Minority Travelers' Forum: 2007
Have any guidebooks been particularly helpful? Are there any places in Europe you'd discourage other minorities from visiting? How do you deal with stares or "special" treatment in areas that rarely see a minority or mixed-race couple? Please share your minority-related European travel tips and anecdotes here.
- Please don't post questions here. Use our Travelers Helpline.
re: travelling abroad
I just had a good chuckle at what NYC said, "Spainsh people concider themselves Europeans and not hispanic or latin."
Well of course Spaniards are Europeans, what did you think they were? Mexicans? For the record Latin is not a "race" its a language spoken by the Romans, and its used to describe other languages that descend from Latin. (Spanish being one of them). The term "Latin" America was first coined by the French in the 19th century to justify their own colonial ambitions in South America again to imply French and Spanish relation to the Latin language (Roman). The term "Hispanic" atleast in the Americas is a generic term used to describe lands and cultures that were once part of the Spanish empire.
Well I'm done with the history lesson, just had to get that out. I just find it funny that when Spanish is mentioned most Americans automatically think Mexican. LOL Think outside the box Americans "European" is not just Germanic speaking Scandinavians!
Torrance, Ca USA Tue 01/01/2008
I must say I have found all of the comments here interesting. Here is my 2 cents worth.
Europe as a whole is changing and as a black person you will find good and bad out there. Having lived in the UK for the past 2 years and having access to world news I was shocked to hear of the racism that still occurs in parts of German especially during the world cup last year. The German police/ organizers of the event were issuing maps to non-whites pointing out a safety zone for them (I can say I saw one with my own eyes.)
I did not have any problems in Italy I had a wonderful time. You do get a few admiring glances but it becomes flatering after a while.
Spain falls into 2 camps south of spain very friendly, north of spain a bit more of a challenge. Spainsh people concider themselves Europeans and not hispanic or latin. once you get that you will be fine. Try out your spanish no matter how silly you sound it breaks the ice Gracias goes a long way.
The UK is up for grabs at the moment. What you will experience is more anti-american sentement due to the political and economical climate at the moment so my fellow ethnic groups don't think it's you ALL americans are getting the cold shoulder at the moment.
Paris is a love it or hate it place. I found not problems there. If you speak a bit slower in English you should get by okay. You may find people a bit abrupt and short but that's paris.
Ireland was a mixed bag for me. Dublin awesome I felt right at home. traveling further south and west you will get racism big time. Store keepers will ignore you or follow you around, you get really dirty looks on the street as well.
South american is fine as long as you get used to things taking a little longer. Buenos Aires was not the best in customer service when I went but otherwise fine they do party hard. Rio again very comfortable but crime is high stay on the main street dress down very little jewelery.
Middle east travel was a great experience for me as well. The people are very friendly and are eager you have a good time when visiting as hospitality is a huge part of their culture. Contrary to popular opinion I did not have to cover my head when there but conservative dress is very appreciated.
As for asia have not been yet.
To sum it up, travel have fun enjoy your experiences good and bad. Remember you are not in American and things are different so be prepared. travel with the things you know you cannot do without (tylenol, your favorite gum, soap, cold medicine, shower caps very important) those little creature comforts that are important to you. Or be willing to try and accept the local remedies. I cannot tell you how grateful I was when one night a girl in the group was traveling with drank tooo much and the bar tender gave her his local remedy and within 15 minutes she was 50% better.
Life is to short not to live it. ENJOY THE ROADS LESS TRAVELLED.
Nyc USA Sun 12/02/2007
To Oneita and Zack
To Oneita and Zack
Thanks for the comments. As a Black female, I have a yearning to travel, but hold very grave concerns about traveling while Black. I have experienced enough racism in America to last me a lifetime, thus it is quite fatiguing having to put on another set of amour for groups that are not American and will treat you badly because of race.
I do plan on traveling eventually, but I am not going to assume that there is a Utopia overseas, especially after dealing with America's myopic racism. Still I find your comments uplifting and look forward to seeing Italy and Cambodia's art and architecture up close.
Miami, FL USA Wed 11/21/2007
i'm asian-american and i just got back from the czech republic and poland. the polish are the friendliest and most helpful people i've ever encountered. this despite my being a minority... i've been to switzerland, spain, the netherlands and belgium -- and the polish are at the top of my list!
tx USA Sun 11/11/2007
I am an Asian-American woman in my 20s, and have spent significant amounts of time in various parts of Germany, and speak the language very well. I am currently living in Berlin. Until this trip I would characterize my experiences with race/ethnicity/gender and most Germans by a sometimes uncomfortable curiosity with many (false) assumptions, but nothing dangerous or even remarkable enough to dampen my enjoyment of the country. I would say it is similar to white American comments, though Germans tend to me more direct with their questions and non-white people are more of a novelty, so they tend to see Asian Americans more like immigrants and tourists from Asia rather than from the US. So, as I said, until this trip. I want to make clear that I think most Germans are tolerant, friendly, and open to visitors from other cultures. If you are thinking a vacation or short visit, I definitely recommend it. I don't think that the follow comments apply to tourists. However, living here has been a little different. While on the subway with another Asian woman, speaking in German, a homeless man stopped his music playing to tell us (in English?) to go home, they didn't want us in Germany. Returning from a soccer game, I was with a white Am. woman and we received harassing calls from teenage boys in fake Asian and English sounding voices. I also often overhear racially inclined comments from people on the street who don't realize I understand them. And, it is impossible for me to ignore the constant reports of physical attacks on minorities or the presence of barricades and police surrounding anything connected with Jews. In Berlin, this has definitely given me an eerie sense of discomfort. I think that in a strange way, non-German speaking tourists have the luxury of tuning out most of the petty harassment and appearing a little hapless as all tourists do, but German-speaking minorities who appear too comfortable here seem to raise the specter of wanting to stay and that is when I have encountered a change in disposition. I would also echo earlier comments that this is much more likely to occur with Asian and Muslim appearing people, who have a larger residential population in Germany.
Berlin, USA Sat 10/20/2007
African-Americans traveling in Italy...
My husband and I just got back from a wonderful 16 day vacation in Italy. We had a beautiful and awakening experience while vacationing there. We stayed in a little town in Tuscany call Montecatini, where the people were exteremly well dressed and very friendly.
We also visited the towns of Siena, Lucca and my favorite, San Gimignano. We purchased some olive oil and nuts in Vinci from an older woman who owned a little roadside stand. She spoke very little English, but was very nice and sweet to us . She even gave us samples of some of the products that she was selling.
From there we traveled to Pisa, Assisi and Rome and never had a problem with any of the people there. We also travelled to the Southern part of Italy to Meta, Naples and Sorrento and the people once again were very kind and helpful to us.
We adventured out on our own in Sorrento and hung out with locals and the people were always repectful,very warm and friendly.
We even made friends with a few Italian people who promised to e-mail us so that we could stay in touch.
African-Americans, please save your money and travel the world. Most of us are afraid to go outside our commnunity and don't ever considered leaving the country that enslaved us for hundreds of years.
I am encouraging African-Americans to please educate yourself by seeing the world. You will find that you are loved and treated with more respect abroad then you are treated in your own backyard.
Oneita and Zack
Los Angeles, CA USA Sun 10/14/2007
I wouldn't put Scandinavia in the same list as the others, it's a modern, liberal part of the West and very egalitarian, especially Sweden. Granted there has been a little tension in the last few years integrating immigrants but for a person of colour I still think it's relatively one of the best places to be a minority.
As far as Greece, I went there as a child with my parents in the 80s (we are of Indian descent) and I remember people being very friendly, but can't say much about it now.
