You are seated on a balcony overlooking a crisp light morning with a steaming cup of liquid in hand. As soon as your eyes meet the skyline, you beam. Your ears, tickled by the nearby train sounds and the sturdy feet of citizens pounding the pavement in their commute, perk in joy. If one of those passersby just so happens to look up, they immediately greet you in their native tongue. “Bonjour!” It is an unspoken rule that strangers speak because speaking makes you no longer strangers, and there’s no real space to be unknown in this city. There are just too many people for that.
You ride on the train, instantly melting into the fabric of commuters piling in at unseemly rates. One in your face and another right next and still, another behind. We are now one, and even though we are all different shades and sizes and even nationalities, we have in common the bustling that occurs inside of this city that never sleeps.
We are jostling together for a wondrous two-minute view of the woman who was once stolen and retrieved back. The one who gazes mysteriously out to her audience with a slight upward turn to her lips. Is she smiling? We think so.
We are one when we enter the chambers of Louis XIV, or Marie Antoinette tucked inside The Louvre. Or into the castles that still stand tall, like the Chateau de Versaille or the Chateau de Fontainebleau.
Our feet echo the halls of the greats. Our eyes drink in excitedly the works of men long ago who set out to capture the world like Napolean and his lineage. We marvel at the stone-cut walls and structures toppling over us, such as the Arc de Triomphe that behold the names of his conquests singing along its borders. We take turns taking pictures in front of Van Gogh’s famous Starry Night. We create an unspoken order of things, needing no words to form our lines because regardless of our language, the human race accounts for unparalleled consideration and kindness when visiting a foreign country.
Our hearts beat faster when we make our way closer to the city’s climax, the Eiffel Tour herself. She is bombarded with onlookers and sightseers both day and at night when she decides to really give a show and radiate sparkles of light in the evening hour. The days are long, so we must wait until the sun decides to leave around 10 pm, but it is worth the wait. I am ready with my miniature ring light to capture our debut of this epic event: the Eiffel Tower dancing at night in a cloud of lights. We join her by dancing too and do a Tik Tok right in front!
We make sure to catch more views of the city by marching up the stairs and into Le Sacre Couer, who requires much-needed strength and endurance to climb to its top. We make the journey, paying homage to our consistent workout lifestyles. But still, it is no easy feet. We are greeted by throngs of other visitors who persevered the climb (though some were smart enough to drive) and lift our chins in more reverence.
We are seeing Paris.
We are taking planes and boat rides and trains and every other kind of way to see her. We are beholding jewels in Chanel, devouring the truffles and crème brulees, the baguettes and Italian pizzas, and inhaling cafe au laits by the bucket. We are sputtering out our high school French classes that are tangled in the cobwebs of our minds. We are doing all the things and yet are still disheartened by the lack of representation for our people in these spaces. Though we see the Egyptians’ mummies, tools, and hieroglyphics, we see nothing else of Africa outside of some vague references of a few Senegalese folks.
Where is our contribution to this country’s history and wealth?
Where are our people in this story of mankind’s triumph?
We will have to go somewhere special to hear our story told. And so we take Ricki Stevenson’s Black Paris Tour.
To Be Continued…
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