Traveling While Black
For those with the means, contemporary Black travelers experience a freedom of movement historically circumscribed by oppression, persecution, and economic exclusion. People of African descent have found new footing in the exploding global travel field, with travel motivations ranging from pleasure-seeking to the desire to connect with ancestral homes. Travel abroad is not without its challenges, however: Black travelers recount dealing with stares, hair obsession, and the need to expand conceptions of the diverse places Black people live in the world. As a lifestyle movement coalesces around Black travelers, BBC News explores the unique experiences of traveling while Black, from encounters with strangers to hyper-visibility.
“Our access to travel has been historically tied to colonisation or immigration. We’re paying homage to our ancestors to be travelling on our own free will.”
“What does it mean to be a black traveller?” (BBC News | January 2020)
“How the black travel movement is gaining momentum” (CNN | August 2019)
Black & Abroad
Black Girls Travel Too
Malaysian PM announces asylum provisions for refugee Uyghurs
- Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamed indicated that the country would not honor extradition requests from China for Uyghurs fleeing persecution.
- The announcement follows a statement from the foreign minister indicating that an inquiry into human rights violations in the Xinjiang region of China.
- Hundreds took to the streets of Kuala Lumpur to protest the ongoing incarceration of more than a million Uyghur Muslims in “political re-education” camps in northwest China.
“Malaysia not to extradite Uighurs seeking asylum” (Andalou Agency | December 2019)
“Malaysia to probe rights violations against Uighurs” (Andalou Agency | December 2019)
“In KL, hundreds of Muslims protest against China’s treatment of Uighurs” (Malay Mail | December 2019)
Facebook announces ban on white-nationalist content
- The world’s most widely used social media company announced a ban on “praise, support, and representation of white nationalism and separatism,” to be enforced beginning next week.
- Users who search for terms related to white supremacy, nationalism, and separatism will be redirected to Life After Hate, an organization that supports the de-radicalization of members of far-right hate groups.
- Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have come under fire for enabling the spread of hate content and the development of extremist networks.
Standing Against Hate (Facebook Newsroom | March 2019)
“Facebook bans white nationalism, white separatism on its platforms” (Reuters | March 2019)
“Facebook bans white nationalism from platform after pressure from civil rights groups” (NBC News | March 2019)
Life After Hate
Millions form “women’s wall” for gender equality across Kerala
- Organizers reported that some five million participants turned out to form a 385-mile chain across the southwest Indian state of Kerala, stretching from Kasaragod in the north to Thiruvanthapuram in the south.
- Although the demonstration was broadly framed as promoting gender equality, it emerged following protests targeting women who attempt to enter the Sabarimala temple, a Hindu shrine that has historically banned women of “menstruating age” (defined as between the ages of 10 and 50).
- The ban was formally struck down in September 2018 by the Supreme Court after having been enforced judicially since 1991, but protesters have continued to prevent women from entering.
“Women form a fortress against gender inequality” (The Hindu | January 2019)
“Millions Of Women Formed A 385-Mile-Long “Women’s Wall” To Protest Gender Inequality” (BuzzFeed News | January 2019)
“Sabarimala temple: Indian women form ‘620km human chain’ for equality” (BBC News | January 2019)
Saudi flight academy opens applications to women as mobility restrictions lifted
- Oxford Aviation Academy has received hundreds of applications from women at its flight school branch in Dammam.
- The change comes as the government has lifted a decades-old ban that prohibited women from driving or traveling without permission.
- Despite the legal relaxations, women still face a number of mobility obstacles, including many derived from the country’s guardianship laws.
“Saudi aviation academy to train first women pilots” (Reuters | July 2018)
“The ban on Saudi women driving is ending: Here’s what you need to know” (CNN | June 2018)
“How Guardianship Laws Still Control Saudi Women” (The New York Times | June 2018)
Irish voters elect to overturn abortion ban
- Voters overwhelmingly chose to end the country’s constitutional ban on abortion, which had no exceptions for rape, incest, or fetal abnormality.
- The #RepealThe8th campaign challenged the constitutional amendment endowing the unborn with legal rights (ratified following a 1983 referendum), arguing that abortion has already been a reality in Ireland given its proximity to the U.K. and that access to safe treatment is a public health issue.
- Lawmakers will now introduce a bill to legalize the repeal officially, which is expected to be passed in the fall.
“Abortion referendum count: ‘quiet revolution’ as Yes set for landslide win” (The Irish Times | May 2018)
“Irish abortion referendum: Exit polls suggest landslide for repeal” (BBC News | May 2018)
“Ireland ends abortion ban as ‘quiet revolution’ transforms country” (Reuters | May 2018)
Darkening Beauty in India
Source: Dark is Beautiful Campaign/YouTube (October 2013)
In India, a cultural movement to tackle colorism has taken root, from challenging the pervasive preference for fair skin in romantic partners to reconstructing depictions of Hindu gods and goddesses using dark-skinned models. Skin-whitening practices are pervasive throughout the country and drive a multimillion-dollar industry, but activists and other community members are seeking to reaffirm beauty and value in darker-skinned people.
“Dark is divine: What colour are Indian gods and goddesses?” (BBC News | January 2018)
“Bleached girls: India and its love for light skin” (The Conversation | July 2017)
“India’s unfair obsession with lighter skin” (The Guardian | August 2013)
A Brown Girl’s Guide to Beauty (UnErase Poetry/YouTube | July 2017)
Dark Is Beautiful
Gender pay parity law comes into effect in Iceland
- Companies and public agencies with at least 25 employees will be required to obtain government certification of equal-pay practices or face fines.