Then as far as the Eastern European countries you mention: I have been to Prague and found it to be not very different to most West European capitals, they have had visitors coming for such a long time they have become quite cosmopolitan and don't even blink at seeing a person of colour. Don't know about outside the city though. Being of Indian background I was worried too about the "gipsy" tag, but nobody ever mistook me for one, I guess it's in the way you dress, walk, etc. And even if people were gipsies, nobody seemed to be overtly harassing them, at most they were avoiding them.
Haven't been to Hungary, but a friend of mine based out there was flying his (black) girlfriend over from London to Budapest every other weekend, and she loved it out there. He told me there was no problem.
Don't know about Poland, but that seems to be the country I hear most about with regards to parochial or xenophobic attitudes. But of course the major cities with lots of tourist activity are probably fine: Krakow, Warsaw, etc.
I get the impression that while the old Communist countries haven't quite caught up to the West in terms of open-mindedness (not just in terms of race, but for example sexual orientation, women's equality, etc), the people in Central European countries - the Czech Republic, Hungary, Bulgaria - were a lot friendlier than the people in Eastern European countries (Poland, Latvia, Estonia). But that's just my take on it.
London, UK Fri 08/24/2007
Response to Iceland Post
I hope I am not too late. I am an African-American female (often mistaken for Latino or Indian because of my coloring). I traveled to Iceland in 2004 and I had a wonderful time. I was with my mom and step-father, who are both white, so I am unsure if that played a role. In any event, the folks there were very friendly, especially in Reykjavik and on the open land (which there is a lot of). I even saw another very young bi-racial girl living in the area. That being said, the only place I experienced some pretty frightening major problems was in the Pingvellir, where we went to see the original Althing (the first parliament, which is quite beautiful since you see where two plates on the earth collide). In any event, we went to a fancy restaurant in the area. Most folks were dressed up but quite a few were dressed down, as they had been hiking all day as we had. I was shocked and humiliated when the older, gentlemanly-looking host sat us all down and blatantly gave my mom, stepfather and sister a menu and completely ignored me. If they were out of menus, it's typically customary to give them to the older folks. I was in my mid-twenties and my sister (who is also caucasian) was only 13 at the time). However, I am not sure if this was a product of that environment, the man himself or something else. I made a stink and the waitress, who was very nice, gave me a menu and went to speak with the guy. I still completely don't understand what happened.
However, I will say this: that particular event was one experience, and I do not believe in basing my trip on just one. Overall, people in Iceland were incredibly warm, though shy (not as social as in other parts). We stayed in small towns and in Reykjavik, and most folks were incredibly nice.
Also, the landscape is beautiful! You will never see earth like that again (Iceland is one of the newest land masses on earth)...and folks there are open. They let you walk on their land and enjoy the beauty. Also, there are very few restricted areas, so you can walk on glaciers! Amazing!
New York, NY USA Thu 08/23/2007
Coworkers and I have been discussing European travel (none of them have been yet, but I've gone 'cross the pond 4 times), and they want to know which countries are the least 'racist' as far as African Americans. I look biracial, Hispanic to some, ? to others and even Arabic to many, but am black. I had no issues in Austria, Germany, Italy, France, England, Spain, Monaco, Liechtenstein, Holland, Belgium, or Switzerland. I am thinking of visiting Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, and perhaps Greece or Scandinavia sometime soon and am wondering (uneasily) if I should go or return to my fave cities. I know a lot of people hate Gypsies in most of Europe, and am afraid I may be mistaken for one. Please send replies directly to my email, I welcome any and all suggestions.
Charlotte, NC USA Thu 08/23/2007
European reception of people of color
I'm white and my husband is African American, and we've done a lot of traveling together. It seems there are two separate issues: whether you'll feel like the "only one," and how people will react to you. These don't always coincide the way one might expect, and in fact can be a trade-off.
It's true that if your racial/ethnic group is a fairly small/nonexistent part of the local population, people may be more open, have less of a history of prejudice, not be competing for jobs, etc. So while you may feel the discomfort of standing out, folks may actually be friendlier. My husband and I traveled in Wales where black people are pretty thin on the ground (except in parts of Cardiff), and people were incredibly friendly. On the other hand, we've traveled in the Caribbean where black is the norm, and people weren't always friendly (though they mostly were). My husband had the impression that black people in the tourism industry seemed to "get" having to wait on me, but why should they have to wait on him? We have no way of knowing what they were really thinking, of course, but there was a certain chill in the air.
Having said that, we've really had no trouble traveling throughout Europe, the Caribbean, even Zimbabwe and South Africa. Mixed couples should be alert and reasonably cautious, just as you would at home. But go, be polite, be beautiful Americans and people will love you.
Seattle, WA USA Wed 08/22/2007
Lots of people have mentioned the "staring" problem, and how you don't always know why people are looking at you.
My husband (black) and I (white) were in Rome once, and he noticed a guy staring intently at me. Hubby assumed the man had a thing against mixed couples, till he figured out the guy was actually staring at my breasts.
You just never know.
Seattle, WA USA Wed 08/22/2007
I'm planning a trip to Malta in November. I'm an African-American male. Recently I borrowed a number of travel guides from my local library. One in particular adresses the issue of color and race. And after reading that section it has gotten me slightly worried. Nonetheless I'm still going. Has anyone been to Malta and could they please share the experience?
brooklyn, ny USA Tue 08/14/2007
Travel With Kids
This is my first post. I wanted to share my recent experiences in Europe. I took my 2 daughters (7 & 15)and a friend of my teenage daughter to Europe for 3 and 1/2 weeks. We visited London, Geneva, Venice, Nice, Barcelona and Paris. Rick's guide books were a great help. We were traveling solo. We had an excellent adventure. I think the most important things are: have the right attitude, do lots of research, expect the unexpected and try to speak the local language. I must repeat...try to speak the local language (in a pinch-point to the phrase after you mangle it).
We traveled by train from country to country and had fun sleeping on the night trains. I did make a mistake and booked a 6 person couchette (instead of our T3 and T4). You should have seen our faces when 2 teenage guys joined us one evening. My other point is teenagers like to sleep late. Plan accordingly.
We did get some stares but it was rare. On a train-if there were 30 people in a car we might notice one person staring for the entire day. Ssome days, we took 2 or 3 trains or subways. We would either look back, look back and smile, or ignore. There may have been more but we did not notice. We were enjoying ourselves too much. We attracted some interest. We had quite a few pleasant encounters with locals and tourists from other places.
The other point. If you are traveling by train. Pack light!!!!!
We all have kick-behind muscles in our arms. My daughter has named her biceps "Thunder" and "Buff". And we packed pretty light. One carry on per kid. I had the next size up because mommy had the clothes line, medicine, alarm clock, snacks, first aid kit, travel books/ripped pages, etc.
Hope you have a great trip too.
Fayetteville, Ga USA Sun 08/12/2007
Belgrade and Montenegro
I was told that I should not travel to Montenegro and Belgrade, Yugoslavia because of the heavy racism that I would encounter. I am a black female (age 32, but look 22). I would be traveling alone for personal reasons or on a tour group (can anyone suggest a tour company that goes to that country?), as I'm that adventurous. Has anyone traveled to these places? If so, what were your experiences?
Sacramento, CA USA Sat 08/04/2007
RE: QUESTION: Can any blacks tell me what it is like in Sicily? I have heard some things that didn't sound great, but that region of Italy looks so beautiful that I would love to experience it. Is it worth it? If you've been there, please let me know.
My best friend and I (we're both Black Americans) traveled to Palermo a couple of years ago. The experience was memorable, the island is breathtaking, the food and wine are to die for. Sicily has a number of Arab, Indian, and African immigrants. While my friend and I were stared at, victims of a botched seduction by a restauranteur and his waiter, followed by two lascivious pursuers in a museum, and called nera, bella and such... we didn't have any negative experiences at all.
