Featured, Lists, Race & Politics, Theory & Essay

Fresh Out the (Black) Box

Following the election, my Facebook feed lit up with threats of a #blaxit, which excited the hell out of me since I had #blaxited a few years prior. In 2013, I moved from New York City (Where Brooklyn At?) to Geneva, Switzerland, after my wife secured a position at an international organization. Four years later, we’ve settled into an idyllic life blocks away from Lake Geneva. I’ve learned some French (Bah, oui!), returned to practicing law, and our family now includes a cat and a daughter.

For many, #blaxit talk has died down. Either the frustration of the moment has passed or the reality of the emigration process set in. Still, I’m out here.

Recently, at a friend’s wedding, I was introduced to a room full of bougie Black folks as being from Switzerland. It felt weird. Half the room looked surprised and the other half looked at the white guy standing next to me.

Several people approached me throughout the night, curious about what life in Switzerland was like. This general question was usually followed by more specific questions, such as: How is it for Black Americans? Is there racism? How have you managed being away this long? Below are some reflections on these questions.

From Black American to American (Black)

I’ve always identified as Black (or African-American when I could spare the extra syllables); referring to myself as an American seemed unnecessary when 98.9% of the people around me were American too.

My American identity, like my passport, was only reserved for trips abroad. It was reinforced when locals referred to me as gringo (Brazil 2005), Americano (Italy 2007), or Obama (Egypt 2009).

In a sense, life abroad is like being on permanent vacation. My longstanding order, Black first, American occasionally, has been reversed. Now I’m primarily American.

Being Black is secondary, supplementary. If you’ve grown up indoctrinated in The StruggleTM, this feels strange, but also liberating. The historical baggage of America’s racial history is gone and so is the burden of anticipating and managing other peoples’ reactions to your Blackness.

Here I am just a lawyer, not a Black lawyer, which allows me to focus on doing my job (reviewing poorly written documents drafted by people for whom English is a fifth language) and nothing else. Finally, I get the full benefit of my years of experience and this expensive-ass law degree.

Is there racism? Yes, but less than advertised.

Americans, both Black and white, would lead you to believe that racism abroad is exactly the same as it is in the U.S. I’ve had Black American friends inform me that “America is the safest place for Black Americans in the world.” After two straight years of watching police shoot unarmed Black men and get away with it? How, Sway!?!?

I’ve also had a white American casually inform me that the Swiss can be racist as hell (and moments later had that same person say some borderline racist shit to a group of Black and brown people).  Hello Mr. Pot, I see that you’ve met Mr. Kettle.

Has my experience gone as predicted? In the words of Andre 3000, “Naw, not really.” I’ve found life in Geneva, much less racist than expected. The awkward tensions, subtle slights, micro-aggressions, and thinly-veiled resentments common in the U.S. have been largely absent in here in Geneva.

Is this because I’m now American? Probably. But history matters as well. Europe is behind the U.S. in dealing with the large-scale integration of people from different racial and ethnic backgrounds. They also don’t have a history of owning people and then fighting a war over the right to own said people and then marginalizing those people and then . . . you get the point.

Now that doesn’t mean that racism and discrimination are absent here. To the contrary, I hear that people of color and even immigrants from other European countries (France, Spain, Portugal, and the former Balkan states) suffer from discrimination. The Swiss are equal opportunity haters.

Geneva is probably the least Swiss of any city in Switzerland, boasting a seriously diverse population comprised of 40% expats. This contributes to a melting pot feel similar to NYC, except even more meltier. The Genevois, to their credit, have acknowledged racism and discrimination as a problem. The canton (state) even sponsors an annual “Week Against Racism” to highlight the value of diversity, raise awareness and combat discrimination.

To have people openly acknowledge that there is a problem, and then seek to address it rather than live in denial, is refreshing. The fact that they will try and resolve racism and discrimination in one week, is uniquely Swiss, ever timely and efficient.

In short, Geneva may not be less racist in an absolute sense, but it definitely feels less racist towards me.

How can you stay away? Cuz I Always Remember to ‘Stay Black’

This last question is asked out of deep concern that I’m not getting the recommended daily dose of B(lack) vitamins. I assure folks that I’m fine, that I see Black people every day, and that I found a Black barbershop within a week of moving here.

I don’t feel isolated at all. First, I’m used to being the only Black American in my house (my wife is Indo-Canadian). Second, Black American culture is all around me. Euros love them some Jazz, House, Techno, R&B, Hip-Hop, Whatever-we-come-up-with-next.  Hidden Figures and Moonlight are both in theaters, and I can stream Black TV shows whenever I want.

(Side Note: For all of the Black American culture, Black Americans are strikingly absent. We get hella love and respect, but we’re not in these global streets to reap the benefits. We are leaving some serious opportunities AND money on the table.)

The opportunity to move to Geneva came at the right time for me. Would I have made this move in my 20’s? Hell naw. I was too busy looking for my future baby mama. My attendance record at Da Club was perfect.

As a settled man in my 30’s, different story. After 15 years in NYC (where Brooklyn at?), I was ready for a new challenge. I felt grounded enough in my identity to seek out new experiences and not worry about losing myself. In a sense, I had achieved my own personal Peak-Blackness.

* * *

Four years later and with no end in sight, I’m immensely thankful to have this opportunity. The experience has challenged and transformed me in ways I find difficult to describe. Each day feels like I woke up and found $100 in my couch cushions. Is this a newfound sense of freedom, of liberation, of being left the fuck alone (in a good way)?  Whatever “it” is, I want more of it, I want to share it with folks back home, and I want my daughter to grow up with it – like forever.

Malcolm Archer

Malcolm Archer hails from Houston, TX and currently lives in Geneva, Switzerland with his wife, daughter and cat. Malcolm has also lived in the Bay Area, Atlanta and NYC and accumulated numerous stamps in his hood passport. He enjoys watching soccer, performing stand-up comedy and shopping for fine discount wines at the Swiss equivalent of 7-Eleven.

