First of all, I have never been the one to pull the race card. Trust me when I tell you I HATE when people pull the race card. But also trust me when I tell you that racism and overt prejudice is very real. I believe that most people are not racist, but are just miserable assholes that are unhappy in their own lives and take it out on others. However, I have been traveling more intensely these past few years and I have definitely had some “traveling while black” moments. Some good & some not so good. With that said, let’s take a moment to thank God for allowing me NOT to get locked up while abroad.
There were two countries that I have been to that seemed to adore and celebrate the fact that I am a Melanin Mami and then there were two that definitely did not make me feel welcomed based on my skin color.
Colombia: I had the time of my life in Cartagena. (Please note that it has been the only city in Colombia that I have been to so far, so I can only share the experience that I had there). I received a lot of stares in Cartagena, especially from women and kids, which was different for me. But the stares seemed to be more of adoration and not of hate. I know this because if I smiled, I received a genuine and warm smile back. There are so many Melanin Mamis and Papis in Cartagena that I completely fit in. I didn’t feel like a tourist or an outcast.
Also, do not think because I was in a country where people looked like me that racism could not happen. I have been to many Latin and Caribbean countries where colorism is very real and I have been scorned because of the color of my skin. That’s a story for another time though.
South Africa: OMG. I have never felt so celebrated than when I went to South Africa. In the airport, the staff were saying “Welcome Home, Queen.”In a country that was so divided once before based on color, it felt good to have people celebrate my dark skin. Obviously there are plenty of non-colored people in South Africa, but I never felt disregarded or judged based on the color of my skin at all.
But since I am about to start getting into a couple bad experiences, can we talk about the white ladies that were part of my tour group that asked me if I ever hated my hair growing up?
They also decided to sit down with me, my sister, and best friend and try to convince us that black Americans should stop complaining about slavery because the black people in South Africa had it much WORSE. I’m sorry I did not know we started judging how bad the enslavement of a group of people was based on a scale of 1-10? Also, did I mention to you guys how I had to constantly thank God that I have not gotten locked up for assault on stupid people while abroad? *Inserts praise break*
Dubai: Sigh…Oh Dubai. A very beautiful place that is literally Vegas on steroids. The thing to do in Dubai on a Friday is brunch and the most poppin’ brunch is at this restaurant in the Atlantis hotel called Saffron. There is unlimited premium food and liquor for a certain amount of hours for a shitload of money. Well me and my friend met a really awesome group of people that we hung out with after our brunch. Well, all of them were awesome except for the one old white guy that was trying to live his youth vicariously through this group of awesome young people. He was drunk and high out of his mind. While in his drunk stupor he decided to go on this rant about how I should use guys for their money and explained to me “the rules to the game.” At the end of his rant it turned out that he thought I was a prostitute that had immigrated from Africa to have sex with rich guys from Dubai. Oh, joy!
Greece: While in Greece, I came to the realization that Greeks are not used to seeing Black tourists. I went to Athens and Santorini when I visited. There were constant stares at me and my family when we went out. These were not the same stares I got in Cartagena. Trust me. These were “What are your type doing here and how did ya’ll get here?” stares. It was to the point where we found a little pizza shop by our Airbnb and the ladies that ran it were so nice that we ate there every single day! We refused to give our money to anyone that felt we did not belong. I did not let it stop my show though. I still was stunting in all my Greece pictures!
What I have learned from #TravelingWhileBlack: When you are the only Melinated Mami in town you shine that much brighter!