Oh G*d. Here she goes…….
Now, before you start himmin’ and hawin’, remember the name of the blog site, mmmkay?
This may be controversial and totally antithetical to what you see folks doing on the Gram and what not, but I want to share a story about traveling while Black that may make you uncomfortable.
Es necesario decirte that I am not sharing it because I want you to feel uncomfortable, but to talk about some of the real things that happen despite the fact you might know the language and how our Blackness is still a factor AUNQUE hablas español.
I had been dying to go to Spain. I had tried two other times prior to 2015. Each time, the trip was set, I was paying my little money toward the trip and then…..a war broke out.
En serio, Desert Storm I AND II respectively.
But, in 2015, I finally got my chance! I was on my way to Spain for Professional Development and I was AMPED!
I get to the location where we would be having our sessions and I look around the room at all the participants……the only butterscotch chip in the cookie si me sientes….
No matter, I’ve been there before. I got this!
But then it happened. As casually and as surprisingly as to be expected. I was walking home from dinner with everyone and there was a man sitting on a ledge, watching us go by. One by one, each woman in our group got a friendly “buenas noches” until he got to me, then it switched….to a proposition…yup, THAT kind of proposition.
Luckily I had a comeback! Shut it ALL THE WAY DOWN! But many of us are not as fortunate.
- We’re shocked
- We’re confused
- We have no idea how to respond
and some of you, didn’t even realize WHAT was said, because you’re not as adept in the language as you thought!
The thing is, nobody with me that night or even the next day could even understand what was happening racially in that moment. The prevailing factor was that because of the color of my skin, it meant:
You could make assumptions.
He made assumptions and the women with me made assumptions. You’ve heard them:
“I don’t think that’s what he meant.” (Because you, lady, have the ability to read into the mind of complete strangers)
“Maybe you misunderstood him” (Because somehow, it is my language ability that has me feeling that way and the misogynistic assumptions of this man)
“I wouldn’t make a big deal out of it” (Because….wait for it…..)
“You should be flattered!”
These are the things our classroom experiences with language don’t prep us for. There’s no lesson on “how to defend your Blackness overseas” or “How to break stereotypes while traveling in Spanish”
But it’s something you need AND it’s something your child needs before they do that study abroad.
That’s why when I started doing more study abroad programs at my university, I advocated for Blacks students to have a safe space to talk about those real issues. They were able to take on those countries with a whole new bag of tricks. I gave them #blackawayfromhome swag.
Just like I give you #languageswag when you work with me.
Doing all the things in Spanish just like English.
- And just BEING Black in this world.
All while keeping your identity as priority and giving you the things you need in Spanish to do it.
Yes, love there is raícismo when you travel, but your full armor of #languageswag can deflect it!