  • Brooklyn_Bruin

    *huge grin on face*

    Just finalized my trip to Asia thirty minutes ago. Haven’t been back in over a decade.

    I was finna ask some bachelor questions, but I see you is married.

    • Creep don’t sleep!

    • cyanic

      Do you date Asian women stateside?

      • Brooklyn_Bruin

        Never, here nor there.

        • cyanic

          Okay – my presumption based on your excitement level at visiting Asian again. I thought the women took to you.

          • Brooklyn_Bruin

            That happens nowhere. I have to make my own “luck”.

            • cyanic

              Maybe because we’re friendly and you’re nice, but I bet you’re not the least bit ugly.

              • Brooklyn_Bruin

                The female heart is ever changing.

                I’m tryna find out what them noodles talking about, and can the help me design a robotic crawfish peeler

          • Doug Chu

            ???

    • NonyaB?

      Which countries and whatchu mean by “bachelor questions”?

      • Brooklyn_Bruin

        HK and by bachelor questions I mean *redacted*

        • NonyaB?

          HK is fun: good eats and good shopping. Can’t help you much on the bachelor tip – best bet is to look up int’l expat and banker forums and ask there.

  • Question

    Interesting piece. Side note – have you hit up the Montreux Jazz Festival?! It’s worth checking out…

  • Spicy Kas

    So the question is do you know Geneva Girl (occasional poster in the comment section).

    • Lea Thrace

      that was legit my first question too.

      • Spicy Kas

        At first I thought it was her husband . . . Because there obviously are only two black people in Geneva.

  • Phoebe Cohen

    Yeah, on the surface people in Europe and Canada (I’ve lived both places, though not Switzerland) can seem less racist. But below that can be different. I lived in England for awhile. Because I am white and American, I was often seen as “safe” for British people to quietly admit racist opinions to. “They’re all terrorists, all of them,” one white British man on a train said to me, gesturing towards a Middle-Eastern man quietly reading a paper two aisles over. “We need to exterminate all Pakis,” (Pakistanis, though the term is used more generally for central Asian immigrants) another white British man said to me. Seriously. Like a final solution was the only option. When a definitive majority of British voters selected Brexit, I was not surprised. Racists are quiet, but they do vote. That’s why people fighting racism must vote too. There is a special congressional election for Kansas District 4 tomorrow, April 11. Jim Thompson is the Democrat. District 4 has the city of Wichita in it. If you know anyone in Wichita, tell them to get out and vote for Thompson tomorrow.

    • Canada is racist as FAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWK!

      • Phoebe Cohen

        Really?

        • I’ll vouch for that. I rode through Canadian mountains on a train, and they treated me like I was Jesse James about to rob the gold car.
          #theyclutchtheirpursestoo

          • Sigma_Since 93

            Yeah Caribana had helped to skew perceptions of islanders and Black New Yorkers

          • Spicy Kas

            Funny my experience with Canada has been Toronto area hanging with my wife’s family. Racism didn’t come up as a topic.

            • Sigma_Since 93

              Did you open your mouth? If you’re running with the natives and they don’t tell folks you’re not one of them, you get a pass. It’s like Black folk passing in America during slavery.

              • Spicy Kas

                I wasnt weighing in with an opinion, more highlighting how my particular bubble worked.

                • Sigma_Since 93

                  What I meant was if you opened your mouth to speak, it may let folks know you are not a native thus giving folks the chance to throw shade.

                  • Spicy Kas

                    I literally was never without the family. They picked us up and dropped us off at the airport and we stayed with her cousin. My opinion of Canada is that it is majority Jamaican. 4 of my mother-in-law siblings with their extended families live in the Toronto area.

              • Other than being the only black person in my car, (alone too)
                I was doing me.
                Must’ve been the hat and cameras, lol.

        • Are you being funny?

          • Lisss

            As racist as Canada is, i have to admit that the way they treat blacks is mild compare to the sh** they do to Native Americans. Although, Arabs are currently the newfound favorite target in Québec.

            • They are shytty to everybody…

              • miss t-lee

                They’re definitely giving the US a run for their money in the way they’ve treated their First Nations folk.

          • Holy Room

            She is white and American, soooo…..

          • Phoebe Cohen

            Nah, just fishing for travel stories ;-). I can totally believe Canadians can be racist. I ran into two old YT guys in St. Catherines who were telling me that 45’s election was “the smartest thing your country’s ever done!” Seriously??? This was last November too, while I was still vomiting in horror.

      • cyanic

        What happened to you there?

        • Nada… but when we used to party in Windsor… they Canucks were shytty as fukk to the black dudes from Detroit but let drunk white dudes who were fighting walk clean out the club…. Not just that.

    • Brown Rose

      England is different as is Canada. I know people who lived/live there. Their racism is obvious.

    • CozyVon

      And what was your reply?

      • Phoebe Cohen

        Punted. “Oh gosh, um, I don’t think so. Sooo, nice weather we’ve been having.” I’m useless.

  • Chris James

    Can we get our more traveled brethren and sistren to rank international locations according to friendliness toward diversity – particularly Blackness? Let’s get an unofficial, international Negro Travelers’ Green Book going.

    • Phoebe Cohen

      Yes! That would be so useful!

    • Brown Rose

      Green book pops again. I would welcome a ranking specifically geared to Black people.

      • Brooklyn_Bruin

        Lot of baggage with that, real rap

        • Brown Rose

          Well sure there is, but it would get a general jist.

        • lunanoire

          Yeah, and b/c of the one drop rule, there are some Black Americans who might be identified as belonging to some other group, which could be positive, neutral, or negative, depending.

