5 Outrageous Things That Have Happened To Me As a Black Traveler As featured on Matador Network. . . ‘
Traveling abroad can be quite interesting when you’re a black, woman of color. Sometimes it’s frustrating and annoying. Other times it’s funny and entertaining. And every time, a point should be made to make interaction educational. But still, crazy things can happen. These are 5 outrageous things that have happened to me as a black traveler.
1. Touching my natural hair.
Depending on my mood, I rock various hairstyles when I travel. My favorite style is wearing my hair big, kinky, and curly. Depending on how long I travel, I may even wear braids or faux locs. Spending some time in Thailand, I was negotiating on a few items in a night market when I felt someone’s fingers patting my hair. One of the patrons in the market was so intrigued by my faux locs that she could not help herself and wanted to feel my hair for herself!
2. Sneaking photos of me.
This happened to me a ton in China. Typically, when I was enjoying some of the tourist’s sites like the Forbidden City or the Great Wall of China, many of the locals would follow me around and either sneak pictures of me or try to hide in my pictures with me. To combat this, when they would take photos of me, I would take photos of them taking photos of me!
3. Rubbing my skin.
The first time I went to China, I stayed with a host family in a small town outside of Chengdu. As the family hadn’t been exposed to many foreigners, I knew this would be an “authentic” experience. One evening, I was walking in a produce market with my host family when an older woman with no teeth came up to me smiling. She grabbed my arm and began rubbing it up and down, speaking in Mandarin with a smile full of gums. When my host family translated it to me, they said that the older woman thought that my skin was very soft and beautiful, but she was confident that my brown color would rub off!
4. Touching (and talking about) my butt.
No doubt, I’m a curvy woman. While this is certainly a gift, it can be a challenge when you’re shopping for clothes overseas. It was “laundry day” for me, and I had no more bottoms, so I opted for a pair of those cute tribal-patterned pants from the market that cost about $2.13. Needless to say, they were pretty snug. In the same market, a group of teenage girls was staring at me and pointing. Finally, one of them walked up to me, looked at my bum and asked, “Excuse me, sister. Is that (butt) yours?”
5. Asking if I wear sunscreen.
I get asked this question quite often when I travel. Surprisingly enough, just like anyone else, I have to take care of my skin from harmful rays. So let me dispel the myth once and for all, and say that, yes, I use sunscreen every day!
What are some of the “outrageous” things that have happened to you during your travels?
Talk to me!
Is that butt yours?? Well I mean its attached to these thighs….who else’s would it be ?!? lolThen again with the whole injections crazy I guess you can’t be too sure nowadays… even still, that’s no one else’s business! lol
Haha!I just look at it as genuine curiosity versus being evasive!
At least that is what I hope!
Honestly staring is something I HATE. I know it might not be seen as rude in other cultures but to me it will always be extremely impolite, I need to take on your positive attitude! You’re right, it’s probably just coming from a place of curiosity but it’s still really uncomfortable lol.
It’ definitely annoying, but that is because in our society staring is rude!In order to control my annoyance, I just chalk it up to cultural differences!
Whoa! “Excuse me sister. Is that (butt) yours?” That is pretty amazing. This is why I say travelling is a part of education. It works both ways. 🙂
Girl this is off the chain!!! It’s making me want to go to those places just to see how they react. Is that crazy or not that they have never seen black people?!!?!
Honestly.. many have not!That’s why I encourage “us” to travel more!
Interesting. My sister and I were in Beijing a couple years back and the same thing happened at the Summer Palace, Forbidden City and the Great Wall. People randomly taking pics, some woman rubbing my sister’s skin thinking that it would rub off. Crazy! I’m 6’3” and my sister is a 6 ft black woman with big, curly, natural hair. Imagine the commotion! Lol.
I’m headed to Thailand in May and I’m really interested to see what type of things I run into!
China is probably one of the most interesting countries!You will enjoy Thailand. I rarely had any of those experiences there!
Lots of curious conversations but I think the Thais in general are more ‘chill’ and unbothered. LOL!
Whoa! Kudos to you for handling the situations well. I am so glad you included the sunscreen, I get asked that all the time by Americans and fellow POCs.
It can be tough but you develop some thick skin QUICK!
Your experiences sound amazing. But I am curious to know if you are afraid of getting lost or fear of getting kidnapped?
Oh gosh no!ATL is the #1 sex trafficking city in the USA.
I’d be more nervous in my own backyard than other places.
And getting lost? Not really… its apart of the adventure!
Besides.. in rough situations I just use Google Maps!
Hi! Vanessa from Baton Rouge from the Periscope today. I’m binge reading your posts and this one struck me. My first international trip was just this past August to Finland. A friend from undergrad was living there. Three months earlier they were in Louisiana. They invited me and finally having disposable income, I went. It is a beautiful country, but also the whitest country in the world. If clorox was a country, it’d be Finland. Everyone stared. I’m also 5’10” so that didn’t help.
I just thought about my time swimming competitively in high school. Only black person. I just wandered where I wanted (Finland apparently is the second safest country in the world) and decided I was going to make the most out of it. Hopefully, I’ll be able to go back in May and also visit Norway. Oooh Norwegian men!!! That was my layover. ? Lol!
I am headed to Iceland in April! I’m soooooo excited!Should be interesting.
Definitely will add Finland and Norway on the list!
I loved Finland! I was in Turku, on the southwest corner in August. The weather was perfect and there are lots of beaches. I’m going to brace myself and try to go in the winter to rent an igloo at the Kakslauttanen Igloo Village.
I’ll praying for you! But sounds like an AMAZING experience!!Keep me posted!