Weeks ago, I sat through movie previews in Paris—my adopted city since 2004—waiting patiently on Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris.” A trailer for another film called “Case Départ” ran for a full minute before I realized what I was watching: a comedy about slavery. Two French Cameroonians were transported to transatlantic slavery time, fighting their way back to the present while shucking and jiving on a plantation. The crowd around me (black and white) was cracking up. The moment made me happy to be leaving France this summer, moving back to my native America for the first time in seven years.
Since the early ’00s of the Iraq War and the reelection of Bush II, I fielded lots of questions about my move abroad, but mostly people immediately understood. As a young author at the time, I had my own personal James Baldwin fantasies to live out. The bleak post-9/11 climate of New York City caused plenty of exoduses then—still, most people stuck to this side of the ocean.