    • Brooklyn_Bruin

      It’s all over YouTube. They’re all safe and they’re all racist at the same time.

      • NonyaB?

        Hah. Such a stealth cynic. Carry on!

        • Brooklyn_Bruin

          I’m actually very pro travel. I just don’t think Wakanda/Black Diaspora Israel exists. (Until we make it, closest thing we got is Atlanta?)

          For instance, I left my DC basement apartment at the crack of dawn, to take a train to a job I don’t really care for.

          In a previous lifetime, I left my top floor sun light filled and spacious apartment, got in my car and went to a job I didn’t mind.

          Racism in America and in my life stayed constant. But my quality of life was better in one place over the other. (I make more $ here than I did there)

          That’s what a lot of expats come to realize, black American ones more so than others.

          Would I rather deal with micro aggressions here or there? That’s a question about quality of life recognizing that we’ll never get to white guy levels of acceptance.

          • TheUnsungStoryteller

            I totally agree with you. There’s no such thing as a Utopia in this world. There’s always going to be racism wherever you go, you just have to find out what you are willing to handle and possibly fight if you’re like me. I think at the end of the day, you have to ask yourself what kind of life you want to live.

          • NonyaB?

            I’m definitely of the “no Wakanda out there” view, too. Plus, ideal base differs from person to person. I advocate travelling/living abroad for the widened/shifted perspective it brings (including new ways to address issues back home), not necessarily for permanent emigration.

            • Brooklyn_Bruin

              Permanent emigration is not off the table for me, but I’m woefully inadequate for moving to a place where I could make serious impact

              • NonyaB?

                What d’you mean by woefully inadequate? Plus, you can’t know of every way you could possibly make impact in a given place; some things are unpredictable until they play out and I’ve seen enough people doing big things abroad that they fell into by chance.

                • Brooklyn_Bruin

                  I have a professional skill set for an advanced economy. Most of us do.

                  Drop me in Burundi or Botswana, and I’ll be a tour guide or a hotel concierge.

                  Much like a typical dc uber driver is either an American with a liberal arts degree or a foreigner with a technical one, lol.

                  What do black political strongholds need? It’s not western educated people they can’t employ.

                  • NonyaB?

                    I thought you read enough of related publications and mixed enough with related peeps online to be more aware of goings-on in different places.

                    Drop you in Burundi or Botswana and you could running a startup accelerator or something-something govt advisory role in X govt sector, or export business of new hot crop like their coffee. There are a few expats (educated but not necessarily with extended experience) doing this there now.

                    And although places like Nigeria don’t lack for educated indigenes, there’s a sh*tload of expat workers (incl Black peeps) at int’l companies there.

                  • Annalise Keating

                    “I have a professional skill set for an advanced economy. Most of us do. Drop me in Burundi or Botswana and I will be a tour guide or hotel concierge”

                    How much do you know about the economy of e.g Botswana from personal experience?

                    • Brooklyn_Bruin

                      I haven’t been to the diamond mines.

                • cedriclathan

                  One example is in Marrakesh Morocco, to live there as a foreigner, you have to create jobs for the locals. You can’t just go get a job. You have to come as a business or start or partner with a business. My friend owns the JNANE TAMSNA resort (http://jnane.com/jnane-tamsna/) so her (French/Camoroon from Paris) and her husband (American from Michigan) have had permanent residence for a couple of decades now. That’s who we’ve stayed with when we go.

                  • NonyaB?

                    Residency requirements vary for different categories and requiring some local labour for entrepreneurship is good. But you can still get a job with multinationals like GE, Unilever, oil firms, etc o routinely hire expats – I know several who relocated to such locations from N America. Also, new/solo businesses can probably hire also expats as long as they’ve fulfilled local labour requirements.

          • Question

            Just adding that it also depends on what factors contribute to individual ideas of quality of life.

          • Blueberry01

            “(I make more $ here than I did there)”

            Could it be that you keep more money in your pocket here than you did there, too (with all things being considered)?

            • Brooklyn_Bruin

              That’s part of it. No car, no insurance, repairs, maintenance, gas. I like the food here less, so I cook more. When I do the math and the projections, i often wonder if I could go out to Vegas and find some other job working with the Illuminati.

              • Blueberry01

                True, but Metro is too d*mn expensive!!! (People can say what they want about the MTA, but it’s cheap, relatively clean, and can get you wherever you need to go back for about $5. – at any time of day! ) I hope that your job reimburses you for travel.

                Yo, I had a homegirl just come back from teaching in Vegas. Suprisingly when I visited her, the areas (outside of the strip, of course) was very MoCo-ish.

                Thus, I believe that you’d do well out there. You’ve got city experience and suburbs-adjacent exposure. Perfect criteria for Illuminati recruitment.

                • Brooklyn_Bruin

                  I was just talking about this with people at work. For folks that can’t walk to the metro stop.

                  Parking at the metro + round trip > gas + wear and tear + parking in town

                  Blew my mind. One of the homies pulled up an Excel where he did the math.

                  • Blueberry01

                    FACTS.

                    And it’s slow AF.

                    And it’s inaccessible (does not have as many stops) as the MTA.

                    And them n*ggaz close at midnight.

                    And they closing stations – and the entire Metro that one day – and calling it SafeTrack.

                    No, you need to safely call the commissioner of MTA and let NYC do a professional development on how to repair track lines without severely debilitating this already weakened transit service.

      • Kathleencbriseno

        Google is paying 97$ per hour! Work for few hours & have longer with friends and family! !sq75c:
        On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $8752 this last four weeks.. Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had.. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
        !sq75c:
        ??
        ??;?? http://GoogleFinancialCashJobs365DirectRevolutionGetPaid$97/Hour ????????????????????????????????????????????????????::::::!sq75c:….,…..

    • Val

      Sigh that we need such a thing.

