When you suddenly decide to apply for your passport to travel outside the United States, you’ll have some fascinating experiences wherever you choose to go. Still, you should beware of some pitfalls, even if experienced. A traveler can get stranded anywhere. Someone could rob you, or you could fall out with the people who work with you. I know several black guys in Canada who have never left their province—guys in Toronto who have never seen Vancouver. I know people in New Jersey who have never left North America. What does that mean? Many people are inexperienced travelers. When traveling, there are certain times when you can do nothing to prevent something from going wrong. In that case, even the most seasoned wanderer might need help troubleshooting.
That’s how unpredictable it is when traveling.
As an Afropolitan who has lived in nine countries and traveled to at least fifty international destinations, one easily could presume it’s my fault if I became stranded in a foreign country. Imagine that many African Americans, let alone the country, still needed to travel outside their state. Traveling sounds and looks fun, but it could become unpleasant in seconds. On my last trip from Germany to Spain, I was active in three cities in one day (each way). Overbookings, delays, or last-minute cancellations happen. Go to the washroom, miss an announcement, and encounter an unforeseen nightmare. I remember in 2018 when I got stranded in Casablanca on my way back from Sierra Leone. An ATM in Freetown sucked my credit card, and my debit card wasn’t working at any Moroccan ATMs.
My first move was to transfer cash to myself via Western Union using my cell phone. The airport WIFI wasn’t working correctly that day. My relaxing journey immediately transformed into distress. All I could do was stop myself from panicking. To make matters worse, I missed my flight to Brussels. The next flight was leaving the following afternoon. When I attempted to get help from the airport staff, they called security, who redirected me outside the airport. Oh, and I had revealed my diplomatic passport to them. That’s how unpredictable it is when traveling. Journeying is not always leisurely! My luggage was lost, I couldn’t speak Arabic, and the attendants needed better customer service. Maybe it was me. Sometimes, you have a terrible day and can’t shake it. Not to mention racism.
By missing that flight, I had no other way from Casablanca to Brussels that day. My only option was to buy another 1000 euro plane ticket to Paris. I also needed a taxi from that airport, a decent hotel room, dinner, and a 100+ euro train ticket from Paris to Brussels. At the very least, I had to get anywhere in western Europe where my debit card would work. That way, I’d be back in the game. The problem wasn’t that I didn’t have any funds; it was just that I couldn’t access my stash due to faulty technology. Realizing that I had one cell phone bar with a WIFI connection where I was standing, I used Whatsapp to arrange the plane ticket to France. When my phone pinged, I was about to catch a cab to try my luck at a nearby hotel. My people had been checking in to see how I was doing.
Besides that, racism is everywhere.
I attempted to re-enter the airport. They said to go through security. There was a short window to do that, collect my ticket plus boarding pass, and board the plane. It was the last one leaving Casablanca for Paris that evening. Luckily, a friendly airport official, a good Samaritan, guided me to where they dropped unclaimed luggage. I discovered that my previous flight had unboarded my bags before taking off. And I worried that my bags had arrived in Brussels while I was stranded in Casablanca. I’d have left them in Morocco if this man hadn’t tapped my shoulder and pointed me in that direction. I frantically scoured through the wreckage of unclaimed baggage, found my four suitcases, loaded them onto a trolley, and rushed to check them in, barely boarding my plane on time.
After that, my nightmare seemed to have come under control. When I landed in Paris, already, I’d booked a cozy hotel suite to pamper myself. Sadly, the Paris cab driver charged 100 euros for a 35 euro fare. And… more bullshit happened on the train ride from Paris to Brussels the following day. That’s traveling. Besides that, racism is everywhere. Whether you’re in Asia or South America, people of African descent experience the most extraordinary discrimination. Sometimes they’re worse in Europe, America, or even in Africa. Blacks are the most disenfranchised unless we give money away like Mensa Musa gave gold. We face racism. Run out of cash and quickly remind yourself that you’re not immune to discrimination or bigotry. It doesn’t matter if you’re a king or queen.
You could be friendly, polite, educated, honest, warm, and still. One would have to meet someone who expressively fucks with black. If not, you’re alone. So… imagine being stranded in a world where some people say their race is better. You could be a citizen from one of the most reputable countries in the world—Japan, Singapore, Germany, Spain, the United States, Canada, the Netherlands, France, Ireland, or the United Kingdom. If you’re of African descent, the airport attendant or immigration officer might check your passport as if you stole it. Even after ascertaining its authenticity, they don’t always show full respect. This is especially true when that person carries an American passport. Sometimes they seem mad that US citizenship enables many blacks to compete on an equal plane.
However, I believe people of African descent experience them far more often.
You see resistance to your status. Imagine you’re an American-Canadian with an additional diplomatic passport from a developed country. Yet, it would be best to have an ordinary Caucasian with basic qualifications to vouch for you. She’s a Caucasian flight attendant. You’re a black millionaire. Racism lets her look through you. Racists see an ethnicity that doesn’t deserve what they possess. Again, you can hire a private jet to avoid that but imagine this person being stranded. His credit card was stolen, or her ATM card stopped working. He’s well dressed, and it doesn’t matter. He’s a criminal. As I’ve said earlier, even when you possess a western or diplomatic passport, they won’t care. It’s best to ask your family, friends, or an alien for assistance or end up in the streets.
(If you read this to insinuate that I’m suggesting every Caucasian is a racist, that ignorance is on you). I’m saying here that we shouldn’t be so quick to judge people of African descent if they get stranded while traveling abroad. In the second part of this article, I will list a few of the dangers that black people face while traveling. People from other races could experience the same things as they affect all foreigners. However, I believe people of African descent experience them far more often. By people of African descent, I’m referring to black people from Africa and the global community. As a whole, traveling itself can be a dangerous or stressful activity. One could be the most experienced and follow every precaution. Traveling while black is a thing. Check out part two of this article. *