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Culture, South America, Travel, Uncategorized

Culture shock!… Why am I being stared at?!

I'm human afterall!!

I’m human after all!!

This morning and indeed afternoon, I was in a bubble!

It’s my first time in Buenos Aires! I was happily seeing the city with my host Jerry. I took every stare from passers by as an innocent glance; they must like what I’m wearing!

Then my host had to go so I was left exploring alone… And that’s when things went down hill!

As much as I hate using the following phrases;

“its coz I’m black”

or

“its coz I’m a woman”

OR

“its coz I’m a black woman!”

sometimes, I fail to realise, before I’m a free-spirited traveller, I am a black woman, and many people will put place their judgement on what they see.

In an incident I experienced this afternoon, I began to wonder if it occurred because I was walking alone…

Some uneducated, socially-backward sad excuse of a person, thought it cool to get my attention by sticking a condom in my face! I was so embarrassed.

And he had the nerve to follow me to see if he’d get lucky!

Thankfully, “F* off” is a universal word so he finally got the gist, after “have some respect!” failed to work.

But from that moment on, my innocent ‘happy to be here’ bubble was burst.

I noticed every car beep, every shout out the car window by drivers, and every gesture and mumble from men to get my attention as I hurriedly walked by!

Every double take to get a glimpse at me was like a lion planing its attack on its prey!

So, I had to wear my “don’t mess with this black girl attitude” to avoid actually being approached again! I looked straight ahead, avoided any eye contact, and had to put on a screw face like you see bad guys wear in movies! Why should it be this way?!

But this was my only defence mechanism to stop myself being approach by backward uneducated losers. And I’m sad to say there are too many of them in this city… Or there happened to be a large concentration of them in my path (or, option suitable for my Spanish friend; “they just follow me; because I’m beautiful!”)

Yes, this was the response my Spaniard friend gave after I ranted about it on Facebook;

“be happy! They approach you because they think you’re beautiful!”

Really? I beg to defer.

I don’t have a problem being approached.

It’s HOW I’m approached!

I don’t need approval from desperate men to know I’m beautiful- they can keep their opinion to themselves until they learn some social manners!!

When a man wants to approach a woman he finds beautiful, he does so respectfully and strategically. In fact he may even be too scared to approach her in the first place!

However, when a man thinks a girl is cheap and easy, he doesn’t need to think twice about what garbage comes out of his mouth!

This is the way I was made to feel this afternoon walking back to the apartment.

“Thanks for the compliment guys… Your actions have made me feel cheap and dirty!”

I was so relieved to get indoors off the streets!

I couldn’t help thinking;

“why the hell do I bother travelling to places where people don’t look like me if I’m made to feel this way?”

But isn’t the point of travelling to also break down social boundaries?…

Do people really need to stare so much to let me know ‘I’m different from them?’

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About @makingkai

Life is a bit more colourful since I discovered blogging! thanks for following my journey! www.travelmakerkai.com www.theefedstudent.wordpress.com

Discussion

18 thoughts on “Culture shock!… Why am I being stared at?!

  1. Interesting, I never got any weird stares from people in Buenos Aires. I was expecting that I would because people in Chile stared at me A LOT. So naturally I thought it would be same in Argentina, but in my case it wasn’t. I didn’t experience any racism or odd treatment. When I walked through Recoleta, the really rich and snobby area, I caught a few looks from people, I imagine it’s not every day you see blacks walking through there.

    From what I hear, Kai, Argentine guys are aggressive like that to ALL women, even their own. Most of them have Italian background and I guess it’s that whole Italian stallion thing. I remember meeting an Argentine dude at a hostel in San Francisco and he was acting like a stalker to the women in the hostel. The dudes in Italy are the same way from what girls tell me. If you were white with long blonde hair and blue eyes you’d have gotten the same treatment. Almost everyone in Argentina looks the same, olive skin with dark brown hair and eyes, so if any woman shows up that’s different, they will get hounded. So I don’t think it’s because you’re black per se, it’s because you’re *different*. Trust me, they’d do the same if you were Japanese.

    Don’t let it ruin your time! Just look at it as another strange and exotic experience. Remember, in some places, black women are pretty much ignored by most white men even if they are beautiful, such as N. America. So the extremes go in both directions.

    Posted by Chris | January 14, 2013, 7:21 pm
    • Hi Chris! Yes, Chile was the same but it was just stares- no actions. I’ve ruled out racism- it’s ‘differentism’ lol!! But in this case, it wasn’t just the stares but the aggressive (sexual) manner men had towards me- almost primitive ‘animal-like’ lol (I can laugh now but at the time I didn’t find it funny at all)! I tried to look passed it yesterday, went I went out to a local market… Things weren’t so much different! I heard a guy at a stall call; “some water, coca-cola… a boyfriend?” For such an advanced city, some people do act kinda backward, excuse me.

      Posted by @makingkai | January 14, 2013, 7:50 pm
  2. love this post! really sorry about the condom incident though :(

    Posted by simchaeveryday | January 15, 2013, 2:05 pm
  3. Being different will be always harder to go unnoticed, but living differently than main stereotypes is worthwile the effort. Hope you will enjoy your stay !

