A TOURIST IN MY OWN CITY

My experiences of being a tourist in my own city fall under two categories: Angela Davis Day and the day I found Magic in Shoreditch.

 

Angela Davis Day: 

This day had been planned well in advance but was still accompanied by travel anxiety and breathlessness. Photographing a lacrosse tournament in the afternoon, I cycled crazily to Canley station to catch the train to Euston, then the bus to Southbank, where Angela Davis was being interviewed by Women of the World at the Royal Festival Hall. My mum used to work here and I tried to imagine a younger her moving around that large building. Meeting a friend (a black woman) and another friend (a black woman), I suddenly became aware of how many (shockingly beautiful) black women I was in the presence of. I wanted to photograph every single one but they had not come for that reason. We all settled in our seats (along with plenty of other people who were not black women) to pay all our attention and respect to the lovely and honourable Angela Davis. I cannot even begin to describe this woman. If you do not know of her, just look at her Wikipedia page and you will discover 1000 achievements which will fill you with awe. Davis opposes sexism, racism, transphobia, homophobia, capitalism and the American prison system. Her activism is astonishing. She is so eloquent. She challenged the idea that feminism should be aiming to make women equal to men. Why should this movement, fuelled by the passion of those who have identified how they suffer under the grips of patriarchy, aim to make women like the oppressor? Feminism should be about creating a better future for everyone, not erasing inequality by putting everyone on the same crappy level. Furthermore, feminism as a movement should recognise the validity of defining its image by a black transgender woman who suffers all the worst of society's fears and condemnations and has to fight so hard just to be validated as human. Exclusion within feminism is an oxymoron. I learnt so much that day and saw beautiful expressions of emotion. I enjoyed a building reserved for creativity and conversation. I felt like a tourist seeing Southbank with fresh eyes. On my way back to Canley, I got takeaway Nando's at Euston and wanted to cry at how good the peri-peri salt tasted and how quickly the carbohydrates filled my belly. 

 

Magic in Shoreditch:

This trip to Shoreditch was not the most recent, but the most recent was a disaster. This trip, however, was unexpected magic. I left Liverpool Street Station with my friend and stepped into the strangest atmosphere. I felt like a moving figure in a film picture. The whole place was overexposed with the whitest sunlight I have ever seen. The mix of sunshine, thick mist and tall shiny skyscrapers created a view that I had seen many times before but never in these colours with this particular saturation. It was so beautiful and my words will never be enough to describe it. I saw buildings covered in reflective surface become suns themselves, as their reflection of the sun created rays washing over our heads. I don't know why more people weren't looking up! Stopping still in the middle of the street to raise their eyes to all this wonder above us. I got through the shots in my film camera too quickly. I was cold but warmed myself up with Malaysian beef curry and noodles, entertained by a friendly dog. I bought nothing that day besides food. All I wanted to do was see. I found graffiti and art I had never seen before and took my friend from Liverpool Street Station past Shoreditch High Street station to Old Street station, overwhelmingly pleased that I had used my day so well. Feeling like a tourist, I gained courage to take pictures of people while I was within their eyesight. I am still working on that. I have to remind myself over and over that the worst any person can do is ask me to delete the photo I took, in which case I tell them that it is a film camera, so I can't, then run away. 

 

I am writing this from (Greater) London right now, about to return to the confines of the dismal library on campus tomorrow, satisfied with the way I have spent my week here. At 2am last night, Chanel and I had left the club full of yet more super hot black girls in Hackney Wick, and were walking to our certain deaths in a green but unlit area near Stratford's Olympic Park. We realised that Google Maps was trying to kill us so we turned around and took to the pavement instead, enjoying the weird emptiness and silence of what is the strangest, whitest, cleanest part of London. Soulless like Canary Wharf but all the more offensive with the knowledge that the entire place was constructed for the purpose of hosting a two-week event. Still, it was just another part of London that I have felt like a tourist in. So much more to discover.

 

Photos taken on Canon EOS 550D and Nikon EM with ISO 200 film