What It Means To Be Black, Beautiful And European

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noemie-lenoirAt times it can be hard to imagine life beyond our cozy (and sometimes not-so-cozy) bubble here in America, especially given the massive influence of urban and African American culture, fashion and lifestyle in our society. From the movies we watch to the music we enjoy, from the celebrity gossip we read to the scandals we wait for, we’re often saturated with so many American choices that its challenging and, to some, unnecessary to ever truly comprehend what it means to be black, beautiful and living anywhere but here.Europe is an obvious starting point in any discussion of this nature, not least of all because of the equally impressive force of European fashion, the Euro-lifestyle and the admiration that many have for its approach to social inclusion.

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But life as a black women in Europe is certainly not easy. Black European women, like many minority groups there, continue to be marginalized as a result of gender and race, albeit in ways that are different to those that a sister faces in America.

Europe is also currently dealing with a serious social backlash towards illegal immigration including from Africa’s Sub-Sahara. Many immigrant risk their lives to enter Europe via the Mediterranean Sea, some of whom have died or have been deported in the process.

Legal or not, there is a notable presence of recently arrived African immigrants in Europe who bring with them traditional styles of dress, cuisine and music. Access to these traditions is made easy, depending on the time of year you’re in Europe, through cultural festivals celebrating traditional African customs.

For those beautiful, black European women born in the continent we can only assume that many suffer from a clash of identities as a result of belonging to a visibly different minority group in Europe yet having been born, raised and educated there (so we invite all European members of black planet to share with us their experiences in being black and European.)

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But let’s not forget to celebrate! Europe has produced some admirable and frankly gorgeous women to be proud of. If you want fashion you have the incomparable runway diva Naomi Campbell and more recently French sister, Noémie Lenoir. Musically, there’s Estelle, Alexandra Burke and the countless British pop groups featuring those soulful European voices (think Liberty X and Spice Girls). European governments are also beginning to see the arrival more and more black representatives in relation to the growth of the black community in Europe.

So, what are your thoughts? How do you imagine life for the sister of Europe?

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