London boast of Black culture and pride

Photo courtesy: Sandra Jackson-Opoku
Photo courtesy: Sandra Jackson-Opoku

The fact that London has a distinctive Black presence should come as a surprise to no one. After all, we’re in the midst of a latter day British invasion. There’s supermodel Naomi Campbell, actors Chiwetel Ejiofor, Thandie Newton, and that magnificent hunk of maleness, Idris Elba. And who among us who came through the ’80s and ’90s can forget Sade, Soul II Soul and Floetry?
Searching out Black London on the ground takes a bit of effort. Don’t go looking for the ‘hood on Black Boy Lane, okay? It’s named for a horse, not a human being.

“Now, if you huff and puff and finally save enough money/you can take your family on a trip across the sea.”

My hidden inner black girl geek may be showing when I admit to drifting through this 2000-year-old city with British-themed melodies playing in my head. I date it to the times before I started traveling, when my exposure to the world came through books and movies and songs: “A Foggy Day in London Town”, “England Swings”, “London Bridge is Falling Down.”

“On The Street Where You Live” is quintessentially London, though the city’s name is never mentioned. It’s about that fierce, almost stalkerish delight that comes from nearing the vicinity of a loved-one’s dwelling. “And oh, the towering feeling/just to know somehow you are near.” We’ll let that song be our signpost in finding our way to some choice spots on the Black London roadmap.

Where “does enchantment pour out of every door?” When you’re in hip and happening Soho. Once a notorious red light district, this central London entertainment district is now known for its nightclubs, bars, and restaurants.

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Top 10 must-see locales

Where in the world appeals to the traveler in you?

As we begin to see and live Martin Luther King’s dream, African Americans are finding ourselves experiencing more of what this world has to offer. We are achieving and excelling in the workplace. Executive positions in glass towers now belong to many of us. As a matter of fact, many of the glass towers belong to us. We have more disposable income and we’re spending it enjoying the world. As you plot your course of go-to spots, be sure to include these on your list (but in no particular order):

Paris: As we’ve moved up in the social rankings, African Americans have developed a taste for the finer things. One area of particular interest is fine dining. And what better place than the birthplace of fine French cuisine?

New York: No introduction necessary. It's the center of world finance, but also the hottest social scene on the planet and home to the famous Hamptons!

Washington D.C.: New York may the financial center, but D.C. is the center of power – period. What you’ll really want to see here is the extensive selection of national monuments, including MLK, national museums and soon to be added to the list: The African American Heritage and Culture Museum at the Smithsonian.

Rio de Janeiro: We’ve all seen the giant statue of Christ with his arms out-stretched, but most don’t actually know that it’s in RIO, just moments away from some of the most pristine beaches in the world.

Las Vegas: Bringing our list back stateside, Vegas hardly needs an explanation. It is the hub of live entertainment in its many forms – from magic to major stage shows.

Montreal, Quebec: If you can’t take out the time you’d really like to jump way over the pond and visit Paris, then this is the next best thing. Montreal is predominantly French-speaking, being that it’s in Canada you may actually find it more refreshing and friendly than Paris itself.

Dubai: If you want to see what extreme wealth can build, Dubai has to make it onto your list. Dubai rose from the sands of the UAE (short for United Arab Emirates), and is now a world-renowned destination by the sea, with a man-made island that can be seen from space.

London: Famous as the seat of the British Monarchy and Parliament, London should not be missed, aside from its history and structures that most have only seen in movies and television, London is perfect for pub-crawling

Beijing, China: Beijing is on the list simply because it’s a good idea to experience the diversity of a culture that is perceived to be entirely different from ours. It’s likely that you’ll discover, in reality, we are more alike than different.

Last, but certainly not least is...

Israel: For many of us, though it is most-always embroiled in controversy, the Holy Land carries special significance as the birthplace of Christianity.

mark anderson