I have heard of
white people Americans not really knowing how to act when they see a black traveler, but have had the pleasure to not have any of those interactions occur in my life. Until now. In my travels outside of the great US of A, I have had such experiences and can relate. It is understandable the reactions I elicit from these people, I am probably the first black person they have ever seen in person. Although my President is black and often on TV, they seem to believe, they are 0.0% blacks living in the States. Thus their fascination, curiosity and inappropriate behavior towards me. Hopefully this blog post helps rectify some of that:
1. Do not stare.
I know, I know, my chocolatey goodness is stunning and my flawless melanin deserves a round of applause. Still, you do not need to practically detach your jaw in my presence. Have some couth about yourself. Be a little more inconspicuous. I know you know black people exist, you just need a little reminder. So here I am. And while you may think I should be flattered by your acknowledgment of my presence, I am not. I do not appreciate being stared at like
I am the last Chipotle bowl, I am a unicorn, I am an alien, like I am a figment of your imagination. I am not. I’m just a little bit more sun-kissed than you are. ‘Tis all. Nobody be alarmed.
2. Do not tell me where I am from.
I have been living in this body 22 years, I think I would know if I have ever graced the continent of Africa. I have not. I would also know if I was in relation to some Latin American country, but I am not. I merely have learned to speak Spanish. Please do not argue with me on that fact. I am proud to be black and American. Your ignorance can’t take that from me.
3. DO NOT TOUCH A BLACK TRAVELER.
Most people are taught I was taught around the age of 5 to keep my hands to myself. I thought most people were, but in case you weren’t, let me reiterate: DO. NOT. TOUCH. ME. I know my skin is similar to dirt, I knew that. You ain’t gotta dirt to skin comparison for me to have that knowledge. I know my hair is defying gravity. I know it is curling something fierce and I know it is nothing you have ever seen before. That does not give you the right to invade my personal space ESPECIALLY considering I don’t know you. I don’t know where your hands have been. How would you feel if I just rammed my hands into your scalp without permission? I am telling you now, if you want my friendship, you will keep your hands to yourself or politely ask first.
4. Do not refer to me as “Black Girl”.
I have done a small study, where I response “hey ugly” to every person that says “hey brown girl” and the results are in: Drum roll please.
They don’t really like it.
I personally think it really drove home my point though. My name isn’t Brown or Black Girl and yours isn’t Ugly. If you do a better job about observations and assumptions, I’ll make an effort too. When you see a woman or a man, try hard to see past their skin color. I am just a woman, trying to see the world. Do not call me a Morena or Negrita, you might as well just call me a Nigger.
5. Do not tell me who I am.
Allow me the pleasure of telling you who I am, where I come from, why I am here. Do not assume. I am not rich just because I am from the states. I am not related to the Obamas, Michael Jordan or know either of them personally. I don’t just eat Hamburgers and fries. I actually don’t like Coca-Cola and yes, it is a pleasure to meet you.
This is how you treat a
black traveler. This is how you avoid offending someone and this is an article you should share. You’re welcome.