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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.

  • Hugh Akston

    Love the expat life can’t wait to get back into it…

    If you haven’t done so get yourself a passport and go see the world…

  • Rewind4ThatBehind

    “My American identity, like my passport, was only reserved for trips abroad”

    “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.”

    Well if you put it this way…then it’s time to test this theory out. Because I’m about done with this place, the race politics, and having to define Blackness every time I open my gotdamn mouth.

    • HouseSublime

      Recently traveled to Europe for the first time and can agree that you’re American first and black second to them. I got more questions about America specific behaviors, mannerisms, colloquialisms than questions about or related to blackness.

      • Rewind4ThatBehind

        I believe it. And it would help with my skewed perception of the world.

        Race will be a problem where ever you go but being American is more unique.

  • The whole American Pass thing is real though. Americans tend not to think of themselves as having a distinct identity outside of the hillbillies or rednecks. We tend to think of ourselves as ethnic groups or natives of a particular area. However, once you leave, being American is an obvious thing to outsiders. It’s one of those things we can’t see or leave the same as White people not being White. I’d love to travel and be in the foreign equivalent of a working class area or the hood (where applicable) and feel what that’s really like. There are so many assumptions we have about American Society that just aren’t universal, and I’d like to test them.

    • “…However, once you leave, being American is an obvious thing to outsiders. It’s one of those things we can’t see or leave the same as White people not being White…”

      Shid, I get that just gong to another city. Soon as I open my mouth,…
      “You must be from Philly ” lol

      • LOL I get your meaning.

        Seriously though, because of my line of work, I’ve had a taste of that because of all the immigrants in the sciences. While it’s not all kumbaya on the racial front, I’ve gotten more stuff over the years about being American. One time, I had a Chinese coworker straight up say to me “isn’t it great to grow up speaking English?” Mind you, in most of the world, you have to actually learn English to study a lot of scientific and technical subjects. I was perplexed, then played it off, thinking that I’d rather have her ability to drive around without cops harassing.

        • Out of all our other talents huh, lol.
          #hespeakssowell

  • Val

    There’s something about your eyes meeting someone else’s when something racist happens, especially when that thing is a small slight, and you both know that the other saw it too. I think I’d miss that. And I’d miss having cultural commonality in general. Having each other is a pressure relief valve, IMO. Plus, I love my peoples.

    Anyway, one of my sisters lived her entire adult life in Europe. So, I pretty much knew it wasn’t he\ on wheels for American Black folks. Black folks from the African Continent have a hard time though.

    Also, I would be in line if ever an intentional Black ex-pat community is formed somewhere in the world.

    • The eyes meeting thing…you aint never lied. When a real subtle racist shade is uttered at work , ever so slightly – I have about two people I automatically look to, just as they’re trying to catch my eye. Fists damn near clench like half cocked pistols as we “facial expression debate” on who’s gonna check em first.
      Our people are amazing.

      • grownandsexy2

        I’m jealous. The only BM at my job barely opens his mouth so I can’t connect with him if anything racial goes down. He a BM who likely doesn’t think racism exists. **sigh**

        • Val

          That must be frustrating.

          • grownandsexy2

            I’m used to it now. When I look at him, I see a “white man.

            • Brown Rose

              Until something obviously racial happens to him….then he will be casting about for that racial nod

        • miss t-lee

          Welp. You know who *not* to trust, at least.

          • grownandsexy2

            Yep.

        • We’re thick up in that piece, but its a select few that can switch from “them” to the weather in seconds without missing a beat, when we see em coming.

      • THIS!

    • grownandsexy2

      All of this, Val. All of this. And having worked in all white environments all my life, sometimes being the only person of color, I like not having to look at hoardes of whites everywhere. Sometimes it feels like a noose around my neck. I like coming home to my black neighborhood and seeing black folks.

    • There are healthily sized ones growing in Chiang Mai, Thailand and in Bali ?

  • Time for me to move. How’s the weather over there? Health care popping?

    • From what I understand, the Swiss system can be best explained as Obamacare for everyone. While the poor get their bills covered, everyone else shops with income-appropriate subsidies to get their insurance.

      • It could all be so simpleeeeeee

      • blackheidi

        I am a black American living here and insurance can be hellishly expensive, even with subsidy. So if you are making about 60,000 chf a year (about the same in US dollars) count on paying about 400 chf per month for mandatory insurance.

