Well this is one aspect to traveling abroad. One that I think people of color and particularly African-Americans carry with them on their trips. That is their identity beyond just being American. It does not help that when you arrive the one or two local TV stations are showing reruns of Good Times with closed captions and worse still Sanford and Son.
On this particular trip, I asked our guide Sooky what nationality the native Cambodians think we are (meaning my family of African-Americans)? Expecting him to say African, I was quite surprised when he simply said brown French. He said many in the towns and nearly everyone in the countryside have ever seen any other person except Cambodian, other Asian, or white French.
So it becomes that we are not only representing the American we are the ambassadors of the African-American race too when traveling abroad.
There is another more relatable but true aspect to traveling out of the US. And this is especially true of the remotely traveled, less frequently traveled country destinations. That is the silent but uncontested 'bond with a glance' blacks share with one another.
Okay white people I realize I must explain more. When white people travel outside of the US they blend in most places they travel to or at least they do not become the fly in the milk. Often wherever they travel the nationals are used to seeing them come and go. Not necessarily the case for blacks. This is not to say we don't travel, quite contrary. We just don't travel to the same places at the same time in substantial numbers and frequency to become normalized in our destination. We are still a "sighting." I have even had my hair touched in Hong Kong on a train in the 90's.
So whereas we might be on vacation counting on one hand the number of other people like us, white people of my conjecture do not do this. Do not even think of doing this.
So here is the inside intel on this. Black people not only notice one another, we instantly make a connection with one another whether or not we say one word to each other or not. The eyes, the nod, the wave of the hand, all say, "Hey you good? Great seeing you. Happy to see you. This place treating you okay?" And then the ultimate silent speak of, "Thank you, so glad I am not here alone."
Now to be clear, this is not going to happen in Western Europe like it will Australia or Asia. Just to be clear.
And if that extra step is taken and you stop and talk, that time is complete nirvana. Hugs, phone numbers exchanged, occasional new friendships.
Now white people don't go looking for those moments in black people when you are out there traveling. It happens too quickly and it is an exchange of artistry. Moreso, it is so subtle if you blink you might miss it. And in the end, it is not all that important if you don't understand. Okay gotta go, I think I see one. A taxi that is....
Happy travels. All people. My people. We the people.