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DeVon Thompson – Music, Memories and Moving ahead

In a new series of articles, black women living outside of Europe share their views from the other side. In our fourth article, DeVon Thompson discovered that music build bridges. 

France 1 DeVon Thompson   Music, Memories and Moving ahead

Photo: DeVon Thompson

Europe looms big!

France 3 300x225 DeVon Thompson   Music, Memories and Moving ahead

Photo: DeVon Thompson

That may sound strange coming from a black American woman but when you say the phrase ‘I’ve been to Europe people’s eyes light up, there is usually a pause followed by a ‘wow!’ or ‘you have!?’ The amount of Americans holding passports is low and even lower for black Americans. We know what Buckingham Palace looks like, the Eiffel Tower is one of the most recognized manmade structures in the world but despite many black Americans especially those my age (I’m an early 80′s baby) growing up with the sounds of Soul II Soul, Loose Ends, Incognito, Les Nubians and of course everyone knows ‘Return of the Mack’, the continent of Europe might as well be Mars for most.

France 2 300x225 DeVon Thompson   Music, Memories and Moving ahead

Photo: DeVon Thompson

I know Europe as a tourist, first in 2008 and just recently earlier this year in 2013. I grew up near a military base and had a friend who grew up in Germany as a pen pal; Europe wasn’t new to me when I landed at Frankfurt International Airport in 2008, although I was overly excited because like many I couldn’t believe I was actually there. Things changed when I landed at Heathrow this year, it was much more comfortable. I have a music focused blog and the ideas started to swirl while in Heidelberg, Germany on my first trip, I knew I had to reach out beyond my borders and found many of my associates were based in Europe. On my first trip and my most recent trip, I took note of the music scenes, the impact of American hip hop culture specifically. I felt that there was an energy that just wasn’t present in the U.S. I had the chance to visit Paris on my first European trip and I felt that Paris displayed just as much hip hop culture as you would see in New York City. Music was a way to connect with other black women in Europe some of whom are associates as well as those I met while visiting and I’ve learned that sharing the same culture interest transcends race even though we were all black women interacting. However the interest of music and hip hop was just a part of our initial meeting and conversations went deeper into racism, sexism and overall cultural differences.

DeVon Thompson DeVon Thompson   Music, Memories and Moving ahead

DeVon Thompson

 

 

 

 

 

 

DeVon Thompson is a writer and event producer. She currently publishes the website creativebeach.net, a website that focuses on music, travel and film. She has been writing online since 2008 and interviewed artists such as the Nigerian artist Nneka and UK MC Kano. DeVon has also written for several blogs and websites some of which include thecouchsessions.com and soulculture.co.uk. DeVon has also been featured on the London based creative culture site iamthenublack.com.

Next month Shaniqua Farrior lays out her plan to move to Antwerp.

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The Dating Truth for Black Women – Go to Europe and Don’t Look Back

In a new series of articles, black women living outside of Europe share their views from the other side. In our third article, Betty Byte (not her real name) spells out why she is determined to live in Europe. 

A benediction that was given to me a long ago from a beautiful, elegant black female co-worker of mine at my first job post college. She said overseas I would be showered with more male attention that I’d ever know what to do with and that if I stayed enough, I’d be married. My lovely friend is a jazz singer when she wasn’t working in the states as an office manager. She was married to a French West African man and had lived in Paris for three years. She told me this as we sat together sipping our lattes in Starbucks. I smiled and told her that I knew what she was talking about and how I had always planned to go to Europe with friends, but it never manifested.

Years later after Starbuck’s cafe chat, I sat alone struggling with rampant dating dry spells. I thought, what in the hell could I do to change this man less void I was trapped in?! I had done every damn thing in the book to find a mate. I had put up countless unanswered web ads (hello Ok Stupid!), went to Meet Ups, worked out like a demon, upgraded my appearance, signed up for speed dating parties, met with expensive dating coaches and memorized all current dating books. I did all that footwork and yet my phone only rang from my usual suspects – my mom, siblings, bill collectors and my job. Ahem and my ‘crew’ of 7 women friends had shrunk due to matrimony and moving away to 2 gals who were ‘in it’ with dudes so no calls from any of them. There comes a time in a single ladies’ life when you come to the Zen realization that you are very solo and trapped a negative dating space – even if that place is grand ol’ New York City. Thousands of women of various races, ethnicities and ages lament that the New York City is not the perfect spot for romance let alone marriage to bloom. This fact would make things doubly hard for black women, because if other folks are catching a cold, we get the Black Death.

