Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Travel...

This bitch was amazed by the drama on CNN last night. And why were so many anchors eagerly anticipating riots and violence? Spare me...

2 cups coffee with Splenda and yummy organic milk, 1 Claritin, 2 real Sudafed (bless you C-Money) and cigs…

Travel…
A certain someone has been published in St. Louis’ powerhouse independent newspaper…The Vital VOICE! Oh my, a bitch can always say my ass knew you when. The article is about solo travel, which a bitch has never done. A bitch’s sister took a solo trip to Churchill, Manitoba to learn all about polar bears…don’t ask…but this bitch has never really traveled alone on a vacation. Great article, my dear…

So, my thoughts have turned to traveling. My next trip will most likely be to Canada. When preparing to travel, this bitch always investigates the chosen destination’s racial past and present. Mostly because a bitch has no intention of being the feature story on Dateline NBC with Stone Philips mouthing off about a tragedy in Bavaria…or, even worse, a 48 Hours Mystery segment on that AngryBlackBitch who went missing in Switzerland. Shudder. So, a bitch investigates and researches and then makes up my mind.

And that brings us to Australia and the recent riots. This bitch has always longed to visit Australia. As an Anthropology student, my ass was fascinated by Australia’s unique cultural history and it’s wealth of natural beauty. The long plane ride and a bitch’s limited bank account have always made a trip to Australia more of a dream than a plan. And now…well, there’s the issue of racial unrest.

A bitch is more than aware that the media often fucks up its coverage of international news and this bitch has read the reports out of Australia with caution. But there clearly have been serious incidents of mob violence against people of color due to a perceived wrong done to an Australian by…a Muslim…and Arab…someone not “Australian”? The other.

My friends often chide me for my fears regarding traveling while black. There are several states and regions in America this bitch has stated concerns about visiting…Idaho, rural Alabama and most of the rural deep South. A bitch is working on this emotionally, but my ass honestly is concerned that something bad might happen to me there. Shit…this bitch is reluctant to travel through southern Missouri too and that region has earned that reputation like a motherfucker.

What always amazes me is how shocked some people are to hear of my fears.

You should go to Australia! Nothing would happen to you there. You’re just being silly…I’ve been and it was fantabulous!

And a bitch is forced to point out that they aren’t me…they aren’t the visible other…they have never read stories about racial violence and thought there, but for the grace of Gawd, goes a bitch.

It sucks. It really sucks to know that anyone may be subject to violence simply because they appear to be an immigrant, a Muslim or some other “undesirable” visitor. And it sucks to the bone to know that a bitch may not have a peaceful travel experience simply because my ass is brown…that my friend may face violence because of her lovely Turkish name and heritage.

It pisses me off that some people carelessly voice their concerns over traveling to North St. Louis then look at me like my ass is crazy for not wanting to rough it in the Ozarks. So, its perfectly understandable to fear the hood but a bitch is being irrational when my ass fears a weekend of rural isolation in a region known for Klan roadside improvement projects and Confederate Rememberance Day?

Shit.

And so a bitch investigates the political climate while some of my friends investigate the beaches…a bitch looks into a destination’s history while some of my friends check out the shopping.

And it sucks.

This bitch has a family friend who has visited Australia recently…a long stay and she raved about it. There are sharks to be seen…and a bitch adores sharks, but this bitch prefers to view them from a distance...on land. The water is amazing, the beaches fantabulous, the people are welcoming…the people are welcoming.

Welcoming?

Some, but clearly not all.

Yeah…it really sucks.

And is this the unexplored toll of the War on Terrorism? The stigma carried by anyone who even appears to be Arab or Muslim or “from there”? And don’t we suffer from this illness in America too? While flying or shopping or driving to the store?

And a bitch feels small for fretting about traveling while black, because it must be so frightening to travel while Muslim…

…much less immigrate and attempt to live “over there” when you come from “that place” where people want to “blow everyone of us up” and “live off of our government’s tit” all the while “refusing to fit in” because they must be “planning to do something violent”.

Not exactly the kind of shit you will find in the travel brochures...

21 comments:

CrankyProf said...

