monthly UK searches for the word ‘bereavement’ on Google and predictably, very little advertising competition). This is probably because culturally, British people aren’t the best at discussing our feelings, are we? And also, death doesn’t really sell ads. (Films – yes, but ad space, no).
In this country, I really think the ‘keep calm and carry on’, stiff-upper-lip mentality, borne of the war-time era to encourage strength and survival, is now stifling our most difficult discussions and making them harder. I witnessed it when my Dad got sick, with friends and family who lost the ability to ask about the most important thing in my life – which just so happened to be death.
So after years of pining over the melanin-heavy photos of AFROPUNK festival online and wishing that I had; 1), a Brooklyn residency. (So that I could stroll on over to the festival, then stroll on back to my apartment/house and pass out.) And 2), a fly outfit. (For the photos). I finally got myself together and actually made it to AFROPUNK, 2016 in New York City.
The annual celebration of black music, culture, fashion and activism takes place in Brooklyn’s Commodore Barry Park for a weekend. This just so happened to be about twenty minutes from where I was living; meaning the pass-out at the end was quick and easy and painless. Just as I’d always envisaged.
It’s a truth not universally acknowledged, that travelling while black or brown is a uniquely different experience to travelling while white. I’ve ascertained this from countless trips abroad with my white family members and, from my experiences backpacking around South East Asia and Colombia with white friends. Our experiences varied greatly.
Because as most non-white, ‘Western’ travellers will attest, dark skin can immediately denote ‘foreigner’ in a country without very many black people. White people are more commonly associated with travelling for pleasure and black people have to fend off a lot of different stereotypes associated with their travel habits and access to travel. So sometimes travelling while black or brown can be a little strange, to say the least.