I’ve been talking about moving back to California for a while now. Although I’m excited about eventually returning to warmer weather, I stays ambivalent about my decision. Since I moved to Brooklyn five years ago, I immediately was enthralled by black culture and the fact that I can actually enjoy a social life that was filled with like-minded folks. Call me “closed-minded” but I relish around being amongst thinking Black peoples, my peoples; I thrive from seeing so many displays of Black love and Black celebration.
It was clear instantly to me why New York in general represented the birthplace to so many great artists and activists. Besides just boasting a large and generally diverse population, New York has a particularly high Black population. When I talk to native New Yorkers about this, they just shrug. To them, this is normal. For a Cali girl like me, it is an anomaly.
Being from Oakland, people expect that I was all too familiar with a city invested in Black pride and culture but my experience has been very different. Oakland may be known for its Black Panther history, but growing up there, I witnessed a city which had very little options for its Black population and promoted very little pride in its dwindling African-American presence. If anything, it was a challenge being a Black girl in an area that seemed to take a fierce pride in multi-cultural pride (read: being part of an interracial couple or being “exotic” was very much favored).
In my post-college years, I got the chance to spend some time in Southern California. Although I loved Los Angeles for the weather and its landscape, it was another place that lacked in a way for me socially. In terms of going out and partying (hey, that’s what I did a lot of), it seemed that the only two options were to hit up a ghetto party or hit up a party full of Hollywood wanna-bees if I wanted to be around other Black folks.
In New York, it’s been a whole other world. I can easily go to swanky restaurants in Harlem or Brooklyn, and not be the only person of color there. In fact, I am often one of many other Black folks. This may seem trivial to a lot of folks but it’s important to feel like I’m part of a community, and New York does that for me. You may be wondering why, despite my love of the East Coast, would I choose to move back. Well, that reason will be explained in the next “Going Back To Cali” installment. For now, I’m just trying to soak it all in and appreciate all the wonderful outlets that this city provides a curious colored girl like myself.
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