      • ” just look for the notches on the trees…”
        -Rosalee

      • Spicy Kas

        I’ve only vacationed never lived. And obviously vacation life doesn’t give you the true flavor.

        • TheUnsungStoryteller

          It really doesn’t. Shoot, I contemplated living in Rwanda after staying there a month for a college program because the natives that we worked with treated like a queen and said I belonged there…

          But would I really be ready for that much of a cultural change in my life? Would I be willing to give up the privileges of a first world citizen just for the privilege of being seen as a glorified (rich) Rwandan?

          • Doug Chu

            You’d have American expat privileges, which are really cushy and enjoyable.

            • TheUnsungStoryteller

              True. I guess it depends on what I determine as my standard for quality of life.

    • chifi33

      I was in Sweden recently for a month, for work. I stayed in a small town but visited Stockholm on the weekends. In Stockholm, no one paid attention to me at all, I was a non entity, as one is wont to be in a big city. In the small town I was in, people would have a look on their face when they talked to me in Swedish and then when I was like “naw fam, I don’t speak this” they were like “YOUR AN AMERICAN OH MY GODDDDDD AMAZEBALLS” I cant articulate how that made feel like the only reason my dark skin gets a pass is because Im American, but if I’m from anywhere else its no good?

      • rehreh

        “the only reason my dark skin gets a pass is because Im American, but if I’m from anywhere else its no good?”

        This is such a struggle everyday here (in Europe). We Black Americans get access to privilege (being American) and it is a mindfuck because we’re not used to benefiting from any kind of cultural privilege. But that’s a good thing since it means we have empathy, unlike other people who are used so to their privilege that it goes unexamined.

        • MrsRocksteady

          So much empathy. All my friends here are from West Africa, whereas when I lived in the US in LA, they did not mess with black Americans. I am cool here, back home I am considered lower status than them.

      • MrsRocksteady

        You put this so much better than me. I live in Stockholm and Black Americans are treated distinctly different than Black Africans. It is like some Swedes get star-struck because you are from the States. The small towns here are very redneckish. There is a ton of white trash who fly the rebel flag (which is laughable) and are obsessed with American rockabilly culture.
        Also, not too many East Africans here are friendly. West Africans go out of their way to speak to me, which is what makes this place feel like home. It pisses me off that nationality has to do with how you can be treated, but it also pisses me off when I am in the states and not deemed as an American. We can’t win.

    • black-a-rican

      Here’s my list:
      Afghanistan ?
      Bahamas ?
      Brazil ?
      Germany ??
      Ireland ?
      Kuwait ?
      Mexico ?
      Portugal ?
      Spain ??
      UAE ?

      Everybody add your experiences!

      • Chris James

        I ain’t been nowhere but Puerto Rico (which of course doesn’t count because it’s a US territory). Very interesting ratings. I’ve heard (and seen YouTube videos, for homie above) that Germany can be a pretty racist place. Also, I heard many years ago that in Mexico everyone assumes you’re a famous professional basketball player.

        • black-a-rican

          I know a lot of black people who have or still do live in Germany and I haven’t heard of one bad story. Most people are pretty educated and respectful of black people. Whatever hate or discourse there is, is usually directed at middle eastern or central Asian people.

          Edit: I was in a Mexican border town, so take that for what its worth.

          • Chris James

            Interesting. I hear ya on the border town. What was your Ireland experience like?

            • black-a-rican

              “Oh, hey look. There’s a negro!”

              Kind of like that.

              • rehreh

                Lol Ireland in a nutshell – I hated that place.

      • rehreh

        Portugal: ??
        Spain: ?
        Switzerland: ?
        Ireland: ??
        England: ?
        France (Paris): ??
        France (anywhere else): ?
        Italy: ?
        Germany: ?

        Black American, living abroad for 8 years – ratings based on personal experience and friends’ experiences.

        • BrownKitty289

          Thank you!

        • Robert Dotson

          Good Sh*% Thank you

      • Chiang Mai, Thailand. There is a growing community of Black travelers/teachers/temporary expats and when we get together, 10, 15, 20 deep, you would never know we’re out in Northern Thailand. It’s a real family like bond with connections all over Southeast Asia… I must say it’s rewarded me with some of the best friendships made on the road & travel experiences of my life.

    • Question

      It’s too dependent on individual experiences to make such a list. Example – I love Spain. My husband believes it’s one of the most racist places he’s ever been. I thought Australia was questionable; my husband though Australians despite being culturally immature where pretty acceptable.

      And again, If there’s truth to privilege being rooted in ones nation of origin, the list will again be highly dependent.

      • Chris James

        So give a list and brief sypnoses of your experiences in the foreign lands to which you’ve traveled. Less of a ranking, more of a subjective offering of some racial context. If multiple VSBs/VSSs have had similar experiences, we’ll know where to go and where to stay away from. It’s time for me to get that passport and spread my wings – a brotha just wants to know where he’s welcome.

        • Question

          May want to check out Nomadness (Facebook group for black travelers)…

      • HarpyLibtart

        ‘Culturally immature’ describes Australia perfectly…people forget, the country is only 230 years old.
        There is a deep seated issue with the fact that the Government WAS crazy racist for a long time and then once that stopped being cool, they just all agreed to act like it never happened, to the point where the ‘history’ they teach children is laughably inadequate…
        They gloss over the fact that white settlers pretty much conducted a state-sanctioned genocide of the Aboriginal people and then stole the children of the ones who were left to try and Anglicize them, basically destroyed their culture and then whitewashed history to cover it up.
        So there is a lot of racism directed towards them by people who have been raised and trained to believe that Aboriginal people are less evolved drunks who just want to live on welfare and neglect their children.
        A lot of times if you do encounter racism, it’s mostly just ignorance rather than maliciousness, but they do have an unfortunate habit of deciding that since they didn’t MEAN something in a racist way, it’s not actually racist, which can get really infuriating.
        BUT to be fair, it is getting better all the time, the younger generation are really awesome and much more woke than the old folks and one of the things I love most about Australians is the way they will throw down for a stranger if they think

        • Old Head

          Been in Australia for over 25 years, what you just said is so true

        • Brother Mouzone

          So, i guess THAT’S why white muricans love everything Australian.

