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
Asylum-seekers increasingly attempt dangerous cross-Channel trek to the U.K.
- Patrol operations in the English Channel have led to the rescue of asylum-seekers attempting to reach the U.K. by small boats, which French and British officials claim is driven by organized smuggling.
- More than 200 have arrived in the U.K. by water since November, which represents more than a tenfold increase from last year.
- Migrants have begun turning to aquatic travel as the British and French governments have increasingly targeted land-based vehicles for inspection and closed shelter camps.
“More migrants and refugees try to reach UK via English Channel” (Al Jazeera | December 2018)
“Five migrant boats rescued in English Channel” (BBC News | December 2018)
“Migrants risk death at sea to reach Britain as prices spike on traditional routes” (CNN | December 2018)
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)
U.A.E. airline issues travel ban on Tunisian women
- Emirates, the U.A.E.’s national airline, barred Tunisian women from its flights, necessitating Tunisian government intervention to help stranded passengers.
- A presidential spokesperson indicated that the Emirati government had issued the directive in response to information indicating women with a Tunisian passport would attempt a terrorist attack.
- In response, Tunisia banned Emirates from landing in its capital, Tunis.
“Attack fears prompted UAE-Tunisia female passenger row” (BBC News | December 2017)
“UAE has information Tunisian women may commit ‘terrorist acts’, Tunisia says” (Reuters | December 2017)
“Tunisia suspends Emirates flights over security measures targeting women” (Agence France-Presse, via The Guardian | December 2017)
Panama announces plans to crack down on immigration from Colombia, Venezuela, and Nicaragua
- Panamanian officials have announced new restrictions on immigration from the three countries, including conducting financial checks and shortening the duration of tourist permits from 180 days to 90 days.
- Anti-immigration sentiment has grown over the last year, with Colombians and Venezuelans particularly targeted and maligned as connected to drug trafficking and other crime in the country.
- Around 250,000 have immigrated to Panama from the three countries since 2010.
“Panama to Crack Down on Immigration, Colombians and Venezuelans” (teleSUR | May 2017)
“Panama cuts stays for Colombians, Venezuelans, Nicaraguans” (The Associated Press via The Washington Post | May 2017)
“Panama to tighten immigration policy for Colombia, Venezuela, Nicaragua” (Reuters | May 2017)
North Korea and Malaysia institute exit bans on each other’s citizens
- North Korea’s frustration at Malaysia’s handling of the investigation into the murder of the half-brother of leader Kim Jong Un led to the announcement of a ban on the departure of Malaysian nationals from the country.
- Malaysian PM Najib Razak responded by initially banning the departure of North Korean diplomatic staff before extending it to all North Koreans.
- Two people—an Indonesian woman and a Vietnamese woman—have been charged in the homicide, though they claim they believed to have been taking part in a prank.
“Kim Jong-nam death: Malaysia and N Korea in tit-for-tat exit bans” (BBC News | March 2017)
“North Korea, Malaysia’s diplomatic ties frayed over Kim Jong Nam’s death” (CNN | March 2017)
“Malaysia says talks on with North Korea for return of nine citizens” (Reuters | March 2017)
(Image Credit: Lai Seng Sin/Reuters)
Hundreds storm gate to Morocco-Spain border at Ceuta exclave
- The autonomous Spanish enclave of Ceuta, one of only two land borders between Africa and Europe, saw some 850 sub-Saharan migrants and asylum-seekers scaling barbed wire fences along the five-mile border between Morocco and Spain to reach the immigration center inside.
- The city, located on the northwest coast of Morocco, has long been the site of attempts to cross into Europe, although strong security forces have kept most attempts at bay.
- The event follows a similar—though unsuccessful—one from New Year’s Day, when more than 1,000 attempted to breach the gate.
“Los saltos en la valla de Ceuta se duplican tras la amenaza de Marruecos” (El País | February 2017)
“Morocco uses migrant crisis as leverage in EU free trade dispute” (France24 | February 2017)
“Risking Injury and Arrest, African Migrants Storm a Gate to Europe” (The New York Times | February 2017)
(Image Credit: Jesus Moron/Associated Press, via The New York Times)