  • Sigma_Since 93

    If Mrs. SS93 and the j o b would play nice, this would be an awesome experience.

  • Since we on the topic, how many of y’all are fluent in Portuguese? I has questions. I be so pressed to pronounce these words like how they look to me in Spanish just to find out that there’s like some extra “ch” or “guuuuuj” sound.

    Help me.

    • Val

      Planning a trip to Bahia?

      • At first I just got to wanted to learn the language just for the sake of learning but a trip to South America sounds nice!

        Maybe São Paulo first and ill plan the other cities as I go

        • Brooklyn_Bruin

          Sao Paolo isn’t as hype as Rio

          • Sigma_Since 93

            And don’t wear your long hair weave in Rio. I want you to live your best life

          • Do they like black women in Rio?

            • Spicy Kas

              My Trini friend enjoyed Sao Paolo more than Rio.

            • Brooklyn_Bruin

              Rio has a more afro Brazilians than Sao Paolo.

    • Spicy Kas

      Befriend a Cape Verdean.

      • Cape Verdean, Angolan, Mozambiquan Portuguese are different than Brazilian Portuguese which is different than Portuguese from Portugal…

        • Spicy Kas

          My cape Verdean GF was definitely able to understand Brazilian Portuguese.

          • Oh yeah you can understand but it’s not the same.

            • Spicy Kas

              As I’m barely dealing with English, I will bow to your Superior knowledge on the topic (no snark).

              • I didn’t take it that way… I forced myself to learn because I watch Afro-Brazilian movies and reading subtitles gives me a headache… fortunately Spanish helps me and having Brazilian folks to talk to.

      • Hugh Akston

        Very different

      • How many of them live in North Carolina? Please point me towards them.

        • Spicy Kas

          I was corrected below.

    • I am passable in Brazilian Portuguese… I understand it but speak it like Spanish… it’s funny.

      • I’m trying not to speak it like it’s Spanish lol that’s my issue now!

  • nillalatte

    Enjoyed the article. Funny you write about Switzerland as this is my next goal; working for a Swiss company (already identified) and moving to Switzerland – maybe. The company that I’ve identified is Swiss, but they operate all over the world including the Mid-East. Looking forward to new adventures and experiencing different cultures as well.

  • MrsDisturbed

    Hmmm…I would reserve judgement until I know how they treat ALL people who look like me. African immigrants are treated very poorly in most European countries. Being American bestows certain privileges, as you are considered more educated and wealthier than Africans immigrants.

    If you are not down with all of us, I think I’ll stay right the f*ck where I am. Knowing that a simple change in accent or surname would make you treat me differently does not sit well with me. I’m good with my homegrown racism, homie. I’ll pass on overseas racism.

    • miss t-lee

      “Knowing that a simple change in accent or surname would make you treat me differently does not sit well with me. I’m good with my homegrown racism, homie. I’ll pass on overseas racism.”

      What a word, what a word.

    • Sigma_Since 93

      If you want to know how Black folk are treated, watch European Futbol.

      • miss t-lee

        I’ve read too many stories about bananas being thrown at players.
        Bump that.

        • The Spaniards and the Italians are THE WORST.

          • I heard Spain is really special. The Ukraine and Russia has some issues too.

            • While there, I was American and not Cuban if that gives you some perspective.

              • I can believe that. Franco was in power until like 75 their “dark” past isn’t so long ago.

                • and they way they treat Black Dominicans and Cubans make me wonder why the hayle they would ever live there?

          • miss t-lee

            I’ve seen that one Kat in Italy catch all of the heyll.

            • Mario?

              • miss t-lee

                That’s him.

                • From what I know of him he does some black sh** too and refuses to apologize for any of it. I think his girl has a tat of Africa on her neck.

                  • miss t-lee

                    Not mad at this…lol

        • Imagine someone throwing a banana at Lebron or Suh?

          • I imagine that ayus getting rocked…

            • Before the banana barely leaves their hand.

          • miss t-lee

            Mayne.

      • Brown Rose

        Exactly. Exactly. Football Hooliganism is exhibit A right there on how people really feel.

        • The idea of fandom breaking down via politics is crazy.

      • Yeah, they give zero fucks about being blatant with the racism in soccer over there.

