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Race Relations: London better than NYC?

I’ve got mad love for New York. Since I was a teenager I’ve been traveling over every year-and get ridiculously emotional when I get on the flight back home. As I did two weeks ago. Regular readers will know I was there for the elections. But as a result of the elections, I had some very interesting conversations about race with my American friends.

I know in my last post I was talking about the UK being far behind in terms of having a black UK Prime Minister. And I stick by that fact. But in terms of race relations on a street level, for the first time I felt very detached from other black New Yorkers in terms of the way I see race relations. Because I’m English. I had the most amazing election night with some of the Parlour fam in Manhattan. We were sat in a bar jam packed full of young black people… all just enjoying the moment. But the next day it dawned on me. There wasn’t a single white face in that crowd. Something I can guarantee wouldn’t have happened in London.

I hit up my friend Craig and we went out for dinner. The subject of race came up again (he’s black). We sat in Brooklyn putting the world to rights and I told him that it upset me that I wouldn’t be able to bring my (white) flatmate with me to NYC and hang out in “black” clubs in Brooklyn, because y’all don’t mix. He found it shocking that ALL the races mix in EVERY club in London. Be you white, black, Indian, Pakistani, Oriental…. It doesn’t matter here. You won’t feel uncomfortable because it’s normal. In fact Craig said, “it sounds like some kind of Utopia. I don’t believe it’s actually like that”. Well, it is.

The following Sunday I went to church with my Jamaican family in Queens. In the car on the way back my cousin’s neighbour starts cussing white people, how often they wash their hair, how “nasty” they were, and other things that I quite frankly don’t want to put in print. I was so disgusted by what I was hearing, I cussed them out myself and made them take me home. I wanted no part of the racist abuse. I don’t care which end of the colour scale it’s coming from. For me, the phrase “some of my best friends are white” is true. Having a social divide that’s dictated by race isn’t a life that I’ve ever experienced. And I’m disappointed that a city as “forward thinking” as NYC still has those divides. Not going to a hip hop club with my flatmate because she’s white is just plain unheard of here….it’s not an issue that would ever come up.

So then there’s the choice. Would I rather live a racially mixed life in London, where I can rave and socialise with people of ALL races without prejudice? Or live in NYC where the black community is so strong, but the racial mix for everyone is still so far away? I still don’t know….

—Miss London

Like Miss London’s perspective from across the way? Read the rest of her posts here.

To get your view from across the pond, Miss London Party will be your guide. Every week, she’ll be casting her eye over the big stories happening with the Brits. From fashion to entertainment to current affairs to politics, she’s got you covered. A Londoner born and bred, she’s worked as a journalist for two of the UK’s biggest broadcasters, and is currently presenting daily TV news — so she’ll be giving you an inside view on events. In her free time, she likes sitting in the pub on a Sunday afternoon, going through the newspapers, drinking a glass (actually a bottle) of wine, and tucking into a good ol’ English roast. Cliched, but true! She plays netball, swims and is ever so slightly addicted to trashy US shows on her cable TV.

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