I often get asked if there is a difference between Black expats and expats of other nationalities. I always tell them.. that there isn’t a difference. We want to travel and see the world. We want to meet people from different places. We want to educate ourselves and maybe we want to find the perfect mate. Just like any other person that wants to go abroad and explore the world. In my mind, there was nothing different.. no story to write about. But last night when I was out having dinner with some of my friends, I realized that there IS something different between Black expats and other expats. Let me explain.
Those of you that read my blog… that are pigment impaired may not know this but we black people… no matter the country, the city, the state, or financial background., will smile, nod, or wave whenever we see another Black person. We do this in America, everywhere we go. We do not know each other.. but we acknowledge each other. Sometimes with just the lift of the chin, or a wink there is just something in our DNA tells us to acknowledge other Black people.
When I was sitting in Starbucks (yeah I found one in the next town over) …. with my friends one Polish, one New Zealander, and 3 Chinese friends. I kind of glanced up from my coffee and quickly noticed two heavy-set Black women with long braids looking at me. Of course, as is customary with all Black People around the world we smiled at each other. I said hello and they came directly over to me. They were so happy to see another Black person they couldn’t contain themselves… and they gave me a hug saying, “Thank you Jesus, another Black person” … I laughed but I understood their feeling. When you are in China awhile you get very excited to see people that are similar to you. Come to find out they were a mother-daughter team, the daughter was going to school in Nanjing to learn Chinese and the mother owned a home in the area and was in the Diamond business. The mother traveled back and forth monthly from their home. They were from the Bahamas…. and they were freezing I could tell.
We talked and exchanged phone numbers… and promised to stay in touch. They were shocked and surprised to find out that I had lived in China for 4 years and that I was married to a Chinese man… (most people are). They were the sweetest and most excited ladies I had met in a long time. I introduced my friends to them and they introduced their Chinese translator to me and then they left to get their coffee.
I did not think much of the encounter…. until one of my Chinese friends said...”I am so jealous….” I was like WHY? He said… ” Black people are so cool you can just talk to each other, hug each other.. and you just met….wow “ I said, well if you feel bad… I can call her back so she can give you a hug too.….. He laughed … he said… No, No… it is like your all a big family and your so comfortable with each other even though you just met… I want to be like that….” I said.. you want to be a Black woman? …(of course I was teasing him) … but I added… you know … you can go hug some Chinese people.. they are all over the place. He said... I can’t do that….. I need to be a Black person. We all laughed at that….
… Later I thought about what he said… and he was right… When other people of other nationalities see each other … they don’t usually hug each other or acknowledge each other just when they pass by…. they may be happy if someone is from the same country or city. But they never just smile at them because they have the same skin color.
I thought about it.. and you guys may disagree but… I think the reason we do that… Is because no matter where we are from … we feel a kinship. When we look at each other we know we have all been thru the same things… we are rare and special…. and most importantly…. we always have each other’s back it is like a built in support system. Like brothers and sisters… we may fight among ourselves and call each other names… but … if we are somewhere.. anywhere…. We will always acknowledge that we see each other and that we got’cha. Even more so here in China… since there are sooo very few of us.
So.. the next time… someone asks me.. if there is a difference between Black expats and other expats… I will say “Yes… We are family…. brothers and sisters…. no matter where we are, or what country the Black person comes from…. and we always have each others back”
- Watch: Jimmy Kimmel Celebrates Black History Month By Asking “Who Is Your Favorite Black Person?” (clutchmagonline.com)
- How To Be Black, A Satirical Guide From Comedian Baratunde Thurston (laughingsquid.com)
- Expats ‘still financially better-off’ (shoppingdivas.com)
- BLACK People (mylifenthensome.wordpress.com)
- Sh*t Expat Women Say (iwasanexpatwife.com)
- Top 25 Best Things About Being An Expat (brokerfish.com)