    Posted by fefulowe | January 15, 2013, 7:49 pm
  4. Reblogged this on A Black Girl's White World… and commented:
    A personal account of a black girls experience in Buenos Aires… Were the stares out of curiosity or were they a disguise of racism?..

    Posted by @makingkai | January 22, 2013, 12:39 am
  5. Hello Kai,

    I am sorry to read your account on the guy putting a condom in your face, some guys ( no matter were they are in the world) have no RESPECT!

    I do agree with the comment left, stating that it was because you were different rather then a black thing. However there is no excuse to luck of respect and primitive behaviour

    Hope you enjoyed the rest of the stay.

    Posted by Sarah Moorgen | January 24, 2013, 8:58 pm
  6. Oh sugar!

    I know my comment is a month late, but what the heck!

    Seriously, what in the world? A condom in your face! What the hell!!!! I was so outraged reading this.

    All I can say to you is, ‘You are beautiful inside & out and beauty attracts all kinds’.

    Knowing you, this incident did not deter you from travelling. :-)

    Am glad you’re okay though :-)

    Posted by Grace Kabo | February 13, 2013, 3:48 am
  7. Your post reminds me of when I was in Peru. Didn’t have a condom in my face but I was leered at, whistled at, honked at etc. And I couldn’t understand why. In Peru I had hoped to disappear into the foreigner category. FAIL. This body and what people attach it = no escaping blackness. LOL

    Posted by Brown Girl | February 26, 2013, 1:09 am
    • Has your experience put you off visiting Peru again? Or any other country where you’re likely to be stared at in an uncomfortable why?

      Posted by @makingkai | February 26, 2013, 6:35 pm
      • No. I loved Peru. I had a great time there. And I was more curious to understand why the men had such a reaction to black women. People kept saying oh it is because you are beautiful but some of the comments made me think that the attention reflected a view about black women that wasn’t necessarily flattering i.e. better bodies, better sex, prostitute, easy…. etc.

        But I had a great time inspite of. :)

        Posted by Brown Girl | February 26, 2013, 9:05 pm
  8. Hi Kai!
    I’m a 28yo Black woman living in Toronto. My partner is French. We planned a HUGE trip: Europe for a month and a half, South East Asia (Malaysia, Bali and Lombok) also for a month and the Middle East (Doha, Qatar) for a week.
    I’he always wanted to travel. This is huge for me but the stares are REALLY getting to me! At first I thought all travelers got stared at and then I noticed other travelers staring at us as well then I thought oh OK, maybe its because we’re an interracial couple. Its now dawned on me that they’re staring at me because I am Black! Its extremely frustrating! We’re only a month into our trip (we have 2 more months of traveling) and I’m tired of the stares. I’ve had a few spats with people already asking “what the fuck are you staring at!?!”
    I just want to enjoy my life long dream but these staring eyes won’t let me!
    Anyone has any tips on how to enjoy our trip without getting constantly pissed off?!

    Posted by Kel | May 2, 2013, 4:32 am
    • Oh Kel, I feel your frustration!

      Even when I was in Rio- a multicultural melting pot- I still got stared at and whispering remarks when I was out with my Italian friend. He didn’t understand why it got to me, which made me even more frustrated!

      I joined a group for black travellers on the couchsurfing website and posted my experience in Buenos Aires on there. I just needed a space to vent out to be honest. Most of the responses were supportive. Others simply said you can’t change how people think so just get on with it! Looking back I wish I hadn’t let people’s reaction towards me spoil my visit to BA so much. But at the time, I was literally ready to get the next flight out!

      You’re probably heard this already, but my only advice is to ignore the stares and put your energies into making the most of your trip. It sounds like an amazing trip (I wish I was doing it!) People will stare anywhere in the world- sad truth! Experiences like these make us tougher. A quote my host in BA gave me by Che Guevera “Get tough without ever losing your tenderness” I kept that in mind. Gosh, it feels so strange giving advice when I struggled for just 10 days facing the BA public!

      I don’t know if you’re a spiritual person? Ironically, I’m not very spiritual, however when things got though I asked God/ the universe to throw some positive energy my way to help me see things differently…

      You’re on an amazing journey with your partner. I really hope you enjoy this dream trip to the max. And don’t let the ignorant people staring get you down.

      Sending positive vibes your way!
      Kx

      Posted by @makingkai | May 2, 2013, 8:44 am
      • That was a great response! It actually lifted my spirit! You should be a motivational speaker Kai :-)
        I’m actually motivated to get on with my trip and try not to get so frustrated. I’m on couch surfing as well! We host and surf! I’m gonna join that group right now! Our member name is KelzYann. I’d love to keep in touch. Thanks again, I feel so much better.

        Posted by Kel | May 2, 2013, 10:25 am

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: “Get tough without ever losing your tenderness.” -Che Guevara. « Travel Making Kai - January 15, 2013

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