I understand that in today’s world, if a person, including a black one, is strongly compelled to travel to a particular country, the only thing that is likely to stop him or her is outright denial of entry. Or, to put it another way, racism really isn’t a factor that most of us consider while traveling. If a place looks intriguing to a tourist or if it has been concluded that a better living could be made than in the homeland of an emigrant, he or she is free to make an effort to travel to their preferred destination.
However, there are certain countries where a black traveler may want to think twice before visiting. This isn’t about being discouraged from pursuing one’s travel hopes or migration dreams. Rather, depending on the part of the world you’re coming from, a person of African descent may not be prepared or willing to witness what the black race may be commonly subjected to in particular localities. So ultimately, this study is subjective. In other words, as a black traveler, you may be more willing to contend with one issue on this list than another.
A good example of what I mean concerning the above statement is what many Black travelers go through in Southeast Asia. Places like China, for instance, are known for being the bomb as far as tourism goes. But actually residing in the Red Dragon as a Blackman can prove a different experience.
Also, it is not particularly common to come across Black people in this part of the world in general. So, for example, Singapore is another very-attractive East Asian travel destination. But people there aren’t accustomed to Black folk. So as one therein, you would undoubtedly and perpetually be subjected to a whole lot of attention, which none of us want all of the time.
Put more bluntly, the amount of looks you attract as a Black person inside nations like China and Singapore can and likely will make you uncomfortable sometimes, even if you are the gregarious type. And again, that may not be a holistically viable reason to quench your desire to travel to these countries. But it is still something to keep in mind nonetheless, that all eyes will be on you, all the time.
The United States
It may appear strange to see the United States on this list—a country that has a sizable population of Blacks who have been residing therein for centuries and have significantly contributed to America becoming the greatest nation on Earth. Also, the US did recently have a Black president in Barack Obama, and it has long been considered the leading nation as far as civil rights reforms are concerned.
However, this is also a country where institutionalized racism has long been practiced. And that includes one of the most extreme forms of all, race-based slavery, which in the grand scheme of things didn’t end that long ago. So racial profiling and other less-blatant forms of racism are still very much intact in the US, even in areas with large Black populations. Aside from that, we also regularly come across stories of Blacks actually losing their lives due to racial prejudice.
Additionally, Black-on-Black violence is common in some parts of the country. That’s a phenomenon that, say, travelers from certain parts of Africa may be completely unfamiliar with the prospect of being singled out and violently mugged based solely on the fact that you’re a foreigner. And if a gang of African-American thieves spots an African who appears as if he can be easily victimized, they’re not likely to be deterred because of similarities in race.
Spain is the closest European country to the African mainland. In fact, the southern tip of Spain is separated from Morocco by only eight miles. Meanwhile, African migration has been intensifying in recent times, with one of the top preferred destinations being Europe.
Truth be told, many of the Africans who do make that trek do so unofficially, convinced that life in Europe is exponentially better than it is in the Motherland. So those who do manage to make it to their destination often face hardships there. And relatedly, many Europeans go on to develop a less-than-favorable view of Black people in general. So such attitudes, on top of the general racism that already exists, should be kept in mind by Blacks who visit such localities.
The northern part of Spain has been singled out in this regard, as the country deals with a large number of the aforementioned migrants.
Italy is another European country that extends out into the Mediterranean and, as such, has been dealing with an influx of illegal African immigrants. Therefore, the same types of racial issues highlighted above are also present there.
Another thing African-Americans in particular should know about such localities, including other countries not on this list but with a significant number of African migrants, is perhaps seeing Black workers going through the type of work-related struggles that have become outdated stateside. Yes, that can be counted as a form of racism. But it is also attributable to the fact that many Africans, to put it bluntly, feel the need to visit foreign countries in the name of economic progress and oftentimes, in the process, make themselves vulnerable to such exploitation and hardship. This may be especially true for illegal immigrants, but it also, as in some parts of the Middle East for instance, may apply to official migrant workers as well.
Statistics vary as to how many Black people actually live in Brazil. What is known is that this country is home to the highest percentage of people of African descent outside of the Motherland. And some studies put the number as high as over half of Brazil’s population, i.e., 100,000,000+ Brazilians being Black or having some percentage of African blood (in fact, according to the people themselves). That would basically mean that there are more Black people in Brazil than in the overwhelming majority of African countries. Indeed, even if you accept the official number of roughly 15,000,000 “pretos,” i.e., visibly Black Brazilians, as of 2010, that is still a higher total than about half of African countries’ respective populations.
Now ask yourself this question. When you see depictions of Brazil via the mainstream media, how many Black people do you see? Was there ever a prominent Black Brazilian politician? What about musicians, for example? The late Pelé, who was visibly Black, was a force that could not be denied, and he stands as the most-famous Black Brazilian ever. But can you name even one other Black person from this country which hosts such a large percentage of Blacks in general?
The Racism is still very much Alive!
Brazil didn’t get around to abolishing slavery until 1888, even though at the time (also) there were more Blacks living there than non-Blacks. Brazil has had at least one revolution since, but for the most part, the same racist power structure has remained in place. And again, you can notice this just by looking at the politicians or googling famous Brazilians.
So there is racism present in the country, or perhaps what can be better defined as colorism, since so much of the population has African blood anyway. Yet the country is known for being a tropical paradise, made more colorful due to its African people. So you won’t stand out as a Black person as much as you would in some other parts of the world. But there is a good possibility that you will come face-to-face with the type of de facto yet very-noticeable institutionalized racism that doesn’t really exist in sub-Saharan Africa and is more or less on its way out in the United States.
Black people from various parts of the world may have their distinct differences, but when it comes to traveling, we’re all in this together, in a manner of speaking. A Black person may be treated differently depending on which country he or she is coming from. But unfortunately, racism is a global phenomenon. And in some remote parts of the globe where it may not be too pronounced, you’re likely going to have to deal with sticking out like a sore thumb due to your skin color. And even if a Black outsider were to visit the Motherland itself, there may not be racism as you traditionally define it, but you will likely notice foreigners being afforded preferential treatment.
This is the reality of being a Black traveler in the modern world. At the end of the day, racism is not going to stop anybody from at least trying to get where they feel they need to go. But if your main goal is to have a pleasurable travel experience, then as a Black person you need to be cognizant of what your skin color generally entails based on a foreign locality. Or else you may find yourself in a situation, like some of those alluded to above, that you would have rather avoided.