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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Guest Post by Frantzie: Impressions of President Obama's Win in Paris

Four years ago, I watched the U.S. Presidential Election with close friends at a restaurant in midtown, waiting nervously for history to happen. All the television monitors in every bar, restaurant, and store nearby were tuned into the same channel. When the announcement came four years ago that President Obama won the elections, my friends and I let out huge cheers, embraced like we had just experienced the birth of our first born, and ran up and down the streets of Times Square trying to climb light poles and shouting, "Yes we did!"

This year, I watched from Paris, France, but I didn't feel a distance to the race. I felt excitement and intense anticipation. I wanted to be up considering the six hour time difference from home for whatever happened. I missed most of the news on the U.S. elections prior to the the election because I never turned on the television back at our apartment. I was too busy living my best French life. I never shared conversations on why an Obama win was important until the night of the U.S. election. I was insulated from the 24-hour relentless media coverage and it felt good.

The night of the U.S. election I met up with local French friends at one of my new favorite bars in Paris, Earth's Kitchen, ( where ex-pats, U.S. visitors, and Obama supporters united. We shared conversations over beers about our concerns. We were packed like sardines with droves of ex-pats and U.S. visitors from all over the  surging on the bar to witness the results, but it didn't matter. Shoulders touching each other and accidentally spilling drinks on one another, we were all American that night. I shared hugs with an Obama supporter from San Diego, American students from the prestigious Sciences Po in Paris and none of them looked like me. It reminded me of when James Baldwin first arrived in Paris and he mentioned that his first and closest acquaintances were white American students and artists. That night, I forgot I was a Black woman from New York. I was just proud to be American sharing a moment with my fellow Americans.

There's nothing like being home to watch the U.S. election but being overseas was a profound experience.

I gifted my Obama 2012 pin to a French guy. The way his face lit up...
And, then we celebrated a win.

The scene on election night in Paris was like the MTV Music Awards.

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