One evening a couple months back, I decided to treat myself to a little happy hour cocktail (or two lol). The bartender (let’s call her Mona), the man sitting next to me (let’s call him Andre), and myself ended up engaging in a little happy hour chit chat. Mona, I believe is from Sierra Leone, and Andre and myself are both African-Americans. For the sake of this current post, I am defining African-American as descendants of enslaved Africans who were brought to the United States. Andre begins to speak on his irritation with African cab drivers who come to America but refuse to pick up black people. Not going to lie, his points were mid key on the ignorant side but that’s not the topic for today. Mona feeling some type of way and rightfully so says “well African-Americans don’t travel outside of the US.” SKURRRRRRT!! Ma’am.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time I have heard an ignorant and false statement such as this. I’ve heard the phrase “black people don’t travel” before on more than one occasion. When and where specifically, I can’t quite recall. First, let me start by saying that I need folks who are not African-American to stop telling us what we do and don’t do. Y’all do not define us, we do. Next, just because you are unaware of occurrence of something, does not mean that it does not exist. In this case, because Mona has been living under a rock in which she either doesn’t see or know African-Americans who travel all over of the world, she felt that we didn’t. Girl, bye.
I don’t think Mona meant any harm in her statement. Maybe, none of the African-Americans she knows travel abroad. She has clearly never heard of Travel Noire, Nomadness, and numerous other travel groups that are comprised of African-Americans. I also don’t understand where she even came from with that statement because it had nothing to do with Andre’s rant on cab drivers. How she looped in that jab at us is still lost on me. My issue with what she said comes back to people putting African-Americans down and making us seem less than. Additionally, it comes down to people speaking on things of which they know nothing about. Has she checked the passports of every African-American? Oh wait, I guess we don’t have passports cause we don’t go anywhere that needs one.
Despite the ignorance, I am grateful for the dialogue that day for numerous reasons. It reminded me of the disconnect that is present between all members of the diaspora. This is one of the main reasons I started this blog. I was glad that Mona could see Andre and I shared different opinions (re: cab drivers) so that she would not continue to loop all African-Americans together and generalize. I was also happy to let Mona know that her opinion was wrong and educate her to the fact African-Americans do travel abroad, all of the time.