Euromight: A Quest to Capture the Afro-European Narrative

Khalil Abdullah | 8/1/2013, 6 a.m.

It talks about the lives of people of color arriving and being confronted by signs, “No Coloreds Here” — you know, the usual. And these were people coming to what they thought would be a welcoming place, a place they had read about, a place that they learned about in schools in the Caribbean and in Africa as if it was their backyards. But when they arrived, they were at best ignored and at worst abused. Their credentials weren’t recognized. Some who were teachers in their birthplace, for example, had to work menial jobs.

What makes Euromight.com a distinctive site?

We started working on the concept in early 2009 and launched later that year in September. I wanted to attract a cross-section of people on all levels, from people who were interested in hard news and politics to those who were just interested in the Ghanaian guy who won the Italian version of America’s Got Talent, Italy’s Got Talent.

I wanted to be able to have this hub, this repository, this living positive information for people. The site has a section called “People Watch,” which features various political figures in different countries. We have an Afrocentric City Guide to many capital cities in Europe that you’d never think of as having an Afrocentric component.

What is an example of a European capital city you feel the world sees through only a Eurocentric lens?

Rome. We just put the new City Guide on the site. There are areas in Rome where a lot of African people live. There are restaurants, there are bookstores, there are traders. You’d never know unless you had some kind of information — information that we have.

Paris is well known. Obviously there are a lot of places in Paris, markets where there are African, Caribbean people, and there are whole neighborhoods. I found a hotel in Paris, owned by a Jamaican woman, where I stay whenever I go.

The adventure is really finding what the contribution is on every level. And I know when I go to a city in Europe, I want to know where people of color live. That’s part of my experience. We wanted to be able to do that work and, of course, it’s fun. I get to have this thrill. I get information; I’m learning as I go. One of our contributors might discover an Afro-Belgian writer I’ve never heard of, or somebody doing a TV show who is Afro-German. It’s mind-boggling, our contribution and our invisibility — not only to the world outside of Europe but also to each other.

Why did you select Euromight as the name for your site?

I wanted to convey two ideas: one, the European connection. The other one was “might,” which I thought dealt with two things: the power and also the possibility of the collective.

I think it’s only now beginning to dawn on us that we can talk to each other. If the European Union, as a whole, talks to each other with all these differences, all these languages, why shouldn’t we? There are often commonalities that we face, oppression, being on the bottom of the social pile — I mean things that we face en masse, similar to what black people in America face. We’re beginning to understand.