I must confess that London and I got off to a very bad start. I was initially very excited to finally leave America and experience the world outside of East Oakland, CA USA. After the heinous murder of 8-year-old Alaysha Carradine, the kidnapping of another 21 month old girl, and the unrest after the travesty of justice that led to George Zimmerman being found innocent of murdering Trayvon Martin, I needed to get as far away from my ghetto as I possibly could.
I came to the United Kingdom for respite, but what I got was reality. Before I could officially set foot on foreign soil for the first time in my life this racist over zealous security agent spotted me; “Black man alert! Black man Alert” she must have thought. “You looked confused,” is what she actually told me.
“I’m searching for the exit,” I said while thinking oh shit, here we go again. My instinct was right. This chick started interrogating me like she was training to be in the CIA. She asked to see my passport, what do I do for a living, where was I coming from, and “Oh you’re going to Paris? Paris is expensive” then she looked at me with great consternation.
I didn’t say anything but eventually I asked her why this was happening. I mean I had already been questioned at the UK border and they approved me. I had the stamp on my passport to prove this but obviously my stamp wasn’t enough for her. Right after I asked her this question another agent positioned himself about 15 feet behind her. He was on the ready just in case I should get out of control. But I was cool, externally at least. She told me that she was with security and she could ask as many questions as she pleased. After a little more verbal sparring she finally let me go. As I walked to the underground I couldn’t help but to think about how ironic it was for me to be heading to the birthplace of modern racism for some kind of escape. I literally laughed out loud at the notion. The words fuck her resonated through my brain. I wasn’t going to let her take my joy away and I proved that by having an absolute blast in Brixton last night.
I went to an open mic event at a venue called Upstairs at The Ritzy. Brixton is like the hood area of London therefore I, being the lifelong ghetto dweller that I am, felt perfectly at home. The Ritzy is Brixton’s local movie theater and they reserve a room upstairs for artists to share their work. Now when I heard that there was going to be an open mic naturally I thought spoken word poetry—boy was I wrong. Everyone that got on the stage was a musician. The first five acts where all guitarist, damned good ones at that. One of them had a Bob Dylan contraption in the front of his face and played his harmonica while he strummed away on his guitar. There was a trio as well. The lead singer sang and played the guitar, there was a heavily tattooed sista with an afro singing back up, and a violinist in the group. They played a beautiful mixture of folk music and hip-hop. Needless to say I was enthralled the whole evening. I was also quite a bit puzzled. I wondered why does the open mic scene in the San Francisco Bay Area continue to be dominated by people who seem to be auditioning for a role in the movie Love Jones. I’m not saying Love Jones was a bad movie I’m only pointing to the fact that it came out over 15 years ago. Get over it people! We have way more to share.
At any rate, the open mic event in Brixton was amazing. It was precisely what I needed after that lame ass woman tried to hold me up at the airport. I’ve come to far to let racial profiling dictate my mood. My European adventure is officially underway. Stay tuned for more stories.