Lisbon Stories: My Best Experience Yet!

It wasn't what I expected, but it was what I needed.

You probably know my life’s work is about sexual & reproductive health and interpersonal relationships. Did you know there’s a connection to migration? Women bear the brunt pain related to moving (or being moved) from one place to another. Separation of children. Sexual violence in refugee camps. Oppression of gender and sexual minorities. And more.

This is why my firm, FUNKY BROWN CHICK, has partnered with several immigrant justice organizations. We partner with our clients to educate and advocate for fairness. In addition to the professional connection, on a personal note — having previously lived outside the U.S. for years — I’ve seen firsthand how differently people may be treated based on their immigration status.

Speaking of migration, as you may know, right now (through December 18) I’m an American living in Portugal. I genuinely love it here. Lisbon is beautiful! Subscribers to the paid version of the Tiny, Private love letter already know why I came to this lovely country. They’ve also read private departure and arrival stories. Now, here’s a story for everyone …

While in Lisbon, I’ve been honored and pleased I had the opportunity to meet historian & storyteller Naky Gaglo. Born in Togo, he’s creator of the African Lisbon Tour & he has been living in Portugal for the past seven years. Last Saturday, I took his tour.

My fellow participants included approximately 25+ folks from the US, England, and elsewhere. (Psst! If you’d like to hear my fake British accent, you can listen to it here.)

What started off as a half-day walk through central Lisbon to “learn how African culture, food, and music have been a part of Lisbon for centuries,” turned into an expected 24-hour celebration! After the tour, our group grabbed dinner, then drinks, then dancing.

I tapped out “early” around 2:00 am. Rumor has it the party continued past 6:00 a.m.

See more pics on Instagram.

Though we hailed from so many countries, most of the participants came from the U.S. White and Black, we are the descendants of enslaved and enslaving persons. It felt refreshing to talk about that openly and honestly. How could we not? We were in a city with a street called Rua do Poço dos Negros.

Translation: It’s a mass grave site.

Nearly 500 years ago, the King ordered people to dig a pit & throw heaps of stolen black bodies inside of it. Now, the site is covered with pavement.

Rua do Poço dos Negros.

Street of the pit of black folks.

Today, folks who look like people who dug the pit, and people inside of it, descended on Portugal as free, equal humans — with shared humanity, shared history. We walked. Broke bread together. We laughed. Some of us talked about actually moving to Portugal. I certainly love the warm weather, rich culture, delicious food, and friendly people. (Seriously, this place is great; a couple on the tour with Portuguese heritage already bought property!)

We’re more than our ancestors could imagine. I can’t speak for everyone else, but while I was on the tour connecting with everyone, I genuinely felt hope for our future.

Love. Always.

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