Womans viral Twitter picture shows what its like travelling while being a black woman

Yasmin in Alice Springs - Australia

Yasmin in Alice Springs, Australia where she was asked if she was a cleaner while enjoying a stay at a fancy hotel (Picture: Yasmin Joseph)

Many people have spoken out about the reality of travelling while black – the experience is uniquely different from other travellers.

Some black travellers experience overt racism and catcalling, as well as frequent microaggressions – well-intentioned or absent-minded actions that can be hostile, derogatory, or negatively prejudicial in some way.

One black woman who wanted to highlight the severity tweeted a picture of something that happens to her a lot – people staring.

Yasmin Joseph, a playwright and producer from London shared an image of herself while she travelled solo throughout Malaga, Spain.

She asked followers to zoom into the background of the picture where two European-looking people were seen straining their neck to watch her.

What resulted from the post was a series of other black people who shared similar experiences of being gawked at while they lived their life.



The looks are so prevalent that Yasmin has to consider which countries are not accustomed to seeing people of colour before she visits.

Though she said it was exhausting to see this happen all the time, Yasmin tells shes not discouraged from travelling and urgers others not to be either.

Yasmin in Morocco

Yasmin in Morocco. Yasmin is conscious of what she wears because of how her body is viewed (Picture: Yasmin Joseph)

She explains: This happens to me most places I go to in the world so sometimes its refreshing when I go to black countries like in the Caribbean or when Im somewhere its normal to be black and I can just sink in and explore.

Although I am different from the people there, theres just not that feeling of being treated like youre in a zoo as with European countries.

Yasmin received an overwhelming number of responses from people sharing the same type of story.

She adds: The repercussions of those people staring and how their body language makes black people feel when they occupy those spaces, is that they can actually make people feel unsafe. Lots of messages Ive received have been of this vein.

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Its exhausting having to confront people. Just mind your own business and let people enjoy their lives.



Yasmin thinks the pictures shared are telling of the way black womens bodies are viewed.

She adds: As a curvy woman going into a pool, people stare and its almost like my body is impolite like its an imposition and theyre like “how dare you bring that to the pool as I sit here with my family?”.

People look at you until you feel uncomfortable and you have to push through and it can take its toll.

But there are some nuances to travelling while black, she adds. When shes with her boyfriend, the male presence can help to curtail the number of microaggressions, although they often manifest in other ways.

When shes with her female black friends, it can be amplified.

In places where strangers have taken her picture without permission, Yasmin has had to confront them, asking them what it is about her that makes a picture so compelling.

Yasmin remembers an incident in Dubai where she was holidaying with family and a woman asked to take a picture of her. When she asked why, the woman replied saying she enjoyed Yasmins style and that she was beautiful.

While Yasmin could appreciate the sentiment, she didnt like the idea of strangers storing images of her nor the feeling of being a spectacle.

She adds: Its a sense of entitlement. People feel really offended when you dont want to partake.

They dont care about the holiday youve paid for or the solitude youve actively sought for by travelling alone. They feel that them finding you attractive should be more important than what you want to do with your day, that its more important than your privacy.

Yasmin in Dominica

In countries with a large black population, Yasmin feels like she can blend in and explore (Picture: Yasmin Joseph)

Yasmin notes that it happens in European countries more than others. While she would like to say something in certain scenarios, it detracts from her holiday and takes away her own enjoyment from it, having to explain whats wrong with the behaviour each time.


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