Traveling While Black: What To Do When You’re Stared At Abroad
By Sharelle Burt
No one likes being stared at. Some people consider it rude, though there are others who bask in the fact that people want to look at them. Turns out being stared at is a part of traveling while black.
Back in August, Travel Noire published an article about a young black man named Craig who after moving to Vietnam, noticed that he was constantly being stared at. “One of the biggest things I face being black and abroad, especially in Vietnam, is the staring,” Craig said. “There are not a lot of black people in Vietnam compared to Thailand and Malaysia, so people overly stare at you to a point it becomes uncomfortable.” So TN took to Twitter and wanted to hear from other readers about their experiences with people staring and boy, the responses were hilarious.
One follower reminisced on a time when she was treated like a celebrity when she was in Cuba, making her feel like she was Rihanna with red braids.
Yes! In Cuba I had red braids and you would have thought I was Rihanna the way the people were touching my hair and asking for pics lol made me feel great though pic.twitter.com/Us2ytmLrqO
— FoodHope&Love (@TheHopeAlyssa) October 3, 2018
One of our followers said it depends on how black you are, saying, “the blacker the berry, the more stares you get.”
Depends on how black you are. The blacker the Berry the more stares and requests for photos. It not an insult. It the stark reality of color confrontation. If you have a negative mindset to begin with then you'll be hella paranoid. Im black and tall get stares abroad and at home
— Will Will (@3Will3Will3) November 24, 2018
Another user didn’t take the stares as disrespect but used them to her advantage when her admirer bought her a drink.
Lol. Copenhagen. Not full on stares but coy looks. Some actually came up to me and struck conversation. One Romanian guy bought me a cuppa and we gisted for an hour. I never felt any discomfort. Then again, twas probably my waist-length braids they were curious about too. 😆
— Adiaha Ita/Musings & Adventures (@NYCapricorn) October 4, 2018
Some responses weren’t so funny, though. They were actually downright racist. A reader shared a time when she was in an elevator, and a guy stared while saying racial slurs.
In Turkey i 2weeks ago I was in a elevator with 2turkish men and 1 said to me as I entered "Hello Nigger"… With a smile on his face.. I was shocked, upset, and honestly didn't know how to respond so I just gave a blank stare till I got off
— ikumkanikazi (@darkosipho) October 3, 2018
A lot of Twitter followers mentioned that regardless of what country they were in, residents constantly received compliments on their hair. Some also had to pull a Solange and tell them “don’t touch my hair.”
In Ahmedabad, India, I got a lot of stares & whispers, especially in the malls. My dreadlocks received a lot of love though, compliments & requests to touch. A couple on a date asked for a photo. I'm definitely in their family album.
— Rachael Keeru (@misskeeru) October 4, 2018
Another actually got a job braiding someone’s hair while in the mall.
A girl asked me to braid her her like mine in a mall! They couldn’t stop touching my braids pic.twitter.com/wHU1LwsUFB
— phindi phiri (@PhindiPhiri) October 4, 2018
Clearly, our beautiful skin draws stares no matter where we are.