      • THIS!

      • MrsDisturbed

        Preach.

        Lot a people wanna go overseas and confirm that what dude is saying is true, as if there aren’t Black folk who have already lived in Europe for generations. You wanna make a Green Book, ASK THEM about how their respective countries have treated black and brown people historically. Many European countries have a history of protest and revolt on the part of people of color that we Americans know nothing about.

    • WORD. If anything, it makes it incumbent to use our relative privilege overseas wisely.

    • Brown Rose

      Also problematic is the current administration that is damaging the American brand. How long before you will be able to coast on American privilege. The British, are going to find that out soon enough as well with Brexit as their passport had a high degree of privilege.

      • “Also problematic is the current administration that is damaging the American brand.”

        This speaks to how effed Donald is because the American brand has been kind of dusty for a while.

        • Brown Rose

          No matter how white people feel here, he is seen much more highly globally. Traveling under the Obama administration was much easier. You were really seen as an ambassador.

    • Brooklyn_Bruin

      You’ll stay home then.

      • Hugh Akston

        Lol ? a buddy of mine really don’t want to travel because he thinks he will get kidnaped by some bearded men smh

        • Spicy Kas

          Tell him nobody, I mean nobody, wants us.

          • Brooklyn_Bruin

            *books trip to Syria*

            • Spicy Kas

              Good luck getting back into the U.S.

              • Brooklyn_Bruin

                Haha.

            • Hugh Akston

              (Will be in Mexico and Japan this year…loves traveling but I hate flying…who will you be flying with?)

              • Brooklyn_Bruin

                American airlines

                • Hugh Akston

                  Oh cool

                  If you ever get the chance try to get a flight with emirates airline

                  • NonyaB?

                    Their service is so nice – like many other foreign airlines, puts many N American ones to shame.

          • Hugh Akston

            I tried he’s not convinced lol

        • IDareYou

          I wonder if that movie Hostel had any effect on travel to Europe.

      • MrsDisturbed

        I can’t read your intentions with this response.

        I am certainly not implying that Black people should never travel. I just have my recriminations about regarding certain countries in Europe as some colorblind utopia when presently, for the people already living there who share our phenotype, it is not.

        • Brooklyn_Bruin

          ” If you are not down with all of us, I think I’ll stay right the f*ck where I am. ”

          Your words, not mine.

          • MrsDisturbed

            That’s fair.

  • Lisss

    You might be considered just American (as opposed to Black American) and it’s important to not forget that privilege. Yes, i said privilege. Being a working, educated, WESTERN black gives you the opportunity to live a very different reality from the African or Caribean immigrant (even if the latter is educated).
    4 months in Istanbul taught me it was easier to say i was Canadian instead of Haitian because 1) it takes too long to explain where Haiti is located, 2) i was seen as less of a threat and even was better treated by some when my canadian status came into play.

    • Holy Room

      Yes it IS a PRIVILEDGE.

      • Lisss

        oops my bad about the spelling mistake

      • Privilege….

        • Holy Room

          Thanks.

    • miss t-lee

      Wow.

    • Rewind4ThatBehind

      Privilege indeed.

    • Sigma_Since 93

      “Being a working, educated, WESTERN black gives you the opportunity to
      live a very different reality from the African or Caribean immigrant
      (even if the latter is educated).

      It’s funny how Western education appears to be the gold standard in some places despite US math, reading, and science scores being garbage when compared to the world.

      • Rewind4ThatBehind

        Even funnier how many Americans are going to Europe in droves for their education.

        • Hugh Akston

          It’s cheaper and at times you may not have to pay much

          One thing that I’ve kept track over the years are the amount of Americans giving up their us passports that number rise every year…but I’m still amazed that the us gov simply increased the fee exponentially and folks still like “be like that I’m still giving good it up” but another aspect that doesn’t even get a mentioned in us foreign policies

          • Rewind4ThatBehind

            It really is a shame how it limits us despite the fact that if you know what to do, it actually won’t cost that much money. Either way though, it shouldn’t be the burden the government has turned it into.

          • Alessandro De Medici

            America is one of the only countries that demands you pay taxes from income made overseas. So if you have a job you like abroad, and don’t want to get abused by Uncle Sam, you’re kind of forced to give it up.