Sicilians tend to be wary at first, but were very helpful when asked for directions and such. The wariness doesn't come from being racist at all, I don't think. The Sicilians weren't sure where we were from (many guessed Brasil, French Caribbean, and England first) and would ask us "da dove?" When we answered "Stati Uniti" we weren't met with anything but kindness and more questions about the U.S.
I'd be willing to wager that not too many Black people from the United States visit Sicily. More should though. ;-)
Hartford, CT USA Sat 07/28/2007
My husband and I, both African American, were in Palermo in June 2007. There is absolutely nothing to be concerned with. There is a small 'darker skinned' presence (no matter the nationality or race) in Palermo. We saw many merchants and families conducting everyday life. We even saw a beauty shop catering to black hair. Not one stare - Not one person who treated us "differently". Go and enjoy!
Chesapeake, VA USA Sat 07/28/2007
Reply to Christmas in Florence
I was in Italy during the Christmas holidays last year and I had a great time. Christmas Eve you will find that many restaurants will close early, some will claim they will be open, but when you get there, they are not open. So call first.
Christmas Day in Rome wasn't bad at all. By lunchtime lots of restaurants were open, people were out walking the streets. Expect Florence to be pricey and crowded. But if you are there for an extra day, book a cooking/wine tour with Accidental Tourist. That was a great experience. Dress warm, Florence will be cold and wet. Stay long enough for the after Christmas sales and splurge on a designer something.
Washington, DC USA Fri 07/20/2007
Spain is not horrible!
I spent six weeks in Madrid in 2005 and a week in Paris. I also took a day trip to Toledo.
I went my brother and stayed with a host family. We are African-American. I can say that the stares made me uncomfortable ( I felt self-conscious) when I first when went to Madrid but after a while I stopped noticing. Sometimes I would stare right back at people and they would continue to stare. I knew it wasn't racism, they were just curious. While I guess there were some racist people there, I basically ignored them or I never experienced overt racism. Overall, I never really experienced problems in Madrid. Everyone that I interacted with seemed pleasant enough or indifferent enough.
I didn't really dress like an American. In the USA my outfits are considered "weird" because of my choice of colors, the fact that I don't wear shorts, sneakers (except for exercising), or t-shirts but it turns out I dress like a normal European, lol. I never used a fanny pack, I bought a purse when I was in Spain. I never felt threatened by anyone either. But then again, I really didn't roam the streets at night.
Once my brother and I were looking at a map, and and a friendly woman helped us find our destination. Another time when I was leaving for the airport, a woman told me to switch seats with her on the metro so I could hold my luggage and sit comfortably.
Once I tried to cross the street where there wasn't a crosswalk (stupid I know) and a woman held me back and told me to follow her because I almost got hit by a truck (not smart).
I didn't experience any problems on my day trip in Toledo. People looked at me because I was different not because I was black and that's if they looked at me at all.
Paris was great! I never had any problems there, however I mainly stayed in the tourist areas where they are used to seeing all kinds of people.
I'm going to spend a year in Barcelona and while I'm a little nervous from what I've heard, I also know that racism is everywhere. I live in the South, I've heard hurtful comments and experienced hostility. It won't be anything new, or at least it shouldn't be.
I'm also going to dress with a little more American flair just in case.
Feel free to contact me!
Girl from ATL
Atlanta, GA USA Thu 07/12/2007
travel to iceland
hi everyone, i'm a black canadian female who will be traveling by myself to iceland in late august. has anyone else been to iceland and if so, what was your experience?
Toronto, Canada Fri 07/06/2007
re: Julie Often, tourist attractions do have shorter hours and a few may be closed in the winter, but you don't have the crowding and waits that you do at peak season. Also, many things are often cheaper(excluding just before christmas) in an off season. Also, you do get the "real europe" as it's mostly just the locals and not hordes of tourists.
USA Tue 07/03/2007
Need feed back tentative Itinerary for Western Europe
My friend and I are planning to travel to Europe in May of 2008. We are single, African American female looking to spend 17 days traveling around Western Europe. We have at tentative Itinerary and we would like get some feed back and suggest on this Itinerary and place to go when we are in these cities.
We plan to start in
London, England (we plan to take the euro train to Paris)
Paris (we plan to fly to Barcelona from Paris)
Barcelona (we plan to fly from Barcelona to Rome)
Ending back in London
Boston , MA USA Tue 07/03/2007
Christmas in Florence, Italy
Christmas in Florence
Hello, I've posted this message in another forum but I did not get any responses so I'm trying my luck at posting here in the minority forum.
I am a black female thinking of spending Christmas in Florence. I've heard that Christmas in Florence could be quite boring with lots of museum closings, overpriced food at restaurants that elect to stay open. Any thoughts from fellow travelers? It is still early I can change to another country but I need to get a good idea of what to expect.
NJ USA Mon 06/25/2007
I have had interesting experiences in my travels. I am african american mixed with puerto rican and a bit of chinese. I was rather impressed by the locals. They took in my fabuolous appearance and commented on my delectible cravate. Happy travels!
Montevideo, USA Wed 06/20/2007
I have traveled on a Rick Steves Tour to Greece and had a wonderful time. No one treated me bad at all, the people were really friendly. I noticed the people who received the most stares were the blondes in the group because you rarely see blondes in Greece. I am black and filipino with brownish complexion and believe me I do stand out. Go and enjoy Greece. They are so laid back.
Germany Mon 06/11/2007
I lived in Germany for two years. When I first arrived, I received the stares that has already been mentioned, but that was more curiosity about me being American than anything else. There are A LOT of people of color in Germany. There are a number of military bases, resulting in interracial marriages. As for the dress. Germans, dress very European. When they walk around downtown or are out and about they dress as if they really have someplace important to go. I didn't see too much skin displayed unless it was at the club. But they do wear jeans (with heels, not sneakers) and they dress very chic. Skinheads are usually closer to the Berlin area (or they used to be.)Overall Germany is a beautiful, reserved, conservative and genuine country. Enjoy it!
USA Fri 06/08/2007
Help. Need Germany INFO
No one is saying much of Germany. I'm a hispanic woman, but I look African American. My boyfriend is white German. I will be traveling with him to Germany soon for the first time. I heard there are not barely anyone that looks like me. So I'm worried about racism. Can some one tell me what areas of Germany would not be good for me, and which areas would be okay, also why? Has anyone experienced racism in Germany? I heard there are still skinhead gangs around that mess with tourist. Is this true? Also how do women dress there? I always wear pants. I never wear short skirts or shorts. But my thing is jeans. Do German women wear jeans alot there? Anyways my big concern is my tops. I have a tendency of wearing tops that show off my breast, sometimes not on purpose because of their size. Do tops like that offend Germans? Please, someone give me some advice on German. Mostly around Christmas time because that's when I'll be going. Thank You.
USA Sun 06/03/2007
I am a African American woman who will be traveling to Portugal at the end of June. I would like to know if anyone has any tips, experiences or advice that they would like to share.
Nashville, MI USA Thu 05/31/2007
I traveled to Portugal and Spain in 1999. I visited Nazare, Lisbon, Obidos, Tavira, Alcobaca for the Portugal part of the trip. I stayed in the hotels recommended in Rick's book. I had a wonderful time and found the Portugese to be extremely friendly and receptive. We were asked to stay at a lot of residences when we arrived in the various bus stations and just talked to a ton of people wherever we went. I don't equate people staring with racism, they may not have seen a Black American before. I did not have a single negative experience so go and enjoy! HTH
Chicago, IL USA Thu 05/31/2007
Mixed Womans travel experiences
I am a mixed person, black and white. I have traveled all through Europe independently without any serious problems. I have been followed throughout stores by security in southern Spain and found that people stared at me constantly while traveling through Eastern Europe. I could have interpreted this as racist, but I think many people stared at me because they were not used to seeing someone who looked so different from them.
