The Not So Fun Side of Being a Black Woman Traveling Alone
By Nicole Brewer
Greetings globetrotters. I hope you all are safe and sound where ever you may be around the world at this time. It has indeed been surreal living abroad during a pandemic and seeing the civil unrest unfolding back home in the USA at this time.
One thing that I have been reflecting on is how blessed I have been to travel to close to 50 countries in the past decade or so of living abroad. While many of those experiences have been absolutely fantastic, I would be remiss to act as if it’s been all peaches and cream traveling alone to so many places solo as a Black woman.
I felt compelled to share with you all some of the not so joyous experiences I’ve had. I’m very hopeful that the current unrest, protest, and marches that are taking place around the globe will bring about much- needed change when it comes to racism. Please stay blessed, safe, healthy, and educated globetrotters.
Ex. 1 – No, I’m Not a Prostitute
Yes, it may come as a surprise to some, but many Black women who have traveled solo have been wrongly accused of being a prostitute while globetrotting. I’ve been catcalled even in my own home country the USA, but the micro-
Ex. 2- Yes, I
Sigh, yes, it happens entirely too much. I’ll never forget that one time being in the immigration line trying to enter Seychelles and being given the third degree by security. Traveling solo as a Black woman to some luxurious places has surely come with its setbacks. It can be shocking to even locals that I would be traveling to a 5-star resort without being accompanied by someone…or was I going there to “work”. These are questions that arise as a Black woman traveling solo.
Ex. 3- Sharing a Hostel Room with Racists in Germany
I had so many great memories of living abroad and studying in Germany when I did my MA in Humanitarian Aid, that I almost blocked out this horrendous memory. Talk about an uncomfortable feeling of being in a hostel room in Dusseldorf and having a German couple walk in and give you one of the evilest looks you’ve ever experienced. The boyfriend even had a Swastika on his jacket. They were too scared to actually say mean things to my face, but they would look at me, chuckle and mumble things under their breath. Needless to say, I didn’t get any sleep that night knowing that hate was so close to me in proximity.
Ex. 4- No, these Ajummas (Korean Grandmothers) Do Not Want to Sit Next to Me on the Bus
South Korea is a place I adored overall in the 3.5 years of my experience of living there as an ESL teacher. Nevertheless, it was not a utopia either. There have been several occasions where I can recall older Koreans not wanting to sit near me or next to me on the bus. The funny thing about it though, when I look back on this sort of racism I experienced during my time traveling and living abroad, is that I actually built the toughest skin during this time. Yes, show me who you are outright, instead of smiling in my face and talking about me behind my back.
I’m sure if I wrecked my brain a bit more, I could come up with a laundry list of more examples. Nevertheless, I think you all get the idea of what it can be like moving about this world as a Black woman. It can be pretty exhausting, yet still I rise and keep pushing because that’s how much I love to globe trot. I have way more beautiful memories than not of traveling, which truly bring me joy.
However, I do want our readers to recognize their privilege. To take the time to not only recognize it but to educate themselves on ways to give a helping hand when they can to elevate the voices of Black people. I hope that globetrotters around the world are inspired and taking strives to be the change that they want to see in the world.
2020 really is the year of clear vision. See our race, recognize it. Don’t state you don’t see it. We want to be seen. We need to be seen. Continue staying safe globetrotters!