Myanmar Living

Traveling While Black

Being on the darker end of the skin colour spectrum has great perks…first of all I’ll look twenty-something til I’m forty-something. But there’s also that whole, folks wanna treat us less than drama, no big deal, racism doesn’t exist anymore, etc. etc.

I’ve watched my share of YouTube videos of other black women that have shared their experiences while traveling abroad and they’ve shared both the horror stories and the praises of looking like Beyoncé (the one black person they recognize on tv). To me it’s an interesting experience.

Mostly people stare. And they stare hella hard and hella long. Like granny was breaking her neck staring at me in the food store. A guy in the line whispered to his wife something about me but like to not make it obvious. She totally missed the mark and I laughed to myself. People look at you as though you have three heads and I just smile back politely. An Indian grandpa nodded and smiled at me the way I assume they do when they’re proud of you. I dunno. I smiled back.

I’ve smiled at the few black women I’ve seen around here and attempted to give the nod. FYI, the nod is the universal black person code for, we outchea and I see you brother/sister. In college I tried the nod but most of em didn’t acknowledge. I guess because there was just enough chocolate faces (as Marley would say) that they don’t feel like they need to hail all of us.

I’m used to being different. The only black person or person of color in many spaces. But I am not alone. I don’t let it bother me. I do wish that from time to time I could talk about a hairstyle without explaining the intricacies of it all.

I tell my students that you have a choice in everything. You can choose a university where everyone looks kinda like you and that’s fine. You can also choose to step out of your comfort zone and go where no one looks like you or find a happy medium. But don’t let one aspect of your existence dictate your entire path. I know I didn’t and look where it led me.

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