As a person of color you may come across situations where you feel uncomfortable.Don't let fear rule your life and keep you from experiencing wonderful sights and the opportunity to connect with extraordinary people from around the world.
Honestly,I faced more discrimination/racism within my own country than I have ever dealt with abroad. There are always going to be those few jerks no matter where you go...learn to ignore them and don't waste your energy worrying about what they think of you.
CA USA Wed 05/30/2007
madrid for indian
hello. my heritage is indian. i was born in england and live in london. i am due to travel to madrid in august. would like to know of indians' experience of madrid. thanks.
london, UK Mon 05/28/2007
I'm sorry I actually laughed after reading Noel's post. Holland is probably about as non-problematic as you can get as far as social attitudes. It's one of the most tolerant countries in the world.
L.A., CA USA Sun 05/27/2007
The Netherlands has one of the highest minority populations in Europe. I think something like 10-15% of the population is non ethnic Dutch. I think the percentage is even higher in Amsterdam. Go, you will be fine. It's one of the places I feel instantly at home when I get off the plane from London (and they are so fluent in english, sometimes you forget its a second language for them.
They can be a little bit cliquey towards non-dutch speakers, but that is applied regardless of race. I had white french friends who worked there and felt a little bit excluded. On the hand if you're a dutch person of ethnic origin, ie you speak the language - no problem! you're one of them. Anyway, I don't think you would even notice this unless you were going to be spending a considerable of time there, for example working or studying.
London, UK Fri 05/25/2007
Scared of Amsterdam?
Thanks for all the help with my inquiry. However, my girlfriends bailed on our vacation & in a wild fit I booked a flight to Amsterdam on SKYSCANNER.COM (realized later that I'd confused the pound with the Euro!). I'll be traveling on my own for the 1st time & I'm so scared that I'm almost on the verge of using my cancellation insurance. My mother thinks I'll be lynched, but I don't think it will be a bad experience or I wouldn't have booked...I guess. Did I mention that I mixed up the Euro & the pound? I went to Paris last year & it was a breeze. There were lots of dark faces and locals were surprised at my horrible (read: nonexistent) French! As to Amsterdam, I'm still freaking out, but I intend to stay in a nice hostel, be friendly, as usual, & hopefully will have a great time. I want to get over this fear of traveling to countries with no/little diversity & being attacked/"frozen out" because of my skin color. I don't think it happens very often, but I sometimes worry about being that "statistic". I think travel is a good cure/reality check for this. I'm convinced. Amen. :-D
Toronto, Canada Thu 05/24/2007
Traveling To Italia
My husband and I are planning a trip to Italy this October. I decided to join a pen pal website, so that I could meet some new friends before we go.I met a very nice lady who is going to take me shopping and show me around the city of Rome. Just an ideal for those who are planning on traveling and would like make some new friends.. Always, of course, use your common sense when traveling in a strange country.
Los Angeles, CA USA Wed 05/23/2007
Ireland and Portugal
I've been to both Portugal and Ireland. Portugal was great,it's a wonderful friendly country you will see many people of color especially in the larger cities. Ireland was fine, I even went north to Belfast. Just go and have a good time. Someone asked about Sicily, I found Southern Italians to be a little rude, but then I observed that they were brusque to their own people. My sister also went there, but she goes first-class all the way and found the people to be charming and accomodating.
Long Island, NY USA Tue 05/22/2007
hi Noel. I can't comment on the Algarve or Barcelona. All I would say is that as well as being part of a minority you are also AMERICANS, The day an American doesn't receive a warm welcome in Ireland ( either north or south ) will be the day the Queen gives up Buckingham Palace and takes a job as a pole dancer in a strip joint.
Nottingham, UK Fri 05/18/2007
One rule don't go to barcelona if you don't know spanish, because they don't they only speak their language and they call themselves kathalonias so they have an own language similiar to spanish and if you are not one of them your a nobody
But the girls where nice tough friendly, kind, at least myexpirience as a boy (I don't know if they're like that with outside girls)
leave your girlfriends at home if you visit barca
Antwerp, belguim Fri 05/18/2007
Can any blacks tell me what it is like in Sicily? I have heard some things that didn't sound great, but that region of Italy looks so beautiful that I would love to experience it. Is it worth it? If you've been there, please let me know.
USA Thu 05/17/2007
Barcelona, Algarve, Ireland
My girlfriends and I plan to go to Spain (Barcelona), Portugal (Algarve) or Ireland in July 2007. We are all minorities ("black", Indian & half Asian) so we are wondering if there are any cities we should avoid. I read in an older post on this board that Northern Ireland & Spain aren't so great for minorities. Only a month and a half to go, so HELP! :-D
Toronto, ON Canada Thu 05/17/2007
Black in a Small French Town
I am planning my first trip abroad this summer to a small town in southeastern France. Although I'm completely excited, I have a nagging worry that I might encounter a few *problems* with the locals. As a black woman, should I have any particular concerns or worries?
CA USA Wed 05/09/2007
South America travels
I spent near 3 months in Argentina about 10 years ago.You will not have any racial problems there.Like in many European countries Argentines do like to people watch, so you can expect to have lots of stares.Don't be alarmed,its only because they are curious about you.Enfact being one of a handful of Black Americans in Argentina will win you over tons of new friends and invitation to dinner or drinks as long as you are the friendly type.Happen to me so often during my time there.Not many Black people living in Argentina,I encountered just a few African American tourist who I befriended, and met a few African American basketball players who were cut by nba teams and then picked up by professional ball clubs in Buenos Aires.So you will stand out but in a Rock Star type way.I had a few people who thought I was Mike Tyson,even though we look nothing alike.The people and the cities of Buenos Aires,Mendoza and Cordaba were amazing.Prepare your self to have the experience of your life.Argentines are very warm and romantic people.I can honesty say to be a African American is a HUGH plus in Argentina.Your biggest safety concern will be the same in any large city which is crime.Use common sense when flashing money or bling.There are economic problems in South America.There is no middle class to speak of,only those who have a great deal and those that have very little.Don't be shocked if you have such a great time that moving to Argentina becomes an idea!
Sanford, Fl USA Wed 05/02/2007
Black Paris Resource
A worthwhile online resource for African Americans in Paris or anyone interested in discovering Paris from a multicultural perspective is Cafe de la Soul * Your Black Paris Portal http://cafedelasoul.com
USA Wed 05/02/2007
Hi everyone, I have travelled around central and north america and various pacific islands and I can't think of any major race issues I have been faced with. I am mixed black and white and on most of my travels I have been able to blend in with the locals. I'm nervous now because I'm going to Chile and Argentina and I haven't heard very positive feedback from darker visitors. Has anyone been to the more european countries of S.America? what was your experience like?? Thanks so much!
San Fran, USA Tue 05/01/2007
Black Paris Nightlife
I am in Paris all the time and while I am pass the age of nightclubs and hanging out, I can assure that in Paris you will not feel like the "only one". Paris is probably the most diverse city in Europe.
NYC, USA Mon 04/30/2007
Black Paris Nightlife
I'm heading to Paris in Aug with a friend. We are both single, in our 20s, New Yorkers and are African-American professionals. I'm looking for someone to give me some insight on Parisian nightlife. Where can I go where I won't feel like the "only" one?
New York, NY USA Fri 04/27/2007
I'm an african american student planning on doing a study abroad program in Barcelona. The program last 8 months!!! Anyone have any advice on the city/country? Safety, dining, sights, or advice on any and everything having to do with Barcelona would be greatly appreciated.