I completely understand a Bitch's fears. While I can't fully understand, I can sypathize. (Hell, it's not like Traveling While American is popular these days -- completely rational folk often get confused for uptight, racist, warmongering BushBots overseas. I always want to wear a sign that says, "If I were one of THEM, I wouldnt be traveling overseas.")

I think that as long as you're doing what you need to do to feel secure and safe while traveling -- and you're jot letting it cow you into NOT traveling -- you're OK.

And you need to come to Philly!

Agent Orange said...

Speaking of Idaho - as long as you stay out of the panhandle, you'll be fine. Boise is quite lovely and friendly. Don't go anywhere near Wyoming though... that's just my friendly Native American advice to you - one woman of color to another.

Shark-fu said...

Oh wow...a bitch may reconsider Idaho. It looks lovely.

Cranky - this bitch is working on it and feels you on traveling while American.

As for Philly...thanks for reminding me! My ass is over due for a cheesesteak loaded with peppers and cheese and...oh my Gawd, let me check the break away fares!

katherine said...

. . . I don't think your fears are unjustified - there is still such rampant stupidity in the world around skin color and otherness . . . and travel is precarious just because of being a woman . . . I'm a pretty fearless person - lived in NYC for a long time and dealt well with the intensity of being a female there and often needing to get around at night and not always having the $$$ for cabfare - and I've been on the receiving end of the skin color thing- of being one of the few whites at a Public Enemy concert in 1992 and dealing with really hostile vibes coming at me - dating a black man who lived in Red Hook NY and having to get cabs to and from to stay with him because he was deadly serious about me not walking around his neighborhood by myself . . . but it all gets down to what we want and how to manage the stuff that goes with it . . . and travelling overseas does change the deal - how to know what to do and not do? how to have fun while not being undercautious?

Canadian Rob said...

Get that fabalous bitch ass up to Canada! We'll welcome you with open arms ABB, and treat you right! Come to Toronto, there's lots to see and do, great shopping, and you're an hour's drive away from Niagara Falls. Smarties galore, and I live in a city 45 minutes outside of Toronto that has at least 50 Tim Horton's outlets.

bev said...

I'd-a thought you were nuts about rural southern Missouri were it not for packing up my spawn this summer and trying to get into Nature's Six Flags - Johnson Shut-Ins.

We didn't get into the park so we drove around looking for a spot to let our city-slicker-kids check out rocks and river water up close. I was totally unnerved by the prevalence of confederate flags flying in the front yards.

It really, really bothered me.

Anonymous said...

I remember about 10 years ago a Black woman municipal judge from NYC, travelling to England, raised all kinds of hell because Her Majesty's Customs' officers decided she was a scary drug dealer, and demanded a strip search. She got a written apology from the home secretary, but pretty much everything you hear now about TWM (travelling while muslim) applied to TWB (travelling while black and brown) not too long ago.

Ayo-

blue said...

I completely don't blame you. My Judaism isn't even that clear from my appearance or name and I have jitters about going to heavily Muslim towns. That fear predates 9/11 by a lot and I'm afraid it might never go in my lifetime. And just being dark haired and olive-skinned is enough to get you crap in some places.

Tx Lady said...

I am beginning to realize that I have completely overestimated my understanding of minorities and the social restrictions they face on a daily basis. Although I have felt some hostility from the "majority" minority in predominantly minority urban neighborhoods or social venues, I have never ONCE had to consider the friggin social climate of a place I was to visit while on vacation. I feel FOR you but I know now that I can never feel you.

Jeff said...

When I was considering graduate schools and one of my professors suggested Ol' Miss in Oxford, Mississippi, my mother had a tremor of fear. We were both thinking the same thing--they don't like people like me down there.

No one is ever comfortable when they are the Other, so I don't think you're being paranoid in the least. I don't go to southern Missouri for the same reason. But my Otherness is a lot easier to camouflage. (Don't give me that look! Yes, I *can* butch it up. I can I can I can!)

And Australia, from what I've read, has a culture of machismo that gives me pause.

I sometimes think that, no matter where we go, any sense of security is more or less a thinly veiled illusion. In some places, depending on who we are, the veil is really thin.

Allyson said...