          • HarpyLibtart

            That and the fact that wypipo love the ILLUSION of danger, LOL…
            Here they can gawk at kangaroos (who are MEAN, yo) and swim with sharks and go to the Outback and pretend to be rugged outdoorsmen like the Crocodile Hunter, but everyone speaks English and still thinks Americans are cool so it’s not scary.

        • Well said Harpy, I’ve found that guilt over what Australian settlers did to the aboriginal people when they got here tends to manifest as anger and racism towards the very people who we are trying to help get back on their feet and rediscover their cultural roots.

          We will get there eventually, One Nation will continue to be laughed at for their idiotic comments and racist policies. Pauline needs to go back to her fish and chip shop where she can ban whoever she wants from coming in her nasty little store.

          This I hope is the end result of hatred.

          • HarpyLibtart

            It gives me life every time I remember that Pauline’s shop is actually owned by a Vietnamese family now ?

            • Seriously?? That is the best thing I’ve heard all day!!

              Thanks Harpy, next time I’m in Ipswich I’m going to throw them some business.

              I bet they cook 100 times better than the silly old trout ?

    • cedriclathan

      Had no problems in Morocco. Spain sucked. London was a stopover so I have no opinion. Had no problems on the Peruvian Amazon (in the jungle). Had no problems in Ecuador. The usual petty crap in Mexico. All of the places with no problems, we were hanging out with a local host, so we weren’t the wandering tourist. I’m sure that might be part of the reason we weren’t aware of any animosity.

  • Should we Black Americans finally start considering spreading our wings? Should we consider really leaving America?? Not in the sense of running or abandoning country, but for some damn space & liberation.. so we can flourish and grow in places that might welcome or better receive our culture, style and excellence. I ain’t got the answers..but I’m just saying, dude made overseas sound like a slice of heaven. And peaceful. F*ckin’peaceful.

    • YES!!! Go see other black folks… lol Black Americans, typically, are treated well even when the black folks in the respective countries are not.

      • Jennifer

        I’ve always had mixed feelings about that. I remember living in Austria for a summer and getting the best treatment from the locals once they discovered I was American. Meanwhile, the West African immigrants living there were treated like trash.

        • EXACTLY… How, in good conscience, can we just turn our heads?

    • Even if you don’t stay – just go.
      I’ve done it several times over since I was a wee lad. The contrast of how “we” are treated is amazing, often beautiful. But… don’t get it twisted. There are folks that hate us …everywhere.

    • cyanic

      So does Tina Turner.

  • “I’ve always identified as Black (or African-American when I could spare the extra syllables); referring to myself as an American seemed unnecessary when 98.9% of the people around me were American too.”

    Every Black American who hasn’t traveled or mingled with other diasporans needs to read this sentence one million times. Americans do NOT have the lock on black.

    And Black Americans culture is coveted globally. This was an awesome read, homie. I think the Swiss are waaaaaaaaay more conscientious of being understanding to differences unlike the English, French, Spanish, Italians, Irish and the Portuguese.

    So I wonder if he’s out in these streets eating reindeer sausage?

    • Spicy Kas

      Reindeer sausage . . . It’s too early for me to start with the shenanigans, so Imma let it pass.

      • miss t-lee

        Deer sausage is good, I’m assuming reindeer sausage would be as well.

        • Spicy Kas

          I was going to take that in a chexual direction. Unrelated, I didn’t think deer sausage was anything special.

          • miss t-lee

            You’re a weirdo dawg.

            • Spicy Kas

              I assumed that was treated as a given

              • miss t-lee

                I was just trying to figure out how any of that was s*xual, but then I realized I didn’t care.

                • Spicy Kas

                  Sausage

                  • miss t-lee

                    Cochino.

        • nawl. They also do reindeer blood sausage.. NAWL.

          • miss t-lee

            I’ve had blood sausage too.
            I’m really not phased…lol

            • You’re hurting my whole life right now.

              • miss t-lee

                Country upbringing madame.

                • And I’m a city girl.. so yeah… lol

                  • miss t-lee

                    Exactly…lol

                • Epsilonicus

                  Folk talking about a “whole animal” food movement. I am like we have been eating like this forever.

                  • miss t-lee

                    LISTEN.
                    They just now getting hip…lol

                    • Epsilonicus

                      As my grandma says, from snout to tail.

                    • miss t-lee

                      Everything but the oink.

                    • Looking4Treble

                      From the rooter to the tooter.

  • KNeale

    The most annoying thing is when a white person says “[insert country] is way more racist than America”. Because you’ve experienced racism before?…in both places? Shut the uk up! And it is 100% about what type of information they are accessing via the media. My polish friend tried to say “France is way more racist than America” and began to make a list of racist stuff in France in which every single thing happens here in more than isolated incidents. She just hadn’t heard about it. I’ve learned from Europeans and Africans that overseas America is portrayed very differently than actually is. Its better in the social media age but not much better. A Nigerian man who was visiting in US but spent most of time between Nigeria and London, “London is way more racist than in America because in London black people are still a minority”. I actually had to explain to him that black people are a minority in America and we are only about 12% of the total population. He had only ever been to major cities so his impressions of cultural acceptance of diversity of America was essentially Time Square New York.

    • miss t-lee

      I’m not really sure why folks think that any one place has the racism crown.

      • Brooklyn_Bruin

        We’re number #1!

        • miss t-lee

          I wouldn’t doubt it, but then again, I’m also not buying when folks say “there isn’t any racism in [insert country].”
          I haven’t had the chance to travel internationally, but I don’t believe that sh*t for a second.

