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I have been blessed with the opportunity to be able to fully immerse myself in a different culture. This being my first time being overseas long-term, this experience gave me a new outlook on life. I’ve observed how people treat each other, especially minorities, and how it compares to how people of color are treated in the United States. For the first time, I wasn’t forced to be aware of my race 100% of the time because where I went was extremely diverse and wasn’t overtly racist. Of course every country has its problems, but it was refreshing to be able to be myself and not have to defend my appearance or defend my position in the environment in which I resided. This experience was much needed and gave me a completely new outlook racial relations.
I identify as a cis-gender, heterosexual, Black woman. I recognize that my sexuality grants me certain privileges that my gender and race do not. In the United States, I’m constantly aware of my race first, then my gender because it’s necessary for not only survival, but comfortability in spaces that weren’t meant for me to be in. I’m constantly aware if I’m the only Black person in the room, if I’m the only Black woman in the room, or if I’m the only woman in the room. My gender and my race are constantly intersecting, which isn’t always a negative aspect, but it can be exhausting at times. During my time abroad, I noticed that I didn’t have to be aware of my race all the time, because of the strong, diverse culture and attitude that I felt from the people in London. It was relaxing and refreshing to be able to be my authentic self without having to defend my appearance or explain it.
During my study abroad experience, we went on a series of excursions to different parts of London. One of the trips that we took was in Brighton. Brighton has one of the largest LGBTQ populations in the United Kingdom. This city was instrumental in obtaining civil rights for LGBTQ people and also housed some of the most famous writers and activists that people outside of the UK would have never known were a part of this community. Learning about this rich history made me realize the privileges that I do have. These privileges that allow me to walk freely with my partner in public and enjoy other basic, everyday practices, gave me more insight on what it means to be an ally of the LGBTQ community and recognize the intersections within this community.