This is such a good essay that I don't really know how to start with it. The French say "One must draw back to better jump" and TNC has drawn back, all the way to Paris, to better grasp what it is to be human, to take up the burden of being self aware in multiple dimensions, to be fundamentally shaped by a life as a black man in America, and also a citizen of the world, a man inhabiting and owning the entire history of human endeavour and consciousness because of his love for history and the written word. He can't escape race and racism, because of course that is a constituent part of European life as well as our own. On the other hand lots of situations strike him as strange, lots of interactions are weird or make him feel conspicuous, are they because he is black? or because he is American? Because he said the wrong word entering a restaurant because he is not yet fluent in French? Or because his French accent marks him as American and not African? The entire essay is really worth reading.
Paul Robeson in Paris.