Phoenix, AZ USA Tue 04/17/2007
I am half Inupiat Eskimo and am from Alaska. I traveled to Germany a few years ago and had different reactions from the locals. A lot of people really dug the fact that I'm Eskimo and wanted to know more about my culture. Some people mistook me for being Arabic and called me nasty names but that didn't phase me. You just gotta hold your head up high and keep your cool when stuff like that happens. I did get a few stares from some people because of my exotic looks and they could tell that I was a "minority" but I took those as compliments. And it's not like the little discrimination I got was any worse than the kind that I encounter @ home. So just deal with it, blow off the bad experiences and be proud of who you are.
Fairbanks, AK USA Sun 04/08/2007
Interracial couple in Italy
Hi, As far as Italy goes, have fun! My fiancee and I (he's black, I'm white)had a great time. I have been numerous times and this was his first -- we both love it! The only real warning is to watch for the photo scams around the Colisseum.
We did take a day trip to the palace of Casserta which was fantastic and south of ROme (on the way to Naples). At the train station, we encountered some pretty agressive children begging. And (possibly the only racist reaction) wierd looks from 3 old men when we went into the restaurant at the train station (the cafe was fine). But it could have also been that we were the only tourists and maybe we got that look because we were outsiders. Or they were racist too. Who knows. Anyway, it was so smokey in there so we were leaving anyway. The rest of the time, our trip was awesome.
In addition to Rome and Casserta, we went to Florence, Pisa, Vercelli, Aosta, Courmayer (side trip to Chamonix,France) and Venice. We are planning on going back this fall with our soon to be 1 year old and his 6 yr old daughter.
Washington, DC USA Tue 04/03/2007
Don't worry about Rome with your Italian boyfriend, I don't think it'll be any problem whatsoever. I'm a black male and when I was out and about with a couple white females touring Rome, I never noticed anyone looking, I'm usually pretty keen on noticing that sort of thing. I did notice lots of looks when I was in some small towns in the Cinque Terre region, but interestingly, most the looks seemed to be coming from other American tourists, not so much from the Italians themselves. Southern Italy, you're on your own there. I haven't been below Rome.
US USA Tue 03/27/2007
Extended stay in Rome, May-July
I am planning a trip to visit my boyfriend in Rome for a few months. I've been to Europe before, but this will be my first time in Italy. My main concerns as far as racism is concerned are: a) that we're an interracial couple(he's Italian, I'm black). I'm wondering what kinds of responses I can expect when we're together in the city? And b) I've read in some posts that Southern Italy is "bad"...can anyone elaborate? Dangerous? More racist? He is from the south, and I know I'll be traveling there too. Also, if anyone can give advice on finding short-term work in Rome, I'd really appreciate it.
USA Sun 03/25/2007
I traveled to Italy last summer and had a wonderful time! I was in Florence, Sienna, Venice and a bunch of small towns in Tuscany. I never had a problem at all..no stares, no propositions, nothing.. I am an African American women in my 40's. Go and have a glass of vino for me!
USA Mon 03/19/2007
I'm not surprised that you were welcomed with open arms in Australia.We(Black Americans) are well respected and thought of by the Aussies.My only surprise would be if you weren't "hit on" by all the guys.I spent time in two vacation spots on different occasions here in the States and met several Aussies who were as good a people you could ever meet.Spent weeks around them and I have open invitations to visit Australia.I just wonder if they can be that cool toward Blacks,whites and Latinos,why do so many Aussies dislike Asians and Muslims?Can't figure that out for the life of me.One of them felt so comfortable as to admit to me, his dislike for Asians.I could not wait to correct him and say how wrong it is to group a bunch of people together in a negative way.He did apologize agreed to reconsider his opinions.Truth is hes a good guy that some how got off track,which I think is true of alot of people who dislike for no real reason.
USA Mon 03/19/2007
Thank you for telling us about your experience traveling in Australia!! I plan on traveling there this summer!!!! How was the plane ride down there?
NY USA Mon 03/19/2007
I know this is a European forum, but here is my take on Australia
I went to Australia last summer, and i did not encounter any racism. I stayed with a host family, and they asked me questions about what it is like to be a black american, but that was the only time that race was brought to my attention for the entire month that i was there.
They all loved my accent. Once i started talking, the store sales girls seemed to smile more, and be extra helpful. Australia is fun. I would love to go back.
Tacima, Wa USA Sat 03/17/2007
Europeans are more accepting of diversity
Have you ever ask the question,why do we, people of color worry so much what others might think of us when traveling abroad or here at home? Could it have more to do with insecurity than any real threat from Europeans? Europe does not have the same discriminatory history as the United States. Maybe our history and experiences in America have tainted the way we see people who are not of color.Maybe that is why we assume something negative will happen to us in Europe.I think people of color must find a way to let go of the baggage that racism in America has burdened us with.At the very least we should view Europeans seperate from what took place and still happens in the States.My time living abroad has been an eye opener.
Chicago & Paris, USA & France Sat 03/10/2007
African American Women in Spain
Sandra, I went to Italy with my mother in 2000. It was lovely. We spent a couple of days in Florence and had no problems whatsoever. It is a beautiful city filled with history. You will have a great time.
NYC, NY USA Fri 03/09/2007
Mike the passionate
Bravo to you Mike.You are a noble person to care so much.But please don't deprive your self of seeing the many European cities that will amaze you.Trust me when I say that people like your self can make a hugh difference by visiting and allowing your strength of character to be shown as an example of American values.You mentioned Sweden,why not holiday there.You are sure to have a great time.Think about it.
New York, NY USA Tue 03/06/2007
Respect and understanding go a long way; just remember while traveling you are a GUEST.
Scottsdale, AZ USA Mon 03/05/2007
Brenda, I'm a guy, but I am African-American. I went to Florence last September. You should have no problems whatsoever. You'll have a great time, nothing to worry about whatsoever. Rome is cool as well. Just learn a few Italian survival phrases and don't walk up to people on the street speaking English. From what I hear, the main problematic parts of Italy are in the south, like Sicily.
L.A., CA USA Sun 03/04/2007
I'm an African-American woman traveling alone to Florence, Italy in April and wanted to hear the experiences of other persons of color who have traveled there, particulary those of women travelers.
On another site, a black woman traveling alone stated that she was continuously harassed by men thinking she was a prostitute which was strange since she dressed like a tourist and these unwelcomed advances occured during the day.
Washington, DC USA Sun 03/04/2007
Using a Voice
Luvpeace.......I don't think for a moment you prefer European people over American folk simply because of low self esteme or lack of acceptance at home.That assumtion would be as extreme to think anyone who points out racial problems in Europe, must not like Europeans or American caucasions.I don't think you meant to jump to such a wild conclusion.I love travel,it is a great educator and I recommend it to anyone who is curious about the world.But we have a responsibility to lend our voice in a way that uplifts those who don't have a voice.Blacks,Asians and Muslims are treated unfairly in certain European countries, and as American we should think more, than that of just our self.Muslims from Arab nations and Black people from Africa are treated very badly in France,Denmark,Netherlands and in Germany.I just don't feel comfortable ignoring discrimination even if I'm not the target.And I'm sure African Americans are treated well in many European countries but that is not the point.I respect Sweden so much for its selfless leadership and being the first European nation to attach sanctions against South Africa during the Apartied years.They could have stayed out of it and viewed the situation as not their fight.In that light,as a African American, how could I not take a stand against discrimination by not traveling to questionable countries!
USA Sat 03/03/2007
Actually, five years ago I hosted a foreign exchange student from Germany for a year. He did not have a problem establishing friendships with other students at school from various ethnicities. He was very open with learning about American history and the history of other cultures. Just like I am.
A year after his stay his parents invited me to Germany. We had a blast! They are my extended family.
