Paris and Paris

“Today I walked the streets of Paris,

the streets where a Giant once roamed.
No, not Hemingway. Not Fitzgerald.
The Giants of the West are small in comparison.

Today I walked the streets of Paris,

where the Giant Frantz Fanon once roamed.”

As I walked the streets of Paris with my friends, I could not help but come to realize that the city is two in one. I love Hemingway, the Fitzgeralds, Boyle, the ‘Lost Generation” that dwelled in the city of lights and wrote their masterpieces. When I walked through the legendary “Shakespeare and Company” bookstore, I came across a portrait of the great James Baldwin, who also dwelled in Paris for much of his life.

As I saw the face of Baldwin, I could not help but think of how radically different his life, as a writer and person, was to those of Hemingway and his friends.

I walked through the bookstore, reveling as I could among the halls of S&Co, finding notes from writers, feeling spines, and wondering what stories have yet to be written there. Then I found Fanon’s “Wretched of the Earth”. Fanon’s words echoed in the hollows of forgotten things, where he uttered truth and was birthed (a second time) through the gaze of the West. Paris was Paris depending on the color of ones skin. Few care for the brilliance of mind or heart when looking into your eyes. 

I walked in the streets of Paris. But there is not only one in the heart of the colonizer, in the heart of French Imperialism. One for Hemingway. One for Baldwin. And I, being who I was, possessing the skin I do, could only truly see one of them. 

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