            • Hugh Akston

              That’s what I was mulling over before moving back

              Fatca is a pain

        • Spicy Kas

          A Japanese friend of mine that I met while in college is really debating whether he will allow his daughter to attend college in the States.

          • Brown Rose

            If they need an Ivy–then maybe. They should just go to Germany.

            • Spicy Kas

              “Need” no, not sure what his ego desires though.

              • Brown Rose

                Exactly. The US Ivy’s are about ego. There are world class research universities in Europe that would rival the Ivy’s here.

                • Alessandro De Medici

                  True, but most big name colleges nowadays, not just here, but all over the world, have billions in endowments and treat themselves like businesses. They’re not in the business of “education” but in training people who are either going to win nobel prizes or become rich and famous.

                  • Brown Rose

                    Sure. Research dollars are there to attract talent, fuel costs, when the awards etc. Frankly America dropped the ball, once they continued to siphon away science research, climate change, NASA and allowed hard right theocracy to dictate social policy. Europe is catching up and China will have caught up eventually making American research irrelevant.

          • Brooklyn_Bruin

            Kids will end up hapa

          • Rewind4ThatBehind

            I don’t blame him. He’s almost guaranteed sending his child to a European school would go come with less ramifications. Shoot, even a Caribbean university is better.

          • Diego Duarte

            Personally I wouldn’t. Not only are American universities large, expensive day-care centers, which (more often than not) entirely fail to deliver a quality education, but also they are not safe for women in general. The amount of binge drinking and campus rape is too dmn high for anyone in their right mind to consider sending their daughters there.

            College campus is where the white douchebros and frat boys roam free, getting away with rape (hello Brock Turner!). Compare it to college in Europe or elsewhere where they’re more inclined toward studies and where it won’t be meaningless to attend class with an athlete (because then everyone’s grade get curved thrice over just to guarantee this dude participating in whatever competition the school “needs” him to parcipate on).

            • ClaymoreParamore

              Eh, as someone who studied overseas and had some, shall I say unsavory experiences thanks to some of my black African male counterparts, I kind of have to disagree a bit on that one.

              • Diego Duarte

                Fair enough. Where I studied there wasn’t housing on campus so campus rape was non-existent, also no sorrorities or fraternities.

                • ClaymoreParamore

                  I feel it. I think it’s just easy (not saying you think it’s easy, just the mainstream sentiment) to blame it on white frat bros, when men of all persuasions (and some women too) engage in this stuff all around the world. Establishing a primarily male form of dominance through the act of sexual violence and coercion is an unfortunately global phenomenon (We are more closely related genetically and culturally, if you will, to violent chimps, not to the matriarchal, relatively peace-loving bonobos). So if it’s not happening in a dorm or a frat, please believe it’s happening in an apartment, house, or an academic area.

                  • Diego Duarte

                    Yes, though the “mainstream sentiment” (for lack of a better term is to blame it on white frats bros (who are the ones who get away with rape more often than not), I’m aware perps come in all race and sizes.

                    Thing is the school didn’t have dorms, housing, or even anything remotely related to an academic area. City still had problems with rape, it’s just they didn’t happen on campus because there wasn’t a prevalent culture of binge drinking, lack of adult supervision everywhere, and a glorification of athletes (which is borderline with a cult in the US).

                    • ClaymoreParamore

                      OMG, the cultist worship of student-athletes is so weird to me, especially compared to the damn near non-existence of sports in campus during my studies abroad. Like it’s just weird man lol. That, plus also crap like the NFL combine….just gives me the ickies. Feels like I’m watching a slave auction block (combine and scouts at high school and college games) or some kind of Calvin Candie, Candyland-esque, entertainment show (NCAA basketball and football).

                    • Diego Duarte

                      When your culture is THAT much more dedicated to entertainment than it is to academic success, to the point that most of the tuition increases in the past years have been to pay enormous stipends to football coaches, it’s no wonder your education system is entirely failing.

            • Ms.Moon

              I went to college at 16, colleges with campuses creeped me out. I did not want to have to walk all over a campus and I did not want to deal with an expensive school with an athletic program because I was not a jock and college sports did not matter to me. I got a scholarship to a small liberal arts college, 90% of the guys were gay and it was heaven. The one complaint by most of the girls at my school was that the guys that went there were gay (many were by far prettier than the girls as well) but I was so happy there because I felt safe.

