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!
If you enjoyed this story press the like button and follow my blog via email or WordPress account for updates on our adventure traveling around the world! Leave your comments! Also follow my Facebook page to send a personal message with any questions you may have. 💗💗💗💗💗💗
8 Comments Add yours
No doubt. From a males perspective. I have been in Australia for ten years and have had a very similar experience. It’s a really laid back chill place, with great beaches and a great island vibe. I would add that most differences between people from other countries are more on the lines of culture differences or nationality differences than racial issues. Just watching the daily news from another country starts to give you an idea of how connected the rest of the world is and has to be and how isolated America is and the thought process there has become. The bottom line is that when you are abroad you get treated more like an American first and a black person second, maybe even third. And the black they think you are or compare you to is usually along the lines of someone like Kobe, Jordan, Tiger Woods, Will Smith, Jay-Z or any other famous black guy. Instead of more times than not treating you like the guy they think might try to steal their purse or their car, they saw from the late night news channel that drums that stuff into their tiny little brains. As a matter of fact, as a black male, I have yet to get onto an elevator where a woman sees me and their first reaction is to clutch their purse. It’s quite the opposite, they quickly say hello and usually are interested in having a chat with you. Some even go out of their way to talk to you. That was an eye-opening and refreshing experience to say the least. Who knew King’s dream of being treated by the content of your character and not the color of your skin was still alive and well, you just had to leave the States to experience it. Ohhh the irony of it all, but at the end of the day, I’ll tell everyone in the States the same thing a family friend told me when I left. You can always go home if you don’t like it abroad. America isn’t going anywhere.
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Wow! Thank you so much for sharing your experience. You are right the first step is to travel abroad to have your own perspective versus being afraid because of what the media said about a place. And if you don’t like it, return back to America. 👏 Being here in Latin America we always get asked if we’re from San Andres Island.
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I’ve recently been wondering about how living in Australia was. It’s inspiring to know there are people there having good experiences.
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Right on mama. I wonder if there’s a lack of exposure to the community so much that it allows them to be in wonder and awe with a beauty that is unlike the norm they are used to. It’s like your family is a walking 4 leaf clover. People who see you feel lucky. That’s my impression when I travel in the Latin American countries with my blue eyes and blonde hair. My Spanish isn’t fluent but pretty damn good. Enough that my first few words surprise them and they eagerly ask where I was born. Curious and inviting. I love it.
Maybe that’s why I chose to live in a predominantly black community. To show them the opposite of what they are used to. I have to add another stereotype, I live right off of Martin Luther King Blvd. Streets with that name tend to be “rough neighborhoods”. While there may be a lot of police action near me, I’ve never been violated. When I first moved here I had people hollering “oh shit we got a white girl in our hood, what’s up girl?!” I laugh, smile, wave at them and chat if they are open. Or if they ask about my fruit trees and I offer them free fruit they practically shit a brick. Free? Why not, I can’t eat all of that food why waste it. I could profit from it but I don’t believe that is what’s going to make my life or theirs better by doing that. Maybe my purpose was to show the people I encounter that there are people who accept them and don’t judge them because I’m not their color. I’m laughing out loud as I remember the several marriage proposals due to my friendliness. In a way it’s kinda sad that I’m probably the nicest “white girl” they’ve met. And there are times when I’m judged for being in their neighborhood. It’s like they expect me to be a bitch but rather I hold the door for them as they walk up to the same store I shop at. Some say thank you, some walk right passed me and the open door. I still say your welcome because I didn’t have to be nice but I chose to. Mostly the kids are being trained to reject others just as they have been rejected their whole life. This needs to change. The fact that we are talking about it I believe helps plant the seed to a better future. Free fruit=Free love. Planting trees of free love. Wishing everyone a beautiful and blessed journey! Xoxo
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I am in awe! This right here..you have no idea blessed me so much. I needed this. First, THANK YOU for being who you are. You are right, some of us have been educated to a degree to “hate” or be untrusting of someone who has blonde hair and blue eyes. Almost like an agenda has to be in place in order for a Caucasian person to be nice to us. And this teaching is SO far from the truth. (Honest moment) I struggled with this for years, accepting a “white” person as a friend without thinking something is odd because they want to be my friend! I’m so glad that we are having the conversation because we all need each other at this critical time on this earth. There will be no room for hatred because of skin color. WOW. We are living the same purpose. The fact that you made a personal decision to move to a place and be a walking lesson, that says so much about who you are. The Universe moved us both in directions we may have questioned at first, but after heeding the call, we saw with our own eyes the work we were suppose to do. Restoration and LOVE will prevail. We will break down these stereotypes. You are a beautiful spirit. THANK YOU for being the change. 💗💗💗💗💗💗
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Your beautiful, and your words. 💖 I thank you for being the change too! We are here to help the world be a better place to live in by influencing one person at a time. I’m not afraid to speak of my spiritual path when I come across new faces. My favorite moments were pulling over to give a ride to a girl sitting at the bus stop crying. She was driving her boyfriends car to drop him off at an interview but the police pulled them over. Arrested her boyfriend based on suspicion and had the car towed. Because he was black, had corn rows and driving around at 8am on a Sunday was suspicious. The most violent thing he had was a pen to write with. Had to miss his interview, he’s a model, and had to pay to get his car out of the tow yard. The girlfriend is a social worker and didn’t have an address to the tow yard. Instinctually I drove her to a coin laundry to ask if anyone heard of this tow company. They pointed to a spot that was a block away from where we were. I dropped her off and she was so happy that I showed up to help and couldn’t have been more grateful. She said she would have never found this place with what she had. Government authorities are part of the problem as well.
My second favorite story was when a young black man early 20s asked to borrow my phone while I was waiting to get an oil change. I could see he wasn’t getting an answer from his friend who was supposed to pick him up. No money for a bus and would have to walk 10+ miles to get home. I told him that I was going his direction when I was done if he wanted to wait for a ride from me. When we got in the car he apologized like crazy about his smelly shoes. Explaining that they are his only pair and he got stuck in the rain yesterday so his shoes didn’t have time to dry. I felt so bad for him. While talking on the ride I learned his girlfriend was diagnosed with schizophrenia. I explained my viewpoints on why she’s experiencing this on a spiritual bases. What I told him made him feel like I’m the only person who gets him and his situation. I told him where he can go to get free reiki to help him and his girlfriend. We hugged and he left feeling appreciated, loved and validated. I wish I could have done more but I think meeting me adobe could have been a life changer. I have no idea but I do know he was treated with kindness and compassion. I love doing things like that. I feel good. I hope more people could try to do similar things to help out strangers without an agenda. Gotta go for now but love chatting with you! Xoxo
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I’m so glad you are open to sharing your experience and being honest about it! This is what we need now more than ever, to hear it straight from a Caucasian’s perspective. This eliminates confusion and feelings that we are hated on a mass scale. (Spiritual path) I will be scrolling through your posts to read more of your spiritual experience! Definitely not a coincidence we crossed paths because what brought us to Colombia was a spiritual movement. I’ll include another post later detailing this. 💗💗💗💗
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Thanks, I just joined in the last 2 weeks. Hope to have more coming soon!
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