A native of what was once called the Gold Coast, a bastion of educated upper-middle-class black Washingtonians, I watched Chocolate City change over the past two decades through the eyes of an outsider. Visiting my mother who still lives on the street where I spent my formative years, I admit to enjoying some of the perks gentrification has brought forth such as the liquor stores on Georgia Avenue turning into brunch spots. However, I also saw what was once a neighborhood where everyone knew each other turn into the mini-fiefdoms of my new non-colored neighbors.
As open racial prejudice finds a home within the rhetoric of politicians from across the country and rekindles feelings of separation and segregation, I find people who normally wouldn’t consider living abroad asking me for advice. You don’t have to be a policy wonk or an academic scholar to notice the tide in America has shifted. Whether you want to talk about the abysmal dating scene for educated women of color in major metropolitan areas, the difficulty in finding a job that does not suck your soul out bit-by-bit every time you walk into the cubicle farm, the disregard for the lives of young black men, or the current president’s band of alternative fact peddling alt-right advocates (I mean advisers)—I am certainly not a believer in America as the greatest country in the world.
While President Obama in his 2016 Howard University commencement speech said there is no better time to be young gifted and black in America. I ask why limit ourselves to America? And what of about those of us who are no longer young yet still gifted and black?
For me, starting this site was the natural progression of being a lifelong expat or as some people call me a global nomad and jet setter. Since my first study abroad in Cote d’Ivoire at age thirteen, the adventures of life beyond the coasts has called me. In undergrad, I spent large portions of my time in South America, the Caribbean, and West Africa. When I graduated, like many of my neighborhood friends, I moved abroad.
After living in Europe and working on projects in West Africa, I went back to DC. I attempted to live a “normal” life but I still found myself taking busman’s holidays to photograph back in Brazil, Cape Verde, Italy, Trinidad, and Portugal. On my twenty-seventh birthday, while attempting to shoot a windowsill flower box in Rome I realized I needed to get out of dodge. I sent a hastily worded email to my boss announcing my resignation. Since then I have worked on five continents, learned to kickbox in Thailand, written propaganda in the Gulf, photographed deep in the bush of Madagascar, and gotten drunk on shots of beer with clients in China. I am a classically trained artist and I am impulsive—but whether you do it my way or plan it out (don’t do it my way, plan it out) leaving the familiarity of your surroundings can be a simultaneously terrifying and exhilarating experience.