          • Brown Rose

            Agreed. I think the burden is lighter, but there is no escape velocity.

          • Brooklyn_Bruin

            Only got 10 countries down, but I’ve never *not* seen it.

            These folks will have you doing the mental calculus, was it because I was a foreigner, are they just rude, do they think I’m poor…

            Racism, fact of life when you black, end of story.

            Now we’ve established that, what next? My mentality at least.

            • miss t-lee

              Been going on since the beginning of time, don’t see that changing ever.
              I saw you’re going to Asia. Get it.

          • NonyaB?

            Having lived abroad a bit and visited countless countries, I’m here to confirm that is bullsh*t. Discrimination exists but manifests differently and in varying degrees – in some places countries, it’s racism against POC groups, in others it might be by religion, by ethnic group (even within same race), by class, by combination of any 2 or more of factors listed, etc. You can only do such comparison on a localized level like city A vs city B because we know it varies even within the same country.

            “I haven’t had the chance to travel internationally”
            *Starts booking T-Lee’s ticket for world trip with stop in Nigeria*

            • miss t-lee

              Thank your for the input :)

              From your fingers to God’s ears!

      • We’ve had numerous convos about France and its “awesomeness” in regards to Coates and others.

        • miss t-lee

          Mmm hmm.
          I meant Coates isn’t the first to talk about France in that light though. That’s been a thing for quite sometime among the artsy folks.

          • Wright and others loved talking about it too. Sham’s post pretty much certified everything I was told or imagined.

            • cyanic

              The poet/actor/rapper from the movie Slam lives there now.

          • Spicy Kas

            Black Americans are treated better than Africans bases on my very limited experience.

            • miss t-lee

              I can see that.
              However, there’s definitely an anti-African issue the world over.

              • Spicy Kas

                Heck, Black Americans have been known to have some “interesting” opinions about Africans.

          • cyanic

            Because it maybe one of the best countries in the world to be an artist.

            • miss t-lee

              That’s a given, doesn’t mean it’s for Black people though.

              • cyanic

                You mean non-artist blacks?

                • miss t-lee

                  Yes.

        • Brown Rose

          Coates is considered a brilliant writer. He is valued there just like many Black artists and writers that escaped to France.

          • That’s what Teesh and I thought. Your truck driving cousin isn’t so welcome!

            • Brown Rose

              Nope. Even Coates has acknowledged how difficult is to live there as a poor Black African. His experience as a lauded Creative was different.

            • cyanic

              Only the best and brightest need apply.

        • Coates is a dayum lie… and of course he feels that way.. HE IS AMERICAN. How obtuse can he be?

          • cyanic

            He is melodramatic about everything. Overly sensitive intellectual.

        • Lisss

          France and its “awesomeness”

          Idk what homeboy was smoking but he most def need to lower the dose.
          France???
          Made-Haiti-pay-for-the-audacity-of-seeking-freedom France? Colonized-half-of-Africa France?
          Have-an-extreme-right-party-in-Parliament-for-over-a-decade France?
          Deliberately-put-immigrants-from-Africa-in-ghettos France??!!
          Shheeeeiiiiddd…

          • Love his writing but he is one in a long line of artsy types who have done this. I furrow my brow at the thought of it.

            • cyanic

              The luxury of being an artsy type elsewhere and being wildly successful for it.

          • !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • cyanic

        America does.

        • miss t-lee

          I’m not convinced.

          • cyanic

            If history and the present day doesn’t convince you nothing will.

            • miss t-lee

              As I mentioned down thread…we don’t have a monopoly on racism.

              • cyanic

                I believe ours is the most consistent and toxic.

                • miss t-lee

                  I’m not really in the business of splitting hairs.
                  It’s all the same.

                • Terri

                  I’m white so I can’t say this for certain, but I think indigenous Canadians would say racism in Canada is consistent and very toxic. Any measure will likely bear that out (disproportional incarceration, child mortality, police brutality etc) Maybe there are differences at a governmental level, since the rise of the Tea Party. Really racist parties like that exist in Europe, but don’t have the same sort of presence in Canada. But again, I’m white, so this is a second hand impression.

    • cyanic

      America is exceptional in its racism.

  • Brown Rose

    I think that it helps the author that he is ensconced in the professional class as a Lawyer. His experience being Black might be quite different if he was working as a Cook or a maid.

    Still, I’ve heard many stories about the relief of living abroad.For all our faults, Black Americans value community and family very highly. Problem is access, fear, money, and the will to move.

    • This is true. Being a professional American is a lot different than being a work-a-day schmoe. And remember, those people rarely have the resources or connections to move.

      • miss t-lee

        Bingo.

      • Brown Rose

        Agreed. This is my problem with posts like this. Who are they talking to? Those with flexible income and jobs that can move and are wanted in those host countries as opposed to the regular joes/janes, that really can’t just up and leave and will face the same kinds of problems that they are trying to escape here.

        • Brooklyn_Bruin

          VSB definitely reaches to the black lumpen proletariat

          • Black lumpen proletariat. lol y’all on fire today.

          • Kat

            Well damn…I googled that. What you trying to say bruh?

            • Spicy Kas

              Sarcasm?

              • Kat

                I missed it.

            • Brooklyn_Bruin

              It was a joke. VSB, almost by definition, doesn’t reach them.

              • TheUnsungStoryteller

                Yeah, I was about to say…I had to think about the opposite of proletariat from my days in sociology class studying Marxism. You were definitely joking lol

          • Haven’t come across that term since reading “How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America” by Manning Marable.

            • Brooklyn_Bruin

              Ha!

            • Brooklyn_Bruin

              I’m reading How Europe under developed Africa right now. (Walter Rodney 1972). Manning wrote his in 1983

              • Yeah. I think I need to give Manning a re-read. Haven’t read it since I was an undergrad back in 2004.