People take stereotypes and group people by those misconceptions. I just do not want you to paint a broad brush and group all Europeans as racists. Slavery and genocides still exist in Africa, but does that make all Africans bad? No, you must not take the negative behaviors of a few and group everyone in that same category because that is bias. I am curious to know if you have friends of other ethnicities here in the USA? I guess having friends of other ethnicities has made me more open and more accepting of others.
If you haven't even establish friendships with people of other ethnicities here in the USA, then I guess I can't convince you to travel to another country. If you have friends of other ethnicities wouldn't it be great to learn about their culture?
Travel to Europe and experience the world!
USA Fri 03/02/2007
I'm sure its fun to experience a different type of food at a french bistro or to hear chatter in a foreign language while walking on a city sidewalk in germany.But what I'm not feeling is the outreach or desire of Europeans who want to interact with African Americans.I never hear how well the Europeans treat people of color from africa or muslim countries.Enfact it is said often, how badly treated muslims are in germany,france and in the scandinavian countries.As african Americans who know the experience of racism,don't we have the responsibility to take a stand by not visiting nations which discriminate against any ethnicities? A African American or Latino in Australia is welcomed with open arms,while a Muslim or Asian can expect a frosty reception.I'm of the opinion that spending money in a country that is not racist against me, but racist against others, is still supporting racism.
USA Thu 03/01/2007
I could understand that you may have concerns about traveling to Europe. However, I do not understand why you do not want to experience cultural exchange and visit places outside of the USA. It is so beneficial to visit other countries outside of your own.
As an African American who has traveled to Belgium, the UK, Germany, and the Netherlands I encourage you and others to travel to Europe. I did not suffer hostility or face any problems in either of these countries during my visit.
The big citites in Europe are extremely diverse, but just like here in the USA the rural areas are not. I do not see why people in Europe will be any more racists than the people here in America. I find that I could relate to Europeans on a much deeper and an intellectual level than most Americans that I come into contact with.
Travel and experience the world. I have visited 15 countries outside of the USA and I truly enjoyed my experiences.
Yes, people have bad experience but African Americans just like here in the USA seem to think that every White person is out to get them. Don't assume that a person's rudeness or negative behavior is always a result of racism. Sometimes people are rude and that is within all cultures, ethnicities, and races. You should not allow rude or ignorant people to dictate rather you will travel or not. Also, racism is two way street. Many Whites will not receive great treatment in predominately black cities here in the USA. I just want Blacks to realize that not all white people are out to get them. Prejudice is not a White person's problem, but it is a worlwide problem that exist amongst all races of people.
USA Thu 03/01/2007
Good and bad people in Spain
Based on the experiences of many African Americans,Spain is not a country which has pride in, or fosters the concept of a multi-cultural society.You will not recieve racist comments or stares from most Spaniards but it will occur often enough to leave you with the opinion that most Spaniards are indeed racist.I wouldn't steer clear of Spain all together based solely on the many racist incidents reported by Asians and African Americans.You should visit and see it for your self and then determine if the experience was worth your time and money.Be friendly and polite at all times and let that behavior shape the opinion of how you are seen.
Sanford, Fl USA Wed 02/28/2007
Barcelona and Madrid
From my own observations, Barcelona was not a nice place for people of color. I went in 1989 and 1991. Madrid was a lot better, though there was a bit of behind-the-back and under-the-breath comments made towards me(racial remarks). I am African-American. However, I observed a lot of anti-Asian feeling in Madrid, and overheard a Madrileno snarling about how much he hated the Chinese.
Adelphi, MD USA Sun 02/25/2007
Sandra, I haven't been all over Spain just to Barcelona and Madrid. But I can tell you that there are more Africans in the country than Caribbeans. The Spanish, like every country in the EU is accustomed to seeing black people. Obviously, in some of the smaller towns there will be stares and assumptions, But the same thing can happen to you in the US. In Barcelona, you will definitely see black people. You should read some of the 2006 comments from this forum. I believe there are several African Americans who are currently living in Spain that were having some racial issues. But you've already said that wasn't going to stop you. For me, I've always traveled there with people who knew the area and I found many Spanish to be very friendly, especially when you try to speak the language. I also have Iraqi friends who've visited and they are quite brown and have said many good things about places like Seville and Valencia. So enjoy your time abroad. It's always cool to hear that more of us are traveling and deciding to stay over here.
England Sun 02/25/2007
Would you mind being a bit more specific in your description of certain areas of Sweden and Germany being more "friendly" to Black men, where exactly are you speaking of?
Detroit, MI USA Fri 02/23/2007
Thinking of Moving to Spain
I am thinking of moving to Spain (Madrid) for a couple of years, and I would be interested in people's perception of racism there. I am a black Caribbean female. Although I doubt that I'll be put off one way or the other in terms of making a final decision on whether to move there or not, I would like to hear the thoughts and experiences of people who have actually visited and/or lived in Spain. Thanks.
Houston, TX USA Tue 02/20/2007
To Fine Artist
FineArtist: I appreciate and agree with most of your comments but I have to disagree with the assumption that Europeans are smarter than Americans on the whole. I find the Europeans are stereotyped as smarter and actually believe themselves to be smarter, but they often are not. Every now and then you might meet a well-educated and well-traveled European, but for the most part they see black Americans as the media portrays. A typical experience took place last night when some idiot was trying to convince his female friend to not talk to me. She blew him off and gave me her number. Then he comes over to me and states, I like hip hop; do you like hip hop? I give him the look of death and say "no." He then asks if I like jazz, and I say "no." With the most perplexed look he then asks what music I like. When I say classical, he is shocked and just walks away.
Europeans are sometimes a bit more refined in their disdain for black men. A high percentage of the women are open to black men, and I high percentage of European men resent the heck out of us. I have had to retrain myself on more than a few occasians from cracking the skull of a European man who, under the guise of friendliness, is about to start trouble.
I love living in Europe, but I will always be loyal to the USA where I can walk without fear of harassment and unprovoked attack unlike in Europe.
Europe is heaven for a clean cut, decent, black man. Thugs need not apply.
Sanford, FL USA Sun 02/18/2007
Interesting posts/responses to the 'what not to wear' topic. But, on to other things, shall we? I'm thinking of my summer vacation and here are a few options: Thailand, Dubai or Greece. I'd also like to take a few 'city breaks' in Switzerland, Spain, Malta and Italy at different times this year. If anyone has visited any of these countries and would like to share your experiences..recommend a nice hotel, hotel or restaurant. Feel free to do so.
I'll take the good with the bad. If you have a negative story to share, I guess I'll read it. I'm not looking for racism nor am I afraid of how I'll be perceived in any of these countries. It is quite nice though to read other people's experiences and maybe travel with a few tips. I'm black, american, female and have lived in Europe for several years now. I'm fairly well traveled and do encourage anyone visiting here, to not only travel but do try to live abroad..at least for a while. You don't have to give up your American citizenship, but it would benefit you greatly to live outside the States.
I'm, also, probably one of the only people here who doesn't believe that Europeans are more sophisticated, intelligent, or generally better than me or my countrymen. Nor am I impressed with an accent. What's that all about people? Cliche as it sounds, there are good and bad people and being a 14kt jackass w/ an English accent, in my book makes you: an English jackass! NOT CHARMING!haha
Well, enough of my ramblings, please share your stories if you have them.
England Fri 02/16/2007
Black American male Artist has traveled
I have traveled all over the World. However, to this very day, I have not received as much brutal and institutionalized racism as i have experienced in the good ole US of A. The so called land of the free was the reason why I started traveling. I am a visual artist and while having no opportunities to exhibit my art in america. I went abroad where I have received a very high level of recognition. True Artists, in particular black american male artists are not appreciated at all in america. I am alone, women don't know how to relate to me in america. I guess because I dont have a Hummer with big rims. and i think differently because I have spent so much time abroad. I don't see America as "#1" and I don't worship TV. I actually read. and the fact that I ride a italian Scooter (I brought back from the EU)makes me even 'weirder' too i guess. The scooter is totally a turn off to the women. as it doesn't use much petrol like these big crappy American cars.