I bought my first ticket to Europe after my boss joked if I ever planned to use my vacation days. You see, my job is my constant companion. Work had become the only ‘husband’ I had come to know since leaving college. My job was a selfish lover who didn’t care that I was lonely and ate most meals alone. So right after my boss went back to her office chuckling, I went to my desk and started looking for flights. I’m very embarrassed to say that I didn’t know anything about flights to Europe, airports, airplane security measures etc. The only thing I did have was a passport. It took me about a week to work out the details. I informed my now surprised boss, that I’d be taking a two week vacation in the coming month. I decided to Paris to visit an old boyfriend then London to hang out with an English buddy who had gone back to grad school in England.

Paris was challenging. I got lost every single day (even with Google maps!) and my French skills were poor so I could barely read street signs or communicate with anyone. I was terrified and baffled with my head buried in my travel guides. Although I remained panic stricken, I noticed I was often assisted by men, loads of them. When I told them “Je suis Americane. Je ne parle pas francias”, those French dudes (white and black) just pushed that fact aside and started talking English and found American accent enticing. While I stayed in Paris, I was hit on con-stant-ly. So much so that my, non PDA ex boyfriend was leaving work early to accompany me around town while holding my hand. I was still loyal (damning trait with most black women) so I paid little attention to the guys who were trying to wrestle me away from my ex there. The second eye opening event that happened to me while in Paris was witnessing all types of black women–the doe eyed schoolgirls, ones with children, those of a certain age, fashion divas, the ‘not so great looking’ etc. with partners. As a forever singleton, I make mental note of the black women that I pass that are with a significant others on any street. The number of black women paired up with various men was staggering.

Right on the heels of my Parisian visit, I took the Eurostar to London. I nearly fainted when I got to the border security for England. I was delighted to hear everyone speaking English even if they were riding my nerves questioning my travel details. My first time in London was wonderful. I shopped like a fiend at Primark, ate Jamaican food in Brixton and learned the global importance of football (Soccer as the Americans like to call it). I loved riding the pricey tube through the zones of London even if it did shut down at midnight. I made getting around a breeze. Once I got past my tourist activities (that took a mere 48 hours) I got right back man hunting mode. I hit the bars and lounges in the West End in my pretty yet painful Kurt Gieger heels. In London, I was insanely popular with the Italian, Spanish and Irish (Straight out of Cork/Dublin – not the States) fellas. I also took up online dating in London, it proved to be an efficient way of meeting England’s overly polite bachelors. The quality and looks of the men who responded to me was astounding. I have gotten thousands of views, hits and messages on my ads on various London dating sites. I had abandoned the practice in the States. I just ‘can’t’ with men online in New York City. It’s a joke.

In London, I saw the same thing I did in Paris, tons of black women with all types of men as partners. I remember seeing an advert of a couple getting ready for an evening out. It showed a montage of a black woman and white male prepping for their date together. The last scene was of the woman opening her door wearing a lovely evening dress while the spruce bachelor brought roses to his date. I stood with my mouth gaping wide open in Victoria station. People glared at me and tripped over my excess baggage while I watched the ad for about 30 minutes. I had stood in Grand Central station many times in my life and never seen an ad like this one.

Without saying, I keep going back to Europe making going back home to the States as painful as a root canal. Simply put my love life in Europe is exactly like what my soothsayer co-worker told me it would be. I’m exhausted of waiting for things to pop off here. I’ll become a mummy (not the child producing kind) if I stay in the States.

I’m hell bent on moving to Europe. Each year I keep focusing my efforts on finding ways to stay permanently.

I’ve learned many life lessons from my journeys abroad. Lesson 1 – Do not wait or depend on adult women friends to do big things with your life. If you want something, make it happen yourself. Lesson 2 – Learn a language. It will help your career and widen social/romantic opportunities. Lesson 3 – Do not ignore the hard truth about time – You do not have forever. Lesson 4 – Life is not meant to be lived alone. Do want you need to find a partner or a husband. You deserve a mate.

Now some folks are going to have words with what I’ve described. With daggers in teeth, they will be growling that there are hordes of spouse less black women in London/ Paris or that black women’s dating lives will not be enriched if they decide to live there. Please do not listen to these trolls because it is simply not true. Yes there are dating choices for black women in the states but our numbers are overwhelming – it much better for black women to ‘Hunger Games’ their dating game and head to places where your ‘odds are forever in your favor’. I’m not waiting for the dating supernova to happen to black women. I’m leaving and going to Europe.

My love don’t live here anymore. Actually, it never has.

Soon to be expat in the way of James Baldwin, Josephine Baker, Janet Jackson and Tina Turner,

Betty Byte is a New York City writer, bedroom dj and frequent flyer on Virgin International Airlines.

Next month DeVon Thompson explains how music crosses cultures.