            • Spicy Kas

              This friend went to college in the US and was born in Chicago though moved back to Tokyo in the 7th grade. He has always justed assumed he would send his daughter to the U S for college.

        • NonyaB?

          Why not? It’s free in many (most?) countries there. If time reversed and you had a choice of education by loan (with no guarantee of adequate income to repay after graduating) in N. America or by free+stipend (to cover living expenses) elsewhere, which would you pick? This is one of the nuances hard to quantify when advocating everyone to go abroad at some point (and/or socialize “abroad online” by participating in forums with int’l perspective) – even if you didn’t know about this in time for undergrad, you could use it for grad school (which is even pricier) if inclined.

          • Rewind4ThatBehind

            True indeed madam, no lies spoken here.

            I would have definitely taken my chances abroad had I the choice back then. Even more funny now, New York is advocating for free tuition for undergrads across the board in the whole state for CUNY & SUNY schools. I wish it were for grad school, but I’d gladly take them up on the offer to go for another BA if possible.

            I think it’s important, especially after our generation took the brunt of the increased tuition/student loan wave, for anyone in need to figuring out their future to utilize any avenue to not pay money for higher education.

            • NonyaB?

              I read of the NY law change earlier today; great move!

            • Wandacclark

              Google is paying $97 per hour! Work for few hours & have longer with friends and family! !ft63c:
              On monday I got a great new mclaren f1 from having earned $12778 this last four weeks.. 3 to 5 hours of work a day… Weekly paychecks… Bonus opportunities…Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had.. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
              !ft63c:
              ??
              ???? http://GoogleFinancialCashJobs503TopBuild/GetPaid$97/Hour ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????:::!ft63c:….,….

            • Judithmhicks

              Google is paying 97$ per hour! Work for few hours & have longer with friends and family! !dk21c:
              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
              !dk219c:
              ??
              ??;?? http://GoogleFinancialCashJobs509HomeReadyGetPaid$97/Hour ????????????????????????????????????????????????????::::::!dk219c:….,….

        • Question

          For undergraduate equivalent educations? Or higher ed? Or are you just referring to study abroad opportunities which I would hardly consider “flocking” nor would I consider it indicative of anything other than people’s desire for adventure and experience – rarely driven by education.

          The thing about Western Europe is that private universities where Americans often attend are often seen as “secondary” or inferior to the public universities.

      • Brown Rose

        They’ve covered that by blaming Black people for bringing down the curve and lauding the virtues of the Ivy’s as a foreign magnate for prestige.

      • Lisss

        While looking for a university to attend, i learned that their marketing teams work overtime to give the impression that their diplomas are worth more than they actually are.
        For some universities, foreign students from developping countries are their bread and butter but the faces displayed are nothing but whites.

        • Alessandro De Medici

          You can pretty much say that about any college today…the value of college diplomas, even the ivy leagues are overvalued and inflated…and we’re probably gonna see the bubble crash in our life. Lord have mercy when that happens. We’re gonna have professor strikes and protests like poorer nations do.

      • Spicy Kas

        A Trini friend of mine did his undergrad and masters at Georgia Tech. When he was looking for employment in Trinidad, everyone wanted to know why he hadn’t done University in England.

        • Ms.Moon

          The reason why this happens because it’s more of a lateral transition going from an educational system in Trinidad to England, in Trinidad there is the British system of education it is valued far more than the American system. There is a bit of preference for our former colonial masters, when you go to the “good schools” in Trinidad your “home” accent is not at all appropriate for conversation and there is a veneer of “good British vocabulary” in school or else.

      • Janelle Doe

        [And let us not get started on if you are from an African country and if you are yt and did a 6 week stint in an African country (in terms of who has a better grasp of the place)
        then again we have Jared Kushner so y’all already know what I am sayin’…]

      • American Universities are honestly the truth. We invented in higher education at the right time in history, and it’s paid dividends. Also remember that the biggest issue with American education is its breadth. Overseas, they will shunt people off into vocational tracks or the larger workforce with no mercy. Here, we at least nominally give everyone a chance. As a result, we have a system where our brightest students are smarter than everyone else’s smart kids, but our worse students are worse.

