[Johny Pitts] free Afropean Notes from Black Europe ebook – Book or TXT
E nature and function of race and been educated at a few universities both in America and 3 separate European countries I m no expert but I know enough from my experiences to know that Pitts is confident of some of his philosophical meanderings in the book than he should be This may sound overly critical and I wish it wasn t because I honestly genuinely enjoyed the book But I think my biggest critiue of all is that Pitts focused so much on looking for the sensational aspects of neglect and ineuality that he said far too little about the ways that these communities actually LIVE Like the Sudanese cook in Berlin who made SudaneseGerman fusion food or the people listening to music in Lisbon into long hours of the night or the people near Brussels about 15 minutes from my current home who paint and play music I wanted far about what they do and what they love to be brought in along side of the extremely important discussions regarding the ineuality aspects of race and class The book really felt by the end that it was beating a single drum rather than painting a beautiful picture and I think the book would have been stronger had it provided nuance I really like Johny Pitts and loved the photographs in this book The whole premise for this book is really interesting travelling Europe and visiting areas where higher numbers of Black people live and trying to understand their experience in different countries and cities I though this book was really interesting and I loved some parts of it especially the bit where he has dinner with Caryl Phillips and Linton Kwesi Johnson that was such a delight I learned a lot and enjoyed Pitt s voice In general Pitts mixed history with memoir successfully but sometimes the history sections felt a little dry to me and the memoirtravelogue were my favourite Definitely worth the read and am glad I read it and will look out for of Pitts work Now I m openly biased when I say I loved this book Having studied European Studies with French and Spanish I could probably count the number of works by and or centered Black Europeans that I studied throughout my 4 years of study on one hand One of those being an extract from Franz Fanon I bought this book when it was longlisted for the Jhalak Prize earlier this year since my purchase it went to win this prize I doubt there could have been a apt time to read this than right now Johny Pitts with no book deal at this point no army of researches with a shoestring budget leaves his home in Sheffield to backpack in winter to some European places to search for how Black people live and whether he and others like him have a place in this place dominated by whiteness My skin had disguised my Europeanness European was still being used as a synonym for white Books that deal with uestions about belonging are always once I seek out belonging occupies my thoughts a lot Yes this book is part memoir travelogue bits of history encounters uestions but essentially it is about belonging Pitts ventures to various places in Europe and he says himself that he simply could not go everywhere and recounts some of the things he observes and the people he meets in cities like Paris Berlin Brussels Stockholm etc He wants to know what it is like to live as a Black person in this place The encounters are intertwined with Europe s colonial past the impact of the cold war on countries in Africa European countries failure to deal with their legacy of colonial and post colonial power and exploitation And he often wonders if he could live thereNaturally for each place you could write there is to explore to discuss but this book s remit has never been to be the ultimate book on this topic It is a conversation starter a beginning to confront many uestions of how we prevent Black and Brown and other minority groups from belonging in Europe You could fill tomes about each country He delivers a book that will HOPEFULLY ENCOURAGE ALL OF US TO LOOK AT THE encourage all of us to look at the scenes we see all over Europe and ask ourselves How did this come to be How do we create a Europe that allows all people living in it to belong Encouraging me and hopefully others to not expect all answers to be delivered on a platter but to explore for ourselves and look beyond the facade of white Europe I was sort of English almost British kind of European I started to seek out answers about my European identity in relation
to my black experience After ten years scraping together enough money "To Take Time Off Work "take time off work black experience After ten years scraping together enough money to take time off work Pitts left his childhood home in Sheffield in search of Europe s black communities A backpacker on a budget Pitts couldn t afford the contemporary euivalent of a grand tour so this isn t a comprehensive look at ethnic minority experiences across Europe it s partial but still forceful and insightful Pitts brings in an array of factual background material but his writing s often impressionistic than analytical although he does provide a framework for There are abnormally high mental health issues among black communities in Europe but my travels had been largely sustained by a very steadfast sanity which so many black men and women had managed to maintain despite often living under such bizarre conditions A real ourney through Europe and a ourney through the history of Europe and Africa their proximity and fault lines exposed in the lives of so many black men and women who have in fact lived as Europeans for many decades and made this continent great It is impressive that Pitts at such a young age has accumulated so much knowledge on the two continents his freuent references to art philosophy history and geography woven into his travels as a backpacker But it is in the description of his encounters that he excels among the people in the hostels at clubs in markets at bistros where he meets local Africans now Europeans depicting their lives within a range of fortunes some great second generation others less so still living in the European third world of the Lisbon favelas Racism is exposed everywhere even in the so called liberal land of the Netherlands and Sweden Perhaps his best passages for me are his stay in Lisbon and his trip to Holland Those revealed for me a Europe that is totally still in denial about itself and blind to its hatred and insecurity There s a long way to go still Great first read from this author I hope to see from him. Shantytown on the outskirts of Lisbon with its own underground economy and Rinkeby the area of Stockholm that is eighty per cent Muslim Johny Pitts visits the former Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow where West African students are still making the most of Cold War ties with the USSR and Clichy Sous Bois in Paris which gave birth to the 2005 riots all the while presenting Afropeans as