“What is it like for African-Americans in Saudi Arabia?”
“How have you been treated?”
“As a Black woman how are you accepted?”
I frequently receive emails with these types of questions. Too many really. Not in the sense that I mind answering, but in the sense that it’s a damn shame we still have to learn if someplace is; safe, accepting, tolerant, etc., of black people. So, I thought I’d take a moment to answer the questions.
The answer that I’m prone to giving is, “You won’t be treated any worse than you would be in the United States.”
My interactions with Saudi’s are limited to bureaucratic functions, shopping, and social events. But, I can still share my experience.
I can only think of one negative experience that I’ve had with a Saudi.
On the other hand, the incidents of micro aggressions by Americans is at an all-time high. Things that might not be said in the States for fear of repercussions that could lead to an altercation might be said to you here. For example, the [you know what] who when introduced to me as a fellow American, she looked me up and down and said, “Southern American” then rolled her eyes and turned her back. I was ready to tell her, “Thanks for the warning,” when I decided, “Terri, just walk away.” But, this is the kind of micro aggressive antics you may experience from some Americans. I don’t want to run down every incident, I am just giving an example.
Outside of Americans, I once had a South African guy tell me, “I don’t like black people, but I like you.” This man thought he was giving me a compliment. I told him, “I don’t view that as a compliment.” And, he tried to explain himself, but I left the conversation. And, though he was ignorant, he wasn’t being vicious or mean. That seems to be reserved for the Americans, to my disappointment. However, the thing they all have in common is that they’re Caucasian expats.
I have found living in Saudi Arabia to be an eye-opening experience in regards to so-called race relations. I have read numerous articles, blog post, etc., that discuss racism in Saudi and how negatively, Blacks, Africans, or dark skinned Arabs are treated. I think that individual circumstances determine how you’re treated. I think that black Americans have a different experience than Africans.
I conclude with surmising that as a Black American, based on my personally experience if you experience any racially related antics, it will probably be from another expat, and more likely an American.
I hope this helps and until next time….