        • Alessandro De Medici

          Universities are structured and biased toward research, as opposed to labor. This has been the case for at least the last 200 years. And since we’ve pretty much eliminated apprenticeship education, a lot of people are in colleges that shouldn’t be. This dynamic infuriates not just the students, but also many of the professors, who don’t want or get paid based on their teaching skills, but their research. Research and teaching are two completely different things, and sometimes they are diametrically opposed to each other.

          Other countries don’t have the ability to fund unreality, like we do, even though in the realm of education, Americans aren’t the only ones guilty of playing this game, we just have more resources to play it better than others.

          • I’ve worked at three major HBCUs and I completely agree with your insight. There’s a definite disconnect between what you’re exposed to as a student vs. the correlation between current studies and future (job/career) goals.

      • TheUnsungStoryteller

        Sooo true!

      • ClaymoreParamore

        Preach on that. My year in South Africa where I studied at University of Cape Town was one of the most intellectually enlightening and rigorous years of any point in my educational career (I went to a “might as well be an Ivy” in the south for undergrad lol and I have a PhD now). Granted some folks see UCT as being basically “western” but that’s another story

    • Me

      I find your last comment funny because in the US, there’s an underlying animosity between black Americans and black immigrants for the same reason. Black natives feel slighted whenever a black immigrant or first generationer gets recognized for any black achievement, with the presumption being that black foreigners get treated better than descendants of US slave by virtue of not being one of those “homebred ninjas”. It’s weird that no matter where we go, there’s no universal black fellowship. There’s always some type of qualifier that toes the line of respectability politics (i.e assumption of education level, wealth, cultural manners, etc).

      • Hugh Akston

        That needs its own post lol

        It’s interesting for those of us who are in between

      • Question

        Here’s a question – why do we expect universal black fellowship? Are our experiences shared? Responses to this article that state the privilege in being Black and Western would suggest no. Are our cultures shared? Definitely not. Are our languages or tribal markers shared? Definitely not.

        So on what basis should we expect a universal. Black fellowship other than by responses by non-Blacks toward blackness (i.e. Racism)?

        • Doug Chu

          Racial oppression. Mutual suffering.

          • Question

            But you can understand why some people would choose to reject unification based on negative experiences with another group…?

            • Doug Chu

              Yes, I do and I understand why it would serve them well. Speaking for myself, I am better served by seeking out unification and solidarity with other minorities. If institutional racism will force us into the same box, we may as well see our freedom as linked.

        • Me

          For me, I don’t believe we have to be culturally identical or have the exact same experiences in order to fellowship over the one or few commonalities that we do share. When we fellowship at church, we don’t expect everyone to lead the exact same walk of life to join in — we simply bond over our common faith. When we fellowship at happy hour, we simply bond over our common professional cohort. Etc, etc. So to only be able to fellowship with other black people who *seem* to have more in common with you than the black folks across the sea silences and negates the commonality that you do have with those other black folks, when the reality is that no matter where we are on this planet, black folks of a variety of walks are being abused and systemically oppressed merely for being black. That is enough for me to feel camaraderie with any black person I meet. I don’t necessarily need to break bread with all of them, but I’m not going to play the “whose black card is more valid” game based on whether I was born in the country I happen to be standing in or not. There’s no singular definition of what it means to be black, therefore I won’t waste my time trying to differentiate myself from someone else’s blackness when the reality is we’re all at a significant disadvantage to our non-black counterparts in every respect. It’s splitting hairs to start internal wars, and none of us need that in our lives.

          • Question

            But what if someone doesn’t want to fellowship over racism and oppression. That is the *only* thing that unites black folks, and even that is relative and inconsistent.

            The older I get the more I believe that automatic Black universal fellowship is unrealistic. Said differently, I often wonder why we expect it rather than take active steps to cultivate said fellowship.

            • Me

              I think when I say fellowship, you’re taking it as actually reaching out to strangers and cultivating a relationship, etc. I’m not saying you necessarily have to befriend every black person you come across. I’m speaking from a much more generic sense of the word, where there’s mutual respect and genuine well wishes for one another based on commonalities. We’re all black, all starting from the same disadvantaged starting point, and can all relate to how difficult life is because people deny our humanity based on our skin color. That’s enough for me to feel a bond with any black person, whether we become friends or not. And that bond is enough for me to stand up for that black person when necessary, give kudos and celebrate with that black person whenever that black person accomplishes something significant, etc. And I expect it for the same reason I expect to be able to fellowship with women over common experiences, or people in my age group, or people of my religion, etc. Human beings naturally seek out similarities among one another to become closer and build communities to survive.