Anyhow, my ultimate goal is to leave America forever. There is nothing here for me but a life of loneliness and death. As a black american male, it is easier said than done to reside abroad for extended times. And as an American, my citizenship offers me few to no options to live abroad for any extended period of time. Another reason why america sucks.
Anyhow, I like the EU, the uk excluded. I have traveled around and have met many different people. from Skinheads to Academics. From racists to humanitarians. However, out of all of that, I can say that Europe is very diverse. If you are black and male, watch your back but realize that you will be treated like a human being by I'd say, about 45% ofthe time. Far greater than that in the USA, that is unless the black person is of the token variety. Then america is "#1" then.
I am looking for someone in the EU to sponsor me so I can get the hell out of America. I am very, very unhappy here as a painter. though i joke about this, it is quite serious. I really do hate this place.
If anyone wants to marry a visual artist (i'm serious) or knows someone who wants to sponsor an artist. Please contact me.
EU countries that don't openly display hatred of black American men that are worth visiting/investing in are:
The Netherlands Denmark some parts of sweden Tiny parts of Deutschland (not the east) sometimes France On rare occassions, the UK (mostly around London)
Places to avoid are:
Russsia the Ukraine spain portugal southern Italy some parts of France parts of sweden Parts of Germany, especially the SOUTH All of eastern Europe Greece The West midlands (UK) N. Ireland
Last but not least, if you travel to Europe, have a good attitude, leave the ignorant angry homeboy crap back in America. Sometimes some Europeans may act weird torwards you. But it is not always racism. Sometimes it is a case of just being in shock. Someplaces people have never met a black american before. They may ask you questions about "black life". Do not get mad or offended. Be kind and realize that Europeans are NOT Americans. They generally are a lot smarter, more sophisticated, more fashionable and know more about our history than americans. They can be mean and good. But despite all, remember that they have done good things for the World too. And are human beings too. There is a true thing called reverese racism. Don't turn around and ape the way americans have been torwards you. Europeans are very diverse. And look all kinds of ways. Appreciate their diversity and history. Show respect and you will get along fine. Unless you are in the UK dealing with immigration. It doesn't matter what you say to them. You will always be a crook in their eyes.
all over america, NY USA Mon 02/12/2007
Anywhere you go in the world there will always be someone who will discriminate against you based on your skin color, ethnicity, nationality, height, weight, etc... Don't let it stop you from travelling! Just go, have fun and have a good attitude. You're going to meet people from all walks of life, some will like you and some won't. If someone is rude to you it's not the end of the world, move on. I was recently in Spain and although I speak fluent spanish at times I felt discriminated against simply because I'm an American. Did I let it ruin my trip? Of course not, and neither should anyone else.
San Diego, CA USA Sun 02/11/2007
Karen, check out cafedelasoul.com you may find some folks on there who you can connect with. it's a Af Am site based in Paris. The moderator of the site can also put you in touch with some people. Good luck!
London, England, USA Sat 02/10/2007
minority-related: living & working abroad
I want to live and work in Italy or France. I lived & worked in Dublin in 2002/2003 but encountered a great deal of racism (I'm African American). Before I make this move again, I'm trying to make contact with other African Americans that live in Italy or France to get their input. Thanks for your help.
N Wilkesboro, NC USA Sat 02/10/2007
In regards to Hip Hop Gear
Amen and Amen to Comet and Salvo. My sentiments exactly! In regards to the grooming and appearance when traveling to Europe, yes I do agree that you can't be looking like a slob. I remember stating before that Blowdryers and Flatirons will defintely help women of color so that they will have better managebility with their hair. Nevertheless I think a couple of people may have taken my comment the wrong way. My intention was just to be helpful not to criticize. Blending in is better than sticking out like a sore thumb especially in Southern Europe. There's a way of wearing the Afrocentric styles without attracting negative energy. I do think that streamline "ghetto glam" would be more appropriate. On the lines of Sean Puffy Combs, Eve,J-Lo,Jay-Z very clean hip, and eccentric. This type of Hip-Hop wardrobe should be fine, just as long as you don't wear your pants down to your knees. Have fun traveling.
Phoenix, AZ USA Thu 02/08/2007
Poor George & American Style
Bravo Salvo! Thank you so much for that response. I'm a black American woman and I've lived in England for three years and have travelled quite a bit in my time here. Hip hop culture is alive and well everywhere I've visited. In places like London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin... it's quite normal to see kids and some adults dress this way. I don't happen to like it, but it's fashion. And it's here to stay. Many European teens sometimes idolize the worst of American hip hop culture in a way I find very unsettling.
However, I will say---black or white---there is a particular way Americans dress that make us stand out like tacky beacons to people. It's not an urban style it's just American style. We have a tendency to dress inappropriately casual that somehow seems gauche to some Europeans. And the whole jeans and sneakers way we dress is very different than European's casual fashion sense. Sometimes 'doing as the Romans do' would go a long way to making your visits more comfortable and enjoyable.
The wearing of fanny packs to protect our money and hold our personal items; wearing tennis sun visors in the summer; shorts/jeans combined with big bulky sneakers that many people here only wear when they visit the gym; or the husband and wife matching outfits…those are just a few of the fashion faux pas we make that invite staring and shudders. (I wish I could post pictures). Not to mention that Americans tend to be EXTREMELY LOUD talkers and have that 'sense of entitlement,' which Salvo mentions, along with arrogance that I'll add to the list.
But I don't entirely agree with his statements about American students acting out. English tourists have an equally bad reputation for behaving like fools when they travel. One phrase…binge drinking.
London, England, Sun 02/04/2007
George, i question the extent of ur knowledge about europe. I have lived here for 15 years, mainly belgium, france and italy, and "baggy pants" and other "urban" attire is not something new. you seem to have this idea that all europeans walk around in three piece suits drinking tea...come on now..infact i would agree hip hop culture is far more alive in european countries such as germany and france than the states. Its about demographics, if you are an african american young male in paris,i highly doubt anyone will bat an eye.I dont know if ur aware, but Europe has a large african, arab population. So blacks with cornrows will not send them running for the hills. I agree with you on perception is everything, but thats the case everywhere, nothing special to europe. Racism still exists, if one is willing to make racial pre judgements based on one's appearance or attire, well he was racist to begin with. Any reasonable, tolerant human being is able to seperate the two... But advice to any travellers to Europe, You will encounter racism, as you encounter racism in your own country...unfortunately that is an ugly reality we cannot expect..my only advice is that you avoid being the "ugly american". the sense of "entitlement", and especially to the college students, recognize europe is not cancun, and your drunken antics is neither appreciated nor cute....other than that..happy travels
firenze, italia Sat 02/03/2007
True! No arguement there. You do, however, have to remember that just because you can accept it doesn't mean that others will. If you want that job at the bank, you'd better dress like a banker. If you want that job at the hip-hop club, you'd better dress hip-hop. Don't expect to interview at a ranch in a three piece suite or at a bank wearing a ski mask. Just as a white rocker shouldn't expect to walk through Harlem without some stares, a black kid dressed in gangsta rap clothes should expect the same looks in an area that that is not the norm. As long as you know that you may not be accepted because of how you look and you can accept that then you will be fine. Just don't be naive enough to think that you will be accepted by the content of your character and not the color of your skin or the clothes you wear.
SA, TX USA Sun 01/28/2007
Free will its called.Dress the way your taste dictates and be open minded enough to accept the fact others have that same right.Maybe if you learn to love your self in real terms,the thought of how someone might view you will fall into its proper place of things that matter in life.