lead actors in their own stor. Nces growing up there and the ourney begins with a Eurostar train ride from London to Paris Pitts and the reader who is made to feel like a travel companion and confidant of the author throughout the book oin a small group of middle class African Americans on a tour of Black Paris which was notable for the often boorish and prejudicial attitudes of the tourists toward their poorer and less polished Black brothers and sisters He spends most of his time in Clichy Sous Bois a well known banlieue suburb which is in close geographic proximity to the French capital but isolated from it due to poor transportation to central Paris poverty and a high concentration of African immigrants which left Pitts dispirited in comparison to his experiences in the city A short SNCF French Railways train takes him to Brussels and a visit to a much diverse and welcoming community in the Belgian capital and subseuent rail ourneys take him to Amsterdam Berlin Stockholm Marseille and the French Riviera and Lisbon He also makes a brief airplane Quando Vi Voc Ii Quando Vi Voc 2 journey to Moscow whose citizens have become extremely hostile and violent towards African university students after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and he escaped serious injury or death after he chose not to enter the car of a Muscovite who wanted to give him a ridePitts describes several vibrant multicultural communities where Blacks and Whites live harmoniously such as Ch teau Rouge in Paris Matong in Brussels and the area that houses the Young African Artist Market in Berlin He also travels to impoverished and segregated neighborhoods including the Bijlmer section of Amsterdam and Cova da Moura a favela on the outskirts of Lisbon in addition to Clichy Sous Bois He also describes how the people living in the communities came to live there their experiences in their countries and notable Afropeans from these areas past and present including the soulazz duo Les Nubians Otto and Hermina Huiswoud who were members of the Harlem Renaissance but emigrated to Amsterdam after World War II due to their communist activities and British author Caryl Phillips who he met for the first time in Brussels He also describes the experiences and homes of famous people who lived in these areas particularly authors James Baldwin and Claude McKay along with the notorious Congolese dictator Joseph Mobutu Afropean was an enlightening look into the lives and struggles of ordinary and famous Black Europeans and I enjoyed the Dracul journey I took alongside its author I ll follow his online blog in order to learn about my Afropean future brothers and sisters and copy him by making of an effort to engage ones I encounter during my future visits to the continent I m deeply torn by this book which I found enthralling informative and innovative but which is also littered with the sorts of problems that arise when the methodology is really thought through The first 200 pages or so left me captivated but the book began wearing out its welcome when the many flaws became easily discernible The crux of the issues center around the fact that Pitts is a very goodournalist a so so historian and an extremely poor philosopher Had he really stuck to relaying his experiences and telling the stories of the people with which he came into contact and maybe highlighted some of the historical situations as he did without attempts to proffer his own philosophical outlook the book would have been tighter and far valuable For example on pages 360 and 366 Pitts notes that blackness
Is A Construct And a construct and its value as a signifier of culture is limited nuanced and problematic On this I agree but while Pitts seems to recognize this fact in statements on pages 360 and 366 there is zero recognition of this through the rest of the book and in fact such nuance actually seems to be missing from his perspective Instead he spends most of the book picking racial fights at one point admitting he was doing so in order to have something to write about Black is not monolithic nor is Africa nor is black Europe Even the concept of Afropean can be problematic in this regard Pitts wants solidarity among black people in Europe over against the rise of nationalism but it s exactly solidarity and empathy with the majority meaning whites and the forging of racial integration that will stomp down nationalism and ignite unity across the continent This was also true of the civil rights movement in the US The goal cannot be to hunker down and get even tribal Race is thrust upon people but is not a necessary determining factor in who someone is at their core as seen by white Africans who feel African and black Europeans who feel European Race doesn t work that way Culture is created by 1 a group 2 located in the same space 3 at the same time Race is insignificant to the process aside from the fact that groups are often forced into places and times by societal ignorance such as many of the communities he meets in the book His own perspective is also at times deeply racist such as his thoughts about white and interracial groups at the Zap Mama and Public Enemy concerts or his insistence that black art if there is such a thing is vibrant while white art if there is such a thing is lifeless and dull p 133 where he refers to European museums as soulless His own ignorance seeps from these admissions but he spends much to European museums as soulless His own ignorance seeps from these admissions but he spends much the book laying confident claim to his many assertionsHis ignorance also extends to his thoughts on places he has no position to udge such as his ignorant stereotyping of the entirety of the American people and social situation p 212 and his philosophical depth seems wrapped up in a faux wokeness informed by twitterverse platitudes than by deeply engaged critical thought p 292There is a deep irony in a lot of this On page 330 when Pitts compares WEB Du Bois and Claude McKay Pitts seems to agree with McKay that Du Bois was really only effective as a racial propagandist while McKay was the one who really understood art and maybe therefore people But Pitts in this book in my opinion is himself guilty of a fair amount of racial propaganda and surface level thinking about the true function of race art culture and class in Europe Now I m no expert myself I m an American born white guy married to a black woman and we have lived in multiple European countries and I ve read widely on the tru. Y brown skin and my British passport still a ticket into mainland Europe at the time of writing I set out in search of the Afropeans on a cold October morning' Afropean is an on the ground documentary of areas where Europeans of African descent are uggling their multiple allegiances and forging new identities Here is an alternative map of the continent taking the reader to places like Cova Da Moura the Cape Verdean. .