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However, there is also a surprising history of black diaspora communities choosing to settle in Eastern European countries.
In the 1920s and 30s, the Soviet Union was considered a safe haven for African-Americans escaping segregation in the USA.
However, in the depths of the La Harenda on Warsaw’s Oxford street, that subculture feels somehow lost on the flurry of Polish teens, kitted out in hooped earrings and Xpressions braid extensions, competing for the title of local Dancehall Queen.
It also becomes apparent that the majority cultural exchanges taking place in venues like these happen to be between Black men and Polish women, black female migrants are almost non-existent in Poland.
Thanks to endorsements from Red Bull, as well as dance workshops run by the likes of Ula Fryc and Michalina Rudek, Dancehall and Afrobeats have recently gained traction alongside the more established Polish hip-hop scene.If I’m teaching a step like Malewa from the Congo, I always tell people where it comes from.Lots of People don’t think I should do this because I’m white. Nobody can talk to me about colonists because my country was occupied for 123 years and we’ve only had freedom since 1989”.Despite the obvious undercurrents of hostility and xenophobia, it was refreshing to meet some many people from different ends of the cultural and social spectrum engaging with African culture and attempting to cultivate, in their own way, a different image of Poland that is more inclusive and hybrid.However, James still believes they have a long way to go before minorities can truly feel part of Polish society: “Breaking down barriers is a double-edged sword.
When they built a new mosque in Warsaw, this lady threw a pig’s head in there, it was terrible”.