Chapter 2. Leaving my Hood

  • My challenge: People in Paris see my Black body as inferior
  • My choice: Go to London where I face less prejudice
  • Vulnerability side of my story: I was an introverted chubby kid, scarred by how people perceived me

I was lucky in my life. I am very grateful for it. One of my most significant luck was to travel outside of France at a very young age. I am not talking about flying back to Martinique. I mean abroad, like a country where you have no ties. A country where you do not know the culture and can barely talk the language. My first trip abroad was to the UK. I was about 11. It was in a suburb of London. The second time was 1 or 2 years later. This time to NY state, a small city called Fairport, nearby Rochester. Are you wondering why I remember this town so well? Because it is the first time (and only), I felt like a celebrity. I mean a major star. I could not walk more than 15 minutes without a girl giving me a note with their name and flirty messages.

Sounds nice for a pre-teen in general, right? Now imagine how that must have felt to me… a chubby boy of average size. A boy who would get 0 attention from girls back in France. A boy that would hear “it is better if we stay friend” when he asked girls out. I was that good friend. That guy defined as “cute” but that you do not want to kiss. Suddenly I am in the US, and overnight everything changes. I hear things like “Claude I want to f*ck you” when I step into the school bus (wide eyes emoji). What is going on? I am the exact same person but in a different time zone. My skin color now means handsome, not wide nose. My hairdo is cool, not carpetlike. Even the same girls that would not give me the time of day in France, now that all the American girls want my body, that French girl is down too… What is going on!!!

During these 2 weeks, I may not have capitalized on my newfound popularity 🤦🏾‍♂️🤦🏾‍♂️🤦🏾‍♂️, but I learned something valuable: Beauty is in the beholder’s eyes. There aren’t universal truths when it comes to people. I may not be your type, but I will be the type of someone else. You may not value my story, but someone will see himself/herself in it and build on it. You may not think I am the right candidate for the job you are offering, someone with a much better job will find me exceptional!  

It is all about finding your tribe. People with the right worldview for you. I mostly found it when traveling abroad. A few years later, I experienced the same in Germany, the same years much later in Sweden, and even more when I went to Mexico. Note: this did not work in Spain, Italy or Portugal :/.

Why did I have to wait for so long to experience the feeling of fitting in? That level of confidence could energize anyone to be at their best and give their best. Unfortunately, many minorities are considered inferior by people in powerful position, and sometimes internalize that feeling.