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Monday, October 03, 2011

Traveling While Non-White

A fascinating series of question-- and responses-- were posted in Reddit's travel section recently. The correspondant, who describes himself or herself as an ethnic Chinese who grew up in the U.S., is trying to figure out if it's better to travel abroad as a Chinese or an American citizen. I recall the brisk business in little Canadian flags that American travelers used to sew on their backpacks and jackets at one time-- mostly when there were especially hated and warlike American presidents like Nixon, Reagan and Bush. I'm not sure how far Obama has moved in that direction.

The questions, though, aren't just about Chinese people, not by a long shot.
I'm wondering if non-white travelers face additional challenges while traveling, whether it's racism, unwanted attention, unexpected assumptions by the locals, etc.

For instance:

• What kind of discrimination would non-white travelers face in overwhelmingly white countries like Poland or Russia?

• Are blacks able to blend in while visiting Africa? How about Latinos in Latin America and the Caribbean?

• Are Asians subject to the vicious inter-Asian rivalries while traveling in Asian countries? Do the locals try in vain to converse in their native language?

• Are Indians treated well in Pakistan and vice versa? Do Arabs or Iranians get refused service in Israel?

And, of course, it's the 100+ responses that make the link above worth clicking. No matter what race you are, you'll find these shared experiences worthwhile.

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