It’s true that every mom has to consider so many things when traveling. Cost, activities, weather, and the safety of her family. Black moms have to consider some additional concerns when traveling – how they and their families will be viewed and treated in other countries.
Almost every mom does a search asking “is it safe” for the location she hopes to take her family to. Black moms typically search “is x country racist” or “traveling to x country while Black”. This Black History Month, we’re keeping it real about some of the additional considerations that Black moms have to make when they plan travel for their families:
Will people take pictures of my children without my permission?
It’s incredibly awkward and creepy when strangers take photos of your children without your permission. This happens often in countries where there isn’t a large population of Black people. In some cases, people are genuinely in awe and wonder at seeing a Black person in real life. In some cases, they are being made fun of. It’s often difficult to tell the difference.
In either case, I don’t think any mom would be comfortable with her child being photographed without her permission. A Wandering Mom once posted in the WM FB Group that she and her children were visiting a Zoo in Hong Kong and it turned out that they, not the animals, were the main attraction. She shared that a crow of people had surrounded them and were taking photos and videos of them while they were just trying to enjoy their time at the zoo.
Will people stare at my children and make them feel uncomfortable?
Children can be very self-conscious. Especially in new places. And being stared at can make them feel uncomfortable or even unsafe. As with taking pictures, there are so many countries where either they have never seen Black people. On the other hand, there are many places where Black skin is unwelcome. It’s hard to decipher whether those stares are from a sense of wonder or disdain. In either case, being stared at can be incredibly uncomfortable.
I remember the time recounted I was taking my daughter to her first soccer practice at a stadium in Prague. Prior to arriving, my daughter was so excited about going to practice for a new team. As soon as we entered into the stadium, people were staring at us. I remember we were approaching a group of adults in a circle talking, they all stopped and physically turned their entire bodies to stare at us. Not to say hello or anything…to stare. my daughter immediately became aware that she was the only Black child in that entire stadium and no longer wanted to be there. She began begging me to take her back home. We end up staying and she enjoyed practice but I had to spend a solid 10 minutes calming her down and convincing her that it would all be ok.
Will people give us poor service because we’re Black?
We’ve all had poor service at one time or another and it’s extremely frustrating. But it’s difficult to describe what the level of humiliation feels like to receive poor service while you witness others around you being treated with respect and noticing the only difference between you and them is the color of your skin.
It’s even worse to be downright refused service because of the way you look. It’s unfortunate, it’s terrible, and it happens. Even worse is having to explain to your children that you can’t do something simply because you’re Black.
Will people spit at us, call us names, or yell racial slurs at us?
I was crossing the street in Prague on a beautiful sunny day. An older man was crossing the street on the opposite side. Being the Southern girl I am, I made eye contact and smiled at him as we were passing. He frowned, curled his lip, and dropped an “N” bomb. He did it with conviction. He wanted me to know that he did not approve of my existence, especially not in what he considered to be his space, a space he felt entitled to have devoid of people like me.
I’ve heard so many stories of people all over the world being verbally attacked. In the moment it’s always shocking, jarring, and people rarely know how to respond. Think about it, you’re traveling and in a euphoric bubble of amazement and wonder, drinking in new sites and sounds. You’re joyful. And someone spits at you or yells a racial slur and suddenly you’re pulled out of that euphoric bubble and into an ugly reality and wondering what exactly happened. Those are moments you don’t ever forget. They are the souvenirs you never wanted to take back with you.
Will men assume I am a sex worker?
In many countries, Black women have reported being put in uncomfortable situations where men have followed them on foot and in cars asking “how much”, waving money at them, or being aggressive because they assumed they are sex workers.
This isn’t just an annoyance, this situation can actually be dangerous.
Is it physically safe for me and my family?
We can’t and will not pretend that people have not experienced physical violence because of their race. In many countries, the US included, people have been physically attacked, the victim of hate crimes, or brutalized by the authorities because of their race. It’s something that’s in the bakc of
Despite the things Black moms have to consider and the racism or colorism they may experience while traveling, Wandering Moms truly believes that we belong EVERYWHERE. We should stop moving about the world and giving our children the world because of how other people view us. We must assert our presence in every space and walk with confidence that we belong everywhere.
Libryia is the Co-Founder of Wandering Moms but also known on as Wander Woman Inc. Libryia is the mother of a teenage daughter who she took around the world for an entire year! On her own personal blog she writes about travel, parenting, finance, self-improvement, and working remotely.