This past Saturday I fell down a Strolling wormhole. If you’ve never watched the Youtube series directed by Cecile Emeke, you’ve been missing out. The docu-series follows Black people from various parts of the UK as they go about their day and discuss issues ranging from depression to clean eating to gentrification.
The awesome part about this series is the familiarity of the topics discussed in the series. Just as we over in the U.S. are declaring to everyone that #BlackLivesMatter so are our brothers and sisters over in the U.K. fighting for represeantion. They’re watching people invade their neighborhoods and cultural centers the same we over here are pushing back against the rampant gentrification plaguing most of our communities.
Amongst all the similarities between African-Americans and our Sisters & Brothers over in the U.K. there are also very real differences, and a lot of those differences have to do with our American privilege. In one of the episodes, a young woman notes how a movement like #BlackLivesMatter could never take off in the U.K. due to unique problems with organizing in the U.K. and the ways in which the British government discourages it. Another memorable point for me was the amount of media representation African-Americans have compared to other members of the Diaspora. One artist noted African Americans still have far more representation on an international scale than Black Brits or Jamaicans or even Africans. This calling out of the privileges we Blacks in America have enlightened a very important point to me: if we’re going to unite internationally we have to decenter America, maybe the West even, in our movements.
In the French iteration of the show, fláner, two women note how they learned English and can relate to African-Americans or Black Brits but potentially they cannot look to their international Black counterparts to do the same because we don’t know French. We can’t expect to mobilize across continents if we expect everyone to adopt our ways of thinking and speaking and are unwilling to do the same for them.
These are just a few of the revelations I had from binge watching Emeke’s Strolling but series like these are a great tool for connecting stories and lives across the African Diaspora. Strolling is a reminder that although we’re in different countries, we are all still united and going through many of the same trials.