USA Sun 01/28/2007
Again, this is not Utopia. I know, you know, and many others know that a person that dresses differently may be the most compassionate in the crowd. You can have a long haired hippy, gangsta rapper, redneck, low-rider, and a banker in a room and the banker could be the cruelest of the bunch. BUT that does not mean that he will be judged that way in the beginning. That is where the word prejudice comes from. PRE Judgement. That is what this thread was about to begin with. If Europeans would look at a minority and think this way or that way. If you act and dress a certain way it will influence people far more than your color. Ever hear the term "uncle Tom" or "Wigger" or "Coconut". Those fefer to the way someone acts, not their color. You can tell a lot, though NOT everything by the cover of a book. If I wanted to read a book about Europe and it had a cover that said "The Best of Antarctica" I will probably not buy the book even though it is the most thorough, entertaining, and easy to use definitive authority on Europe. The same is with people. If I see someone dressed like a gangsta or redneck, I may assume that their character will fit the traits of a gangsta or redneck. If it was a perfect world, we wouldn't be having these conversations, but it's not and they are valid issues despite "the way things ought to be." If there are bigotts in your part of the world, why would you worry about going to Europe because there might be biggots?
As for the remark that some of may not be minority. I take offense to that. I happen to be more than one of the above but unless I bow to biggotry and close my eyes to the way the world really is, I am accused of being "the Man". Maybe whitey is not out to get us but rather we are perpetuating racism ourselves by even recognizing that someone is different because of their color.
We are perpetuating "seperate but equal."
San Antonio, TX USA Sun 01/28/2007
What was said had nothing to do with behavior, but in fact suggested a change in how one should dress.I repeat its naive to believe clothes make the man/woman.I have traveled over seas and met many African Americans,Latinos and Asians and Whites.Not once have I come cross any of this accussed poor behavior or dress from Americans.I even question if this subject is the product of a posters need to stir up trouble,more likely by someone who is not African American,Latino or Asian.Wouldn't be the first time.
USA Sun 01/28/2007
"The old addage don't judge a book by its cover fits perfectly in this situation and its something that would serve us all well to remember."
In an ideal situation, that's the way it should be, but the world isn't ideal. What is being said is don't act belligerant, low class and trashy but instead act polite and classy, regardless of race or nationality.
USA Sun 01/28/2007
George....I think you are over generalizing and may I add feeling insecure about how others might be perceiving so called Urban culture.Not sure how you think business attaire or like,will safe guard a person from stereotyping from a bigot. Plus I think you sell Europeans very short to say they are unable to seperate the difference in a person's character and a clothing trend.Based on your theory presentation has more or equal merit as real substance.The old addage don't judge a book by its cover fits perfectly in this situation and its something that would serve us all well to remember.
Thomasville, NC USA Sun 01/28/2007
If you go around saying, "I ain't even be tryin' to act no fool" or walking around with a "Whachoo lookin at?" snarl on your face, you are only making yourself and the rest of us look uneducated and "ghetto." Present yourself in a respectful manner. Many people wear corn rows or afros and make them look classy. If you are walking around with your pants hanging down to your knees and t-shirts glorifying gang affiliation while wearing your colors, you look "ghetto" and, regardless of the way it "should be," you will not be welcomed by many people. This is not a Utopian society. You must remember that here, in the United States, we are used to that and, although we know that there are good and bad of all types, we still stereotype it. In Europe they see only what's on MTV and CNN and relate that type of behavior and dress to gang relations.
Reminds me of another race issue. Remember Jeff Foxworthy and "You might be a redneck?" A similar list could be made for other races and personalities. Although Mr. Foxworthy is a self proclaimed "redneck", I'll be willing to bet that he knows how to act at black-tie functions, foreign countries, and job interviews. You can be from the ghetto, the barrio, the backwoods, or Beverly Hills and still act dignified without losing who you are.
San Antonio, TX USA Sat 01/27/2007
change of perspective...
This is in response to the person that used the term "ghetto". Please watch your conversation. It's in insult to read your words on a site that is to be supportive to travelers of color. What do you mean by "ghetto". Your tone is deameaning in a way. I've been offended before by commments made on this site. One Black women made the comment that if you are a Black woman make sure not to wear your hair in a "ghetto way" (African Styles)..."they don't like that (Europeans)". Hip Hop has showed us that this is not true, from hair, to dress, to venacular, somebody likes it!"Travel with a blow dryer" or some other hair modifyer..Who are we supposed to be on our travels? Oursevles or a "model minority".When I travel to Europe it will be as myself. I'm not trying to "blend in", and be accepted by white people. African diasporic people have being making trips to Europe forever, as ourselves...
Minneapolis, MN USA Fri 01/26/2007
The purpose of traveling!
I think wanting to be accepted by all people is a waste of time.You will encounter good folks in every ethnicity including our own ethnicity.If some one dislikes a race it usually has nothing to with reputations or sound reasoning.Asains are disliked in Australia simply because their numbers are increasing in that country.When Blacks and Latinos go to Australia they are treated very well because their numbers are small,which allows the australians to relax and see you as a individual.None of these ethnities have committed any trouble in australia in america or europe.Bottom line,some folks will not like you regardless if you are a good decent person,the trick is to care less.If every white person(just an example) in the world disliked me,and there was a pot of gold waiting to be had by the smartest agressive person,I still would get mine regardless who stood in my way.You go and have your travel experience and get what you want out of it.Usually people dislike like a person due to small minded reasons.Many people are jealous and that can manifest it self into hatred.
Nashville, Tenn USA Tue 01/23/2007
"Is the posting someone left without a name supposed to be sarcastic? I don't know, it seems to me the poster is being a jokester. Blacks do not have good reputations worldwide, and especially not in America or even Europe. We are not loved over there, but we are more tolerated than here in our 'homeland'."
Europe has few blacks so you don't know if you would be more tolerated over there. People who have no experience with a group usually don't have an opinion either way, such as it is with Europe regarding blacks.
USA Mon 01/22/2007
I am of mixed race and have found that it is more how you act than how you look. That goes for home and abroad. If you act ignorant or "ghetto" or "trashy" you are going to be treated that way. If you act educated, polite, and not like you are entitled to everything, you will be treated with respect. I am 36 years old and can think of only one instance in which I was flat out discriminated against and that was by someone who had never met me or even spoke to me.
I find it odd that a group of American soldiers would gawk at a mixed race couple. Not saying that it was your imagination. It is just that since the popularity of rap music among white teenage girls, you see A LOT of mixed race young couples which I'm sure these soldiers were of that age group. Maybe they were looking at you for another reason and you were a little self conscious about being mixed.
Bottom line, don't worry about race. The sooner we ALL stop seeing color and making excuses, the sooner we can all go on and live together and love or hate people for what they do, not what they look like.
San Antonio, TX USA Thu 01/18/2007
Thanks For Comments!
Thanks for your comments and encouragement. I ommited that my wife is white. I know I can travel wherever I like on my own, it's when we travel together that we seem to attract attention! On our way to Ireland we passed a group of mixed black and white US soldiers that all stopped and gawked at us even though they'd just been chatting merrily. Anyhow, isolated incidents are just that - not the whole story. I'm going to suprise my wife and book a weekend in New York. We've just booked a villa in Ibiza (again) too. How about that then!? :0) Two days ago I met our wedding chef who I haven't seen for ages. He's just been working in Germany and says he loves it more than the UK - he was cooking in one of the places Hitler used to dine in. :o) Let's get travelling!
UK Mon 01/01/2007
Blacks are loved and welcomed everywhere, especially in Europe where their reputation for low crime rates is know worldwide. Go, they'll love you, they even want you to move there.