Lady Bison Abroad: Black in London

Teyonna Ridgeway is studying abroad in London.

Teyonna Ridgeway is studying abroad in London.

One of the things that excited me most about choosing to study abroad was the fact that I would get to interact with a diverse body of people. But I couldn’t help but shamelessly wonder, what will the Black people be like there? I was curious to discover what similarities we would share and the things that differentiated us. Since being here for almost three months, I have found that they aren’t drastically different from African-Americans. I have seen people of all shades of brown and women with natural ‘dos and relaxed tresses. One of the only apparent differences is when they speak with a British accent like Idris Alba.

But aside from their accent, there is another major difference that I have found between Blacks in London and Blacks in America. I have had quite a few conversations with Black people in London that went like this:

Londoner: So where are you from?
Me: America
Londoner: Yea but where is your family from? What part of Africa do you come from?
Me: *stares blankly and shrugs shoulders*

I rarely thought about what part of Africa my family was from before coming to London. Many of the Black people that I have met this far have a firm grasp on their family history. Even if they aren’t the first generation to leave Africa, they know which country they come from. I have met people from Morocco, Somalia, Ghana, South Africa – the list goes on. And I always get the same question, “But where are you from?” I know that my situation is different from theirs. Somewhere in time my ancestors were likely brought to America during the transatlantic slave trade. This story goes for a lot of other Black people in America – ones who don’t identify with a specific country besides America.

There is such a large disconnection between generations that I wouldn’t even know where to begin with trying to track my history. But the question that I keep getting asked makes me think about who I am. In the States, I know people who are aware of which part of Africa their family comes from or which island their ancestors resided. All I can say is that my family comes from Niagara Falls, New York because that’s as far back as I can track.

But somehow .. someway.. I plan to change that.


2 thoughts on “Lady Bison Abroad: Black in London

  1. I LOVE this article! In my meetings with blacks here in the States from the continent, they know their countries of origin but I can only trace my history back slightly over 100 years. This story paints a great perspective of what it is like for African-Americans who are decedents of enslaved ancestors. #Q2Q

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