              • Alessandro De Medici

                I think a good amount of of it is generational, but I do know a lot of Africans and Caribbean parents, view American culture, which includes African American culture, as threatening to their own, and thus raise their kids not to mess with others; and even when they do permit it, it’s supposed to be on a very superficial level, there can’t be any open intimate relationship with people from other groups.

                Over here in Mass, this is a big thing with Ghanians in the city of Worcester, the Nigerian community in Houston is very similar as well, although probably not as blatant due to the size. But yeah, there are a lot of people, in the name of defending and protecting their cultural norms, will and do go out of their way not to mess with others, and it’s not just on a racial level… a lot of times though, it is.

            • D-Nice

              “I believe that automatic Black universal fellowship is unrealistic.”

              Speaking of the black community in the United States specifically, I agree. BUT, I tend to think of any racial/cultural community as having two-tiers. There is the “community” that rises in opposition to something or in support of something – e.g., black people against racism, discrimination, police violence, media representation etc. That’s real – it affects all of us. We don’t have to individually have a lot in common other than the color of our skin to rally around such causes and generally see ourselves as part of the same community in those instances.

              And, then there is the intra-community – just black folks among themselves. Of course wide swaths feel kinship, brotherhood and sisterhood towards a considerable segment of other black folk. But, “universal fellowship” in this context – when just among ourselves, of course isn’t realistic. When groups are left alone – they’ll have the sort of divisions, personal animosity between individuals, etc. that ANY group has. Again, this is not to say that there isn’t a substantive degree of fellowship/brotherhood. Just that it naturally falls short of being “universal.” And, I’ve seen this in ALL groups.

      • Alessandro De Medici

        It’s easier to understand this phenomenon when you know the politics of the nations these people come from. If people aren’t fellowshipping on a domestic, intra-level, it makes no sense for it to happen on an inter-level.

        To me that’s always been the intellectual flaw of a lot of African leaders who took over Africa after the decline of colonization. The dream of pan-africanism, was something that had appeal to revolutionaries and Africans who had grown up abroad, infuriated that they could not be accepted by whites, despite their education (this still exists today), but the dream was never that much convincing to most Africans, and perhaps, never will be.

    • ClaymoreParamore

      Also Malcolm Gladwell did an amazing piece in the 90s about this “native black” vs “foreign black” issue. Just a quote teaser: “After I had moved to the United States, I puzzled over this seeming contradiction–how West Indians celebrated in New York for their industry and drive could represent, just five hundred miles northwest, crime and dissipation. Didn’t Torontonians see what was special and different in West Indian culture? But that was a naïve question. The West Indians were the first significant brush with blackness that white, smug, comfortable Torontonians had ever had. They had no bad blacks to contrast with the newcomers, no African-Americans to serve as a safety valve for their prejudices, no way to perform America’s crude racial triage.”

      Article here: http://gladwell.com/black-like-them/

    • GenevaGirl

      I’ve lived in Geneva for 16 years and am married to an educated, black Jamaican man. This statement does not ring true at all in Geneva. There are hundreds of educated black folks from all over the diaspora working in professional jobs here. The difference here is that Geneva is home to the UN and myriad NGOs. It helps that the UN and NGOs have to hire from all of its members. So, black folks, Asian folks, Latinos and everybody else with credentials can work there.

      It is, however, not as common for black folks to work in private industry as my husband does (and I hope to do again). People come from all over the world to work here. Now, if you’re black without credentials, that would be just like anywhere else.

      True, people here don’t know where most of the Caribbean islands are, but if they are confused about Jamaica, we just say Bob Marley or Usain Bolt and get instant recognition. On the other hand, most Americans couldn’t find countries like Turkey on a map, so don’t get your feelings hurt that they don’t know where Haiti is.

    • Annalise Keating

      “Edit: i forgot to add the tendency to pitch “foreign black” against “native blacks” in an effort to have you believe you’re “special” since you’re holding a passport from a western country. Usually what it really means is this ” we can be nice to you cause you’re leaving soon and contributing to our economy during your stay. them other niqqas tho…we dont like ’em ”

      So much truth, so much wisdom…I can’t upvote this enough!

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