How To Deal With Racism As A Black Woman Traveling Abroad
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When you’re going on a trip, it’s important to be prepared. What’s the weather like where you’re going? How much money do you need? Do you have the right currency? Unfortunately, black women have to ask one more question: Will the people there be racist?
There’s nothing worse than having a stranger’s stares or rude comments drag you back to earth when you’re trying to explore a new country.
Unfortunately, the sad reality is that Africans and African-Americans are considered “exotic” in many parts of the world. Sometimes this is a good thing, but sometimes it can be very, very draining.
So what do you do when you encounter racism abroad?
Use Backup Apps To Prepare For The Worst
Be prepared for worst-case scenarios. I know that’s the last thing you want to consider when you’re excited about a new trip, but it’s necessary.
If you’re having trouble getting an Uber, get Moovn, which is designed for people of color.
Check out these black-owned travel businesses that will make your life easier abroad. These businesses guarantee that you’ll find at least one place free from prejudice.
No, segregation is never ideal, and you should always try to interact with local businesses first – stay at a hostel owned by a local, for example, or take public transportation. But when worst comes to worst, it’s great to have a backup.
Know That Gawking Doesn’t Always Equal Hate
In the U.S., if a white person stares at you, they might be looking for a fight. In China, if someone stares at you, it’s usually in awe. Even in major Asian cities, people of color are extremely rare, so be prepared for a lot of photos and to be treated as a celebrity at some bars and restaurants.
There’s a fine line, of course. You don’t want to be petted like an animal in a zoo. But after you accept that their actions are motivated by curiosity, not malice, then it becomes easier to interact with locals on a one-to-one level.
Heads up: You will get called “Beyoncé” more than once.
Put Your Safety First
As a woman, you have to take a thousand precautions when traveling abroad. As a woman of color, you have to take ten thousand precautions, especially when you’re in a brand new area.
When possible, travel with a group of other black women so that you can look out for each other.
Carry pepper spray. Learn the emergency phone number of the country that you’re in and pre-dial it whenever you go out late at night.
Make an emergency contact in each city you’re in, even if it’s just the hostel owner.
If someone yells racist slurs at you, do not engage, especially if you’re alone.
Read Up On Other Black Women’s Experiences
Before going to a country, read the blogs of other black women who have been there to get an inkling of what’s in store. Plus, the travel blogs of amazing, creative black women are so interesting that you should read them even when you’re not traveling!
Read The Blog Abroad to follow the adventures of a black woman who quit her job to become a full-time explorer.
BrownGirlsFly promises a “melanin-infused perspective on travel.”
Oneika the Traveler always asks, “Where’s next?”
And, of course, read the That Sister travel section.