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Kendra Williams-Valentine and the European Business Plan of the Year – Very tasty

Source: Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship

SSES at European Business Plan of the Year

kendra Kendra Williams Valentine and the European Business Plan of the Year   Very tasty

Kendra getting up close and personal with the local butter at the Borough Market.

SSES was represented on June 7-9 at the London Business School by Kendra Williams-Valentine. Her business idea for flavoured cultured sweet cream butter, tentatively called ‘Better Butter’ left left judges and competitors skiing for more in the finals of the European Business Plan of the Year Competition.

Kendra has developed a special process for making the butter where she can meld organic ingredients to create unique flavour profiles. She had a couple of delicious varieties with her in London that were served to the jury after her presentation – on knäckebröd, of course – and later the same night to her competitors with a barbecue dinner, showcasing the versatility of the product.

The team didn’t make it all the way this time but with the support and valuable feedback from the jury Kendra felt like they came out as the winning team anyway. “We of course would have preferred a win, but I am certainly not ashamed of the reason why we did not, the business concept and team are genuine. We got so much enthusiasm and great feedback from everyone, I feel like ‘I’ should have paid out a cash prize myself.” On representing SSES Kendra said “it was great to represent SSES at the competition; it was easy to see how interdisciplinary cooperation shapes SSES contenders to stand out from a crowd of the more traditional MBA students.”

Dr. Terrence Brown who coached the team and noted that “The jury had no doubt this business could succeed. The only question was how big Kendra wanted to take it. The only strong critique centred on why she was not already selling the product.”

Congratulations to Kendra, and we are looking forward to trying or better still, buying Better Butter.

Editor’s note: I know Kendra and am so proud of her! I have been fortunate enough to taste her cooking and am looking forward to her new venture. It is sure to be tasty.

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Fancy yourself as the Face of Mink?

2011 Power Lister Funmi Odegbami’s company, MINK, launches exciting contest.

The Face of MINK 2012 Model Search!

EntryConditions 300x223 Fancy yourself as the Face of Mink?

Fancy yourself as the face of MINK 2012?

Award winning makeup agency and school, MINK, is looking for a new face to front its campaign in 2012. Over the next few weeks, MINK’s team of creatives will be searching the country to find the girl who will front the MINK campaign. Do you think you have what it takes? Simply follow the instructions below to enter.

As well as the chance to be The Face of MINK 2012, the winner will also earn £500 for a day’s work; get a MINK makeup kit and free entry to MINK’s worldwide events for 2012. Secondary prizes are also up for grabs for the runner ups.

How to enter the competition:

Step One – Short listing

Post a 30 second video clip on YouTube telling the judging panel why you think you would be the best candidate for the job. Please click here for existing application videos.

Send the link to your video to: competitions@thisismink.com along with the following information:

· Full name
· Phone
· Age
· Picture(s)

Step Two – Photo shoot & Recording of a TV Commercial

Shortlisted applicants will take part in a makeover day with MINK’s hair and makeup team at a London Studio.
You will then be required to take part in a photo shoot and a scripted TV commercial

Step Three – Selecting the Face of MINK 2012

The judges will use the pictures taken at the photo shoot and the best clips from the TV commercials to pick the eventual winner

Step 4 – Announcing the winner

The finalist will take part in a press day where the eventual winner will be announced to the world
If you have any questions then please direct them to competitions@thisismink.com

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Do you live in Paris or London? Love all things beauty? Bloggers wanted.

Hello Beautiful BWIE!

Do you love to talk all things beauty? Well Isabis is looking for YOU to try our products and tell us and the world what you think! We are launching a beauty social commerce website where ethnic women in Europe will be able to shop for great products that have not hit the European market and you could be one of the first to try them! Some of our products are 100% natural while others are super hydrating, especially for textured hair. Not to mention a great line of products called Specific Beauty which was developed by a black female dermatologist for women with multi-hued skin tones..finally a product for us with science and medicine to back it up!

We are in Paris and London on a promotional tour for the website and would love to meet with 5 women (of different hair and skin types) to talk about an opportunity to review our products. Of course this is at no cost to you..just take it, try it, talk about it. If you are interested, please send us a message on BWIE (comment on this post) or Isabisbeauty@gmail.com (Subject: Product Reviews).

Paris Dates: October 22 and October 26 2011

Meeting Location: TBA (Champs Elysées)

Time: We will work with your schedule

London Dates: October 29 2011

Meeting Location: TBA (City center)

If you don’t live in Paris or London, we would still like to chat with you! Send us a message:)

Share Beauty. Shop Beauty.

 Do you live in Paris or London? Love all things beauty? Bloggers wanted.

pixel Do you live in Paris or London? Love all things beauty? Bloggers wanted.

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