- Iceland became the first country to mandate pay equality by legislation in 2017, with the law now in effect with the arrival of the new year.
- Since 2006, Iceland has closed 10% of its pay gap—one of the fastest improvement rates in the world—and pledged to eradicate it by 2020.
“In Iceland, it’s now illegal to pay men more than women” (Al Jazeera | January 2018)
“Iceland first nation to make pay equality a legal requirement” (The New Zealand Herald | January 2018)
“Iceland set to tackle gender pay gap with world’s toughest law” (BBC News | March 2017)
The Global Gender Gap Report 2017 (World Economic Forum)
Christians celebrate opening of Christmas market in Algiers
- Catholic international organization Caritas organized the market, which has seen contributions from Christians and Muslims alike as a result of increased advertisement in its second year.
- Algeria’s population is 99% Sunni Muslim but has seen an increase in its Christian minority as a result of the international diplomatic community and influx of sub-Saharan migrants from countries like Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso.
- Because proselytizing is legally forbidden, Algerian Christian organizations focus on social services in local communities as well as cultural exchange between the country’s Christian and Muslim communities.
“Christmas market opens in Algerian capital” (Reuters | December 2017)
“« Chrétiens d’Algérie », ils témoignent sans prosélytisme” (La Croix | October 2017, in French)
“Dans ‘Chrétiens d’Algérie-Sur les chemins de la rencontre’, Jean Dulon dévoile une ‘Algérie proche et fraternelle’” (The Huffington Post Maghreb | March 2017, in French)
Australian Parliament legalizes same-sex marriage following postal referendum
- With a near-unanimous vote, the House of Representatives voted to amend the Marriage Act to remove the barrier to marriage rights for same-sex couples, following a similar vote in the Senate.
- A postal referendum, the result of a controversial decision by the Tony Abbott–led government in 2015 to put the marriage right question to popular referendum, returned 61.6% of Australians voting in favor of removing orientation-based discrimination in marriage law.
- The Marriage Act had been amended in 2004 to deny same-sex couples the legal right to marriage.
“Marriage equality law passes Australia’s parliament in landslide vote” (The Guardian | December 2017)
“Same-sex marriage legalised in Australia as Parliament passes historic law” (The Sydney Morning Herald | December 2017)
“Same-sex marriage: First weddings take place in Melbourne, Sydney” (ABC News | December 2017)
Austria’s highest court recognizes same-sex marriage rights
- The Constitutional Court of Austria ruled that the country’s law banning same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.
- The law in question, introduced in 2009, allowed for registered partnerships but not full marriage for same-sex couples, creating discriminatory sex-based classes of partnership.
- The decision paves the way for same-sex couples in Austria to begin marrying in 2019, becoming the 16th European country to recognize same-sex marriage rights.
“Austria’s supreme court paves way for same-sex marriage from 2019” (Reuters | December 2017)
“Austrian Supreme Court rules in favour of same-sex marriage” (BBC News | December 2017)
“Austrian court rules same-sex couples can marry from 2019” (CNN | December 2017)
German parliament votes to legalize same-sex marriage
- The lower house voted to ratify marriage equality 393-296-4 in a year that has seen Germany attempting to redress historical injustices against its LGBT community.
- The vote followed Chancellor Angela Merkel’s softening of her party’s position and allowance of a conscience vote, permitting members of her party to break ranks and vote in favor of marriage equality.
- The vote extends full marriage rights to LGBT citizens, including adoption rights.
“German lawmakers approve same-sex marriage in landmark vote” (Reuters | June 2017)
“German Parliament Approves Same-Sex Marriage” (The New York Times | June 2017)
“German parliament votes to legalise same-sex marriage” (The Guardian | June 2017)
(Image Credit: Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters)
New database catalogs human rights violations for the Caribbean’s vulnerable communities
- The Shared Incidents Database (SID) will document violations affecting people with HIV, sex workers, people with substance addiction, gay and bisexual men, trans people, vulnerable youth, migrants, and the incarcerated.
- The database is a collaboration between the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) and the Centro de Orientación e Investigación Integral (COIN), based in the Dominican Republic.
- Human rights and social justice organizations across the Caribbean are being trained in the use of SID, which creators envision as a tool in program development, policy creation, petitioning, and reporting.
“Caribbean’s first online human rights database launched” (The Jamaica Observer | May 2017)
“New Database Aims to Track Rights Violations of Caribbean’s Most Vulnerable Communities” (Global Voices | May 2017)
“Caribbean’s First Online Human Rights Incidence Database Launched” (Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition | May 2017)
Italian MEP convicted of defamation for racist remarks
- Mario Borghezio was convicted for comments against former Italian MP Cécile Kyenge, Italy’s first black national minister.
- Borghezio had stated in a 2013 interview that Kyenge, who immigrated from the DRC, wanted to “impose her tribal traditions from the Congo” and was “a good housewife, but not a government minister.”
- Kyenge has faced numerous racial attacks as a result of her political visibility, and the ruling is the latest in a series of successful defamation cases she has brought.
“Northern League MEP must pay €50,000 to ex-minister over racial slurs” (The Local | May 2017)
“Italian in Europe’s Parliament Convicted of Defamation for Racial Insult” (The New York Times | May 2017)
“Italian MEP Cecile Kyenge: ‘I feel vindicated’” (BBC News | May 2017)
(Image Credit: Gianni Cipriano/The New York Times)