                • Brooklyn_Bruin

                  What else you got on the re-read list? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a black canon before

                  • Anything by Clayborne Carson and Manning Marable is gonna be good. My black studies professor had me read a ton of their work.

                    Other works:
                    “Radio Free Dixie” by Timothy Tyson
                    “Avengers of the New World” by Laurent DuBois
                    “Inhuman Bondage” by David Biron Davis
                    “Time on Two Crosses: the Writings of Bayard Rustin”

                    A black canon would be awesome.

        • miss t-lee

          I’m glad you mentioned this….lol
          I didn’t wanna be a “hater”.

          • Brown Rose

            I am not trying to hate either. I am working class. I just can’t up and leave. I would love to “see the world” and I have a passport, but these blog posts aren’t for people like me.

            • miss t-lee

              I should’ve put quotations around hater, since I was joking. Lemme fix that.
              And trust and believe, we’re >here<.
              I'm never gonna be travel noire material…lol

              • Brown Rose

                *salutes* you get it.

                • miss t-lee

                  Indeed.

            • The 1% blacks

              • Spicy Kas

                Class fight in the comment section? I’m repping country bama’s if it comes to that.

              • Brooklyn_Bruin

                Half of us are in the middle class or better. But them who can, don’t.

                It’s a desire thing, more than expenses. Folks have cars and barely use them for more than trips to work and the store.

                • Where you getting these numbers from? Half? I need receipts Kas. For all you know. I could homeless and using the computer at my local library.

                  • Brooklyn_Bruin

                    Depends on how you define middle class, but Wikipedia breaks it down nicely. Colombia is 350 for the flight, and hotel can be as cheap as $30 night.

                    I spent a whole (work) day at Google flights, looking at how cheap some places are.

                    It’s cheaper for me to go to Mexico than New Mexico.

                    • Digital_Underground

                      You have to adjust those middle class figures for location as well. Places like LA, New York, Northern Va and the Bay Area still require quite a bit of coin for a middle class lifestyle.

                    • All the round trip flights I was looking at were $2,0000+ !!!!!

                      What site are you looking at?!

                    • Brooklyn_Bruin

                      Google Flights

                      I’m flying out of DC, so i have that going for me

                    • Hugh Akston

                      You’re right

                      I booked a flight to Mexico earlier this year and then after I was trying to book a flight to Albuquerque…it was twice as much…my butt stayed home lol

                  • Spicy Kas

                    Uh that was Brooklyn not Kas.

                    • Sorry.

                    • Spicy Kas

                      No worries, it’s definitely the type of half cocked opinion stated as fact that I’m known for.

                  • Spicy Kas

                    Homeless but not carless. You posted a selfie from the care a few weeks back.

                    • Who said that was my car? You making so many assumptions about my life lol

                      But that is my car :-)

                • miss t-lee

                  “Folks have cars and barely use them for more than trips to work and the store.”

                  Barely?
                  Can’t relate.

                  • Brooklyn_Bruin

                    You gotta drive the better part of a day to get out of Texas! Dallas folks and Houston folks hit their respective casinos though.

                    • miss t-lee

                      Casinos? *confused face*
                      Plus, I’m not in either city. This is car country.

                    • Brooklyn_Bruin

                      You still dealing with traffic on 35. You can’t even get across town.

                    • miss t-lee

                      I don’t drive 35. I get across town just fine.

                  • TheUnsungStoryteller

                    He’s from NYC. Not Texas. We already know about Texas.

                    • miss t-lee

                      HAHAHAH.
                      You know! :)

                • Spicy Kas

                  What is your definition of middle class.

                  • Brooklyn_Bruin

                    My personal definition floats. 30-35k is a good point to start. Lower middle to be sure, but middle definitely

                    • Spicy Kas

                      Google supports this. I thought it was higher.

                    • grownandsexy2

                      I definitely thought it was higher.

                    • Brooklyn_Bruin

                      What I think of as middle class

                      Suburban house
                      Safe hood
                      Grocery store and shopping nearby
                      Two cars
                      Savings, investments, insurance (health, car, life)

                      That’s not 35k, more like 100+ in many areas and far more in high rent cities.

                      But economists don’t think like me.

                      Under my definition, that’s maybe 20% of us.

                    • Val

                      Also, middle-class can be a state of mind rather than just a financial equation.

                    • Digital_Underground

                      I actually think that’s a problem. A lot of Americans favor political policy on the misguided notion they are middle class. Its why you see working class whites vote for Republicans who support massive cuts to social programs. They don’t think it affects them mainly because they think they are middle class. And they are finding out they are much closer to the bottom than the top.

                    • Val

                      Yep, true, that was kind of my point. But thanks for adding the part about Trump voters. Perfect illustration of the point.

                    • TheUnsungStoryteller

                      Ahhhh…I see.

                    • Spicy Kas

                      My opinion for what’s it’s worth, broke vs. poor is a mindset. Middle class requires a minimum level of coins.

                    • LMNOP

                      True. The socio in socioeconomic background.

                    • Spicy Kas

                      I agree on the 100k. My family growing up was solid middle class. Combined income when I was in high school was about $80k +/-. I graduated high school in 1983 so with inflation . . .

                    • Hugh Akston

                      So by the time you were graduating high school my dad wasn’t even laying game yet…you are a wise old owl lol

                    • Spicy Kas

                      Just old

                    • Brooklyn_Bruin

                      It’s getting harder to get the basics because risk keeps shifting to us, and the top 1% keeps hoarding the rest. Blame Reagan.

                    • Spicy Kas

                      Per CNN, the range for middle class in 2016 was $30k – $350k. Without hesitation I can say I am middle class and will be for the foreseeable future. Related, a different CNN article reflected $350k family income in 2015 would put you in the top 3% for the US.