I've always wanted to travel to Australia also. One Australian news website I read is this one: http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/

Michael M. said...

I am from the deep South, and I went to Ole Miss. I encourage ABB and Jeff to visit. There are gay people at Ole Miss. I would not count the school among supportive environments, but I doubt that it is what you expect. African-Americans are now moving back to the South. Again, it is not paradise down there. Finding problems is easy. Many of the negative generalizations, however, persist beyond reason. There is good there to be found.

fahren said...

tho i long to camp on ayer's rock, I've crossed the Land of Oz off for the time being. This country had a "whites only" immigration policy until the 1980s and recently a NZ broadcaster referred to Kofi Annan as a "cheeky darkie". just not feeling the vegemite right now.

Shark-fu said...

Oh my!

Thank you Michael M. and a bitch may just wander down for a visit...we'll start with large cities first.

And Fahren, oh my! A bitch is going to ahve to dig a bit on that, because it may relate to a certain director of a certain film that a certain ABB can not stand...

Anonymous said...

I am Australian and have lived throughout the country. Your fears are unfounded and are typical of ignorant tourists who believe everything they read, as evidenced by your shark comments. Sure there are sharks in the water now and then but the likelihood of you meeting one is less than you winning the grand jackpot of the national lottery twice in a row. As I said, your fears are totally unfounded.

Anonymous said...

Carrying on from my previous comment, I thought it would be useful to give you a tip if you do decide to visit wonderful Australia. Your colour will have very little to do with the reception you receive from the locals. Your attitude, however, will have a huge impact. Australians, English and many other countries have a hard time with American tourists for one very simple reason, a lack of humility. Don't be a loud tourist because they are not appreciated. Interact with sincerity, listen more than you speak and keep your voice down and you will have a fantastic holiday, guaranteed.

Victrix said...

Shark-fu, what you REALLY have to know about Canadians is that although we love to hate America, what we love even MORE are Americans who are even vaguely educated regarding Canada. When you come up here, if you even demonstrate the most remote sense of, say, geography--e.g. being aware that Montreal and Toronto are in two different but adjacent provinces--all the Canadians are you will be THRILLED. It seems to me that your awareness over separatism in Quebec, your fluency in our national baked goods and our chocolate specialities already puts you in good stead.

The racism in Canada works differently in the U.S. in the sense that it is more subtle. There are arguments to be made that, at least when the racism is overt, you know what to expect. But I do think that in most urban centres, there is an awareness of racism and mechanisms for people to talk about racism. Because of Canada's different relationship to both colonialism and slavery, there are different effects for people of colour here. The subtleties tend to expand across a range of political entities: our right-wing parties are less right-wing than yours; our right-wing nuts are slightly less nutty; we don't really have a tradition of Christian fundamentalism (and we certainly don't have one that informs political parties).

I'm white, but when a friend and I drove down to Tennessee last year, I was totally freaked out by being down south. My friend and I were achingly aware of the racial privilege we were exercising; we felt vulnerable having wacky Canadian license plates and being two women travelling without male accompaniment. I felt that cashing in on my white privilege was the thin edge of the wedge between us and an, er, "incident" with some good ol' boys.

Having said that, I have travelled in Canada and a few European countries by myself and had no incidents (again, though, I am saying this as a white woman).

Michael M. said...

M(i)sadventure, what incident almost happened? What vulnerability did you feel?

Uccellina said...

I know I'm a little late to the party, but I have to respond to the Anonymous Aussie: I have lived in Australia, though I wasn't born there, and Bitch's fears are most certainly NOT unfounded. If you lived "throughout the country," then you know that there are many sharks and crocs around Darwin, and people do not swim in the ocean there. Australian racism is equally real. I could not list all of the racist remarks that I heard while living there, because there isn't enough room in Haloscan. To choose just one: "You're from America? Great place, except for all the n****** running around there."

I worked with Aboriginal people in the Central Desert, and anyone who says that Australia isn't a racist country is crazy or lying. I don't know that it's significantly more racist than many other countries, but it sure as hell ain't less.

Crystal-Lynn said...

Let's go to Philly and see Jon Bon Jovi's Arena Ball team

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