April in Paris

April in Paris
Chestnuts in blossom
Holiday tables under the trees
April in Paris, this is a feeling
That no one can ever reprise
I never knew the charm of spring
I never met it face to face
I never new my heart could sing
I never missed a warm embrace
Till April in Paris
Whom can I run to
What have you done to my heart

-Ella Fitzgerald

When I came to Paris a few weeks ago, I was on a mission. After only training for 6 weeks with a coach, I just wanted to go there, complete my mission, stop in the hammam at the Mosque, and go on. But my mom wanted to join in and so I decided to bring my daughter, and boom, a family trip.

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This visit, I decided to stay in the ‘hood – as my mom described it, which was actually just Barbes, an enclave of African and Arab residents. I felt particularly at home here; the prices for everything were super cheap, I was treated like family, and I felt safe. My mom, not having been to Paris in over a decade, wanted to see the old postcard Paris, and went about her daily excursions in search of that fantasy world. I finally began to see Paris for what it was – a beautiful city struggling to maintain a civil life between European and African citizens. Racsim was very apparent, as I noticed how differently I was treated as a Black American; It was automatically assumed that I had money and would not be a nuisance, whereas an African sister would quickly be shoo’d away for not shopping quickly enough. The fact that our euros were the same was of little consequence, and I was ill prepared to fight this fight in France; I had barely begun to scratch the surface of race politics in America.

The city was unseasonably warm, and I ran the marathon comfortably in my sleeveless singlet. It was so hot at points that we were douse with hoses by the local firemen in every part of the city. But after my run, I was really just ready to chill and live like a local albeit with a young child.

Having my daughter with me gave the city a new perspective. To see Paris through the eyes of a child was really an exercise in reevaluating what I thought I knew and appreciating the nuances of a complex urban landscape, whitewashed in the guise of romanticism. I saw playgrounds, and toy stores, parent-child dynamics, and the lack of accommodation for children. It was truly an eye opener compared to the child-centered parenting climate in America.

Below, my visit in pictures.

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The Mosque, my sanctuary

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Some exhibits I wish I had time to see.IMG_6162

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A woman climbs the step of the SacreCouer in heels with her toddler.IMG_6365 IMG_6226 IMG_6230 IMG_6232
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Going to the Marché d’Aligre near Bastille; my favorite market

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Last night in ParisIMG_6441

Home, Sweet home.
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