                    • Brooklyn_Bruin

                      You can’t figure out how to gross $1,000 a day?

                    • Spicy Kas

                      It seems so simple when you put it that way. I had a gig once that was on that trajectory before the financial markets blew up and I found myself in the soup lines.

                    • Me

                      Actually, people tend to have a very poor grasp of wealth tiers in the US. Breaking 6 figures as a household puts you in the upper class, if you’re comparing based on national averages. And suburbs are generally the residences of upper class folks.
                      Top 1% households make $465K+
                      Top 5% make $215K+
                      Top 10% make $135+

                    • Brooklyn_Bruin

                      If you go by quintiles, you can arrive at those arbitrary #’s, but I think regular people think in terms of tangible stuff.

                      My parents both own their homes and have had multiple cars. I make more money than both of them, and have no idea how I could afford that now.

                      I blame all this affirmative action for already rich people.

                    • LMNOP

                      There’s so much regional variation. In a lot of smaller cheaper cities you can buy a house, have a car, and live near a store on $35k a year. But in big cities housing costs are pretty insane, so that throws everything off, it’s comparing apples to oranges.

                    • Brooklyn_Bruin
                    • Me

                      I went by IRS numbers. The thing about “affording” things in modern terms is that many households are leveraged to the teeth in order to purchase things that actually make them one paycheck away from financial ruin. So many people are able to take out loans to purchase suburban or suburb-adjacent homes, multiple vehicles, grade school tuition, etc, on incomes that put them closer to the poverty line than anything else. And many people move in and out of different suburban communities just like poor folks who move from one apartment to the next depending on their most recent financial situation. So for me, it makes much more sense to define classes based on income because you can’t control for spending habits regardless of socioeconomic tier.

                    • Brooklyn_Bruin

                      I’m not suggesting anything extravagant, just what most might describe as the American dream, house, car, and a dog. That was very achievable, but as time goes on, generations are living with less

                    • Me

                      Yea, I definitely agree that folks are living on less, that’s why if you were to scale your parents’ income at your age to today, you actually come out making less than them in terms of spending power. The problem is that the definition of poverty hasn’t caught up to real life. If folks are fighting for $15/hr as a living wage, the poverty line should sit right there, not $20K lower than that per individual, but that’s the reality. So you have households making $30K being told they’re middle class, but in reality, they fall within the bottom 30% of incomes. To me, middle class is the middle third of the country. That’s households that make $36K-81K. Below $36K, to me is working class and poor class.

                    • CrankUpThe_AC

                      With the line separating the middle class and poor being so thin, I’m inclined to lump them all together. Middle class to me are those with some wealth and savings. Income just doesn’t cut it anymore. Middle class is stability. IMO, if you’re life is guaranteed to turn upside down if you lose your job, you aren’t middle class.

                    • Val

                      I think it depends on where you live.

                    • Spicy Kas

                      This is for the US on average. Higher priced cities would need some sort of adjustment. Also note that is the “lower” portion of middle class.

                    • Hammster

                      So did I.

                    • Epsilonicus

                      Thats middle class? Maybe where you live. That salary will have you with two roommates in Baltimore.

                    • Brooklyn_Bruin

                      That’s the national number.

                      You can’t live alone in DC on that after tax salary.

                • Brown Rose

                  I don’t know about anyone else, but you need a car here. I use it for everything including work and the store. Its a necessity.

                  • Brooklyn_Bruin

                    That’s most people with a car. Friday come around and a car owner could be 400 miles away. Come noon Saturday. They just don’t go.

                    People like to stay where they are. It’s human, not financial.

                    • Brown Rose

                      Sure everyone operates in their comfort zone. It can still be financial if you can’t get a new car. if you have to work with your old one because the means isn’t there to upgrade.

                    • Epsilonicus

                      And its not just financial. Travel requires time and convenience. You need to have a job that will let you take the time to travel. You need to make sure the rest of your life is clear enough for you to do so.

                    • Brown Rose

                      Agreed. Many of us can’t join the Leisure Class, which is about access, privilege, and time.

                    • Epsilonicus

                      Exactly. Now that I have a little money, I aint got the time with kids.

                    • LMNOP

                      Not to mention gas for hundreds of miles of driving adds up.

                • Looking4Treble

                  I got sent to Purgatory for adding three x’s in a row to indicate a group that was not explicitly defined, so trying this comment again…

                  And that fear thing is real for a lot of our brethren as well. It still amazes me how some of us will not venture out of our comfort zone, even when we do have the means and the knowledge. ”Black people don’t do that”. If I hear that foolishness ONE mo’ ‘gain…

            • NonyaB?

              What if you looked online, found some things, which led to being interviewed and offered a position and relocation help for a gig abroad in your target industry; would you go?

              • Brown Rose

                I’ve already looked and done the research. My industry is not favorable to portability and access. Among other barriers that include language, certification etc.

                • NonyaB?

                  Gotcha.

          • heh

        • Question

          Was he “talking to” anyone in particular or just relaying his experience? My problem with responses to posts like his is that people expect some degree of universal-appeal to them when in reality, by definition there is some degree of privilege inherent in being able to pick up and move abroad (political, economic, educational etc.). In other words, by definition his post isn’t going to apply to all black folks… it can’t.

          • Brown Rose

            Yes, the author was speaking in generalities. He was talking about a shared experience about being Black, which has a historical precedent of people leaving America to lessen the effects of racism. its natural and organic that other areas of relocation and traveling would also be addressed. Your other claims have already been addressed by others on this thread.

      • Sigma_Since 93

        This is why I tell college students to look at jobs abroad that will assist you with the move.

    • Holy Room

      I absolutely agree, class matters VERY VERY much.

  • miss t-lee

    Thank you for this glimpse into life as an expat.

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