Don’t turn an eye and ear too quick..
At first glance, the title of this article may insight a reader to prepare for a sob story of a black person being discriminated against everywhere they go on the earth…..boo hoo…such a tough life for a black person..
I’ve seen the comments posted after Youtube videos displaying the pure disgust and annoyance with such titles, assuming that we “African-Americans” have been trained to claim racism every time an issue arises involving unfair treatment.
You don’t have to guess any longer. This article will not be about that.
However, I always say until you have walked in our shoes, then you won’t comprehend our story..
For so called “African-Americans” across the globe, this title is like a code for us.
Because of the constant disrespect and abuse against the African diaspora in the U.S. and other places..(which can not be disputed or denied)..when we as African-Americans travel abroad, our duty to others still at home is to SHARE our experience to enlighten those who have a desire to travel abroad as well.
It’s our language…in the same way every other culture has their own language towards each other.
And rightfully so! It’s human nature. I wouldn’t expect any different from anyone else.
So when you see this repetitive title spread across article headlines on the web..
Know that it in no way says “Look at me! I’m black and I travel.” Furthermore, it doesn’t say “Feel pity on me, because I’m a victim of discrimination,” because we have all in some way been discriminated against..be it skin hue, gender, sexual preference, religious preference, etc.
SO now that explanation is out of the way..if you care to know my reflections as a black family living in Colombia feel free to read more!
September 3rd, 2016…My husband and I took a one way flight to Colombia. It has been three months, and we are loving the decision more and more each day…ZERO REGRETS. Since the tourist Visa expires after 90 days, we decided to extend an additional 90 days here! Because our time here has been above amazing….more than we expected before arriving.
You can’t get away from the conversation of Colombia without discussing FARC, Juan Puablo Escobar, and other notable historical events that transpired here. These were some of the main topics that surfaced when researching Colombia before we decided to make the move.
We also read where people were being robbed and murdered! Our family warned us to take precautions and just make sure we are keeping up with the children AT ALL TIMES because of the “high crime” rate here.
Well, I’m sure this does happen here, as murder..drug trafficking. kidnappings..and other unfortunate incidents happen almost EVERYWHERE.
So I will not be discussing what could potentially be happening in a region my family is far from. Instead, I want to share a funny and somewhat enlightening story of living in Colombia and reflect on the beautiful personalities of the Paisas. This is my 3-month reflection, but I will have more to come as we immerse more into the culture.
This video depicts a waitress at Crepes & Waffles taking our son to get an item, I believe it was a toy bird. Forgive me! My recording skills will get better as we document. So many things happen on the spot, and we are ill-prepared to record videos or take pictures.
Top left…although sort of distorted..is two Colombian women playing with our children in the apartment’s playground area. On the far right is our children playing with one of the lady’s son.
Below is a video of the same waitress chatting in Espanol with our son Jeremiah. If you look at the upper portion of the video you will see it better. (Don’t bash me for the terrible recording LOL)
The treatment from the natives of Colombia have been nothing short of PURE LOVE and acceptance. We have not encountered any racist or indifferent attitudes towards our family.
Now, I’m not naïve to the fact that it does exist here. There are definitely areas along the coast, for example Choco, where darker skinned people are treated poorly. But from our encounters as African-Americans and from speaking personally with the Colombians, skin color is not an issue on a mass scale throughout Medellin.
I can say that I am in a better space…peaceful…no worries of my husband not making it home alive because of his skin hue. As the locals say Colombia is “muy tranquila.” The vibe has been overall safe.
Keep in mind that we are in a predominantly Spanish-speaking country. My Spanish is not perfect yet (currently studying to become fluent). But I do understand the language. I can respond using basic Spanish, and communication is understood additionally using body language and hand signs.
So a few weeks ago, we went to the Centro Commercial (Mall) in Sabaneta, Colombia. My daughter had her hair in a high poof ponytail (as shown above).
Of course I’m always looking around constantly aware of my surroundings. What I notice is that everyone is turning their heads in amazement and smiling. And they’re saying “Que bonita!”, “Hermosa”..etc. And I’m saying “Gracias” and smiling back.
We went inside of a shoe store. While Amariah, my four year old daughter, is dancing in the mirror, the store clerk asked to take a picture with her.
She asked questions about my daughter’s red hair in Spanish and I responded the best way I could. Another South American native in the Exito supermarket asked what did I use in her hair because her son has the same hair texture. And she took her fingers and brushed across her skin to let me know that he is similar to our color. INTERESTING RIGHT?!!
So then we reach a clothing store. As I’m browsing I saw the retail lady staring at Amariah and she has the same reaction as everyone else! I really can’t describe the emotions displayed by everyone. I would have to record a video next time so that you can see visually what I experienced.
But she took out her phone and took a picture of Amariah. And I let her know that it was okay. As we’re checking out she touched her hair and asked if it was “animales”. LOL 😂😂😂 In slang terms she was asking if it was horse hair like weave. And I told her no it’s “naturales.” I allowed her to touch my daughter’s hair down to the scalp so she could verify. She then took her hands and spread her eyes and asked out of pure innocence if my daughter was Japanese.
This has not been the first time we’ve been asked this question since being here. And all of my life I have been asked this question….What are you? But it never dawned on me until I got to Colombia and received this question from a culture other than my own; one in which I ignorantly assumed knew more about us than I knew about us.
But I’m sharing this from a deep place. This may not resonate with all, but to whom it does resonate with I’ve accomplished my goal. I want to say this to my so called “African-Americans” living in North America. We have got to step outside of this box and journey the earth so that others can feel our spirit. We are not delegated to one place. We can’t keep letting fear and propaganda keep us from connecting. It is your choice! IF you’re unhappy with the circumstances surrounding your living environment, YOU can change that. It is ultimately US who will make the difference.
See for yourself how beautiful it is in Colombia. Here is a video from Cartagena, Colombia outside of the hotel we resided in during our vacation.
For the record, I do not advocate for anyone to jump up and make major moves without doing the proper research FOR YOURSELF to see what suits your needs. This is only an article to share my truth and for encouragement to those like me who love to explore other possibilities!
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