When Donald Trump was elected president in 2016, Audrey Edwards joined the thousands of Americans who packed their bags to seek solace in other countries.
In her self-published memoir, American Runaway: Black and Free in Paris in the Trump Years, Edwards, a Brooklyn journalist and realtor, tells tales of her adventures during her four years living in Paris and the long history between the French and Black Americans.
Edwards chose to move to Paris from Brooklyn in large part because of the number of Black American ex-pats in the country. She said there was a long history of Black Americans moving to Paris due to racism and civil unrest in America.
“Paris is probably the largest Black-American ex-pat community in Europe,” Edwards said. “I don’t even think London — an English-speaking country — has that many Black Americans. And I know a lot of people don’t like the French. But what I like the most about them is that they leave me alone.”
Edwards says she appreciates the lack of focus on race in France and feeling safe in a country that doesn’t allow guns on the streets. There was much to love about Brooklyn, but she didn’t miss the aggressive atmosphere of America, where the gun culture reigned supreme, she said.
Edwards’ book on her time in Paris is not her first. In 2014, she penned the biography for the founder of Essence — Edward Lewis — which this year is being made into a mini-series on HBO Max, focusing on the early years of the legendary magazine.
“He had a great story to tell about these four Black guys who started a magazine for Black women 50 years ago and all the drama surrounding it,” she said, adding that as a startup, the team had to solve issues around advertising, raising money and dealing with different personalities.
While Edwards is excited to see the project take on a different medium, she won’t be involved in the HBO Max project, saying the film just isn’t her genre.
As a journalist, Edwards relishes the value of print and lamented the loss of magazines and newspapers, including a newsstand in Brooklyn that shut down years ago.
Despite living in Paris for the past several years, Edwards still has her Brooklyn apartment and has been based in the city during the past year due to COVID-19 restrictions.
She said Brooklyn was still her home base, but Paris had become a second home. She plans to go back soon, and even encourages other Americans who are financially able to view life outside of the American lens.
“People should explore greater options in terms of living somewhere else,” Edwards said. “Americans are used to dealing with the immigrants here, but we don’t think in terms of integrating ourselves.”
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