Hair-raising ignorance, and being the other on your own continent


Travelling Tales

Hair-raising ignorance, and being the other on your own continent

Yes, some of us Google ‘what is racism like in ...’ to prepare for travelling. Here’s why

Funiwe Mkele

As a black person, whenever you interact with the world you are confronted with the fact that you are black. It could be in the media or how people look at you in the store. The world takes every opportunity to remind you that you are the other. It could be anywhere you go – off the continent, within the diaspora, or even in your home country.

My first venture off the continent and into the world was a school science tour to Europe during the early 2010s. I know, it sounds lame, but I have become a lot cooler since then. We were going to spend two weeks in France, Germany and Switzerland, and being the less than cool person I was back then I researched every country, tried to learn conversational German (it’s harder than you think) and wondered what racism was like outside my home country.

Now, if you are of a fairer complexion this may come as a surprise, but there are some of us who Google “what is racism like in ...” just to have all the facts before embarking on a journey. This may seem absurd, but this serves as a form of mental preparation for what may be ahead. So, armed with knowledge, 16kg worth of clothes and “conversational German”, I set off to a new world...

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