#WanderWomen: Lifting Up Black Voices in the Expat Community

The recent protests sparked by the murder of George Floyd have brought an important and hard conversation to the forefront. I’m hopeful something good can come from the righteous anger that’s risen to the surface, but it’s clear real action is needed to further the fight for justice and equality. There are countless women of color in the travel space who don’t get nearly as much shine as they deserve. So, I want to discover: Who are they? Where are they? How do they navigate life abroad? In the spirit of celebrating Black content creators and expats around the world, the upcoming #WanderWomen features will be more representative of these women doing amazing work abroad. I’m so excited to share their expat stories and work.

The #WanderWomen series highlights diverse women around the globe every Wednesday who took a leap of faith to leave comfort and familiarity behind and embrace expat life. In some cases, it was to find themselves, love, work, or something else entirely. I hope these stories ignite the inner adventurer in you, to remember that no matter where you start over, there’s a new home waiting for you if you’re up for it!



Meet Christine

Meet Christine Job. Originally from the US, she’s been living in Barcelona for the past two years where she runs Flourish in the Foreign, a weekly podcast that “elevates and affirms the stories of Black women who live and thrive abroad.” After graduating from law school in Florida, she worked as a business coach and consultant. In Spain, she’s now using her platform to lift up other women’s expat stories, highlighting their ‘triumphs, tribulations, and how they created a flourishing life abroad.’ Learn about her experience living abroad as Black woman in Spain, her advice for other Black women wanting to make the big move overseas, and ways people can spring to action to combat inequality and racism.

I’m always curious about how it started for the expats I meet. Was there a particular moment or revelation that made you move abroad?

There was no one moment that pushed me to move to Spain. I’ve always wanted to live abroad and I’ve traveled extensively internationally since I was 10 years old. Walking the Camino de Santiago in 2014 made me really fall in love with Spain. After returning from that trip, I started putting the gears in motion for my eventual move in 2017. 

How long have you been living in Barcelona? What are your favorite things about being there? Your least favorite things?

I’ve been living in Barcelona for 2 years. Some of my favorite things about being in Barcelona is being super close to the sea (I live 5 minutes walking from the beach). Although Barcelona is pretty cosmopolitan, the lifestyle is still pretty relaxed and laid-back. I also really enjoy how well-connected the city is, the metro system is good and there are a lot of direct international flights to Barcelona.

Some of my least favorite things about Barcelona are definitely the water quality and air pollution. The water pipes are super old and the water is very hard. Having calcium build-ups in your faucets or shower-heads is very typical. 

With the events going on in the world right now bringing social justice issues and racism to the surface, what would you like my readers to know if they’re wanting to spring to action instead of staying passive in this fight?

I think your readers have to first do their own research. Do not expect Black people to educate you and answer your questions. There are professionals/educators on race who can help you, seek them out, and pay them for their books/services. But Black people, in general, do not and should not do the emotional labor of helping you become anti-racist. Also for your non-POC readers, please NEVER try to “whitesplain” race, discrimination, prejudice to a POC. It will not end well and you will just showcase your ignorance and inability to actively listen and actually be an ally. 

VERY IMPORTANT:

Support Black businesses, Black Art, Black Creatives, Black chefs, Black scientists, Black writers,  Black podcasts, etc! Black American culture has given the world SO MUCH! Usually for free or severely discounted/ripped off. Pay the people that are the generators of so much culture–global culture.  Don’t just follow them on Instagram and stream their content, but pay them. Put your money where your mouth is. 

I think it’s important to not look at recent events and think “oh that’s an American problem, that only happens in the US”. Racism and police brutality is a universal problem. There are Black people that have been brutalized in Belgium, just because there were no marches does not mean that it didn’t/doesn’t happen. Ask yourself these questions (source: instagram.com/iamtabithabrown): 

Ask yourself how many Black businesses you support? Do you know of any? 
Call out your colleagues when they say something racist. 
Call out your friends when they say something racist. 
Call out your family when they say something racist. 
If you haven’t spoken out at all this week/last week or whenever there have been incidents of racism and police brutality, ask yourself why?
If you feel uncomfortable using your platform/position to speak out for Justice, ask yourself why?
If you feel comfortable posting about the women’s march and climate march but not about just for Black lives, ask yourself why?

Look around your office and count the number of Black colleagues you see. Don’t substitute women for visible minorities, by saying “we embrace diversity, most of our employees are women”. It’s not the same thing. These are two very real fights, but you don’t get to substitute one for the other. Take a moment and reflect on your childhood/school days and think about all the times that racism was apparent, jokes about, and a part of everyday life. Sit with that.

What is the advice you would give younger Black women based on your experiences?

The advice I would give younger Black women about living abroad is if you have the opportunity, do it! If you don’t have the opportunity, make one. It is so important to go out and see the world for yourself and make your own conclusions.

It’s also vital to see other ways of living so that as you build your career and life, you are truly cultivating an experience you want, not just settling for whatever is the norm in your country.

Definitely work on your language skills and have a solid portfolio of marketable skills with enough emotional intelligence to be able to adapt to different cultural norms.

Would you say Europe – and Spain – have a long way to go in terms of equality and treatment of minorities?

Definitely, I feel that Europeans have a very convenient disconnection to the residue of their ancestors’ colonization of the world. I find the Spanish specifically to be woefully ignorant of the effects of their colonial empire and you can see it in how some Spanish people treat Latin Americans in almost a mocking way because they come to Spain with their “funny accents” and clutching a rosary (that the Spanish gave them in their forced religious conversions centuries ago) hoping for a better life. However, I think that is pretty universal in Europe–convenient amnesia of their plundering of the world and the generational effects that has caused.

I think Spain does have a long way to go in its treatment of minorities, you could be 2nd or 3rd generation “Chinese-Spanish” and the Spanish would not think of you as one of them. It’s something that is actually discussed in the 1st episode of my podcast with Niana, where she discusses being an English teacher and having only 1 black student in her class. And how that student would cry to her about how her classmates would treat her.

I also believe that “passport privilege” is a big thing here in Spain.

Passport privilege” – how does that manifest itself there?

I’ve had some experiences where some Spanish people might make an assumption when they first see me, like “oh what does this Black girl want”, but as soon as open my mouth they know I’m a foreigner (I’m working on my Spanish lol) they immediately become intrigued, and when they find out I’m American ($$$), they’re entire attitude changes and becomes demonstrably more welcoming and warm. And to be honest, I’m not super comfortable with that “privilege”. I’m more like “keep that same energy”, if you didn’t “like” me because I’m Black, don’t be nice now that you know I’m a Black American. There are a lot of African immigrants in Spain, who have lived here way longer than I have and speak perfect Spanish. There is no reason why they should not be respected in this country and there is no reason why I, as an American, should be given more respect as if I’m a cool novelty item. 

What do you want people to know about the Black Expat community abroad? 

When you talk about how terrible it is that people are treated differently based on skin color, recognize that this acknowledgment means that people can be policed differently based on the color of their skin. 

I want people to know that the Black ex-pat community is not a monolith.

The Black ex-pat community is made up of people from everywhere, living anywhere for a variety of reasons. There is not a “typical Black ex-pat”. Also, Black people moving and living abroad is not a new phenomenon, it’s just getting more coverage and people are taking notice. *Advice: If you ask a Black person where they are from and they tell you, DO NOT say, “no, where are you really from?” We are not trying to trick you, we simply answered your question in a way that you were not expecting.

Who are some of your favorite Black Instagram content creators right now?

Here are some of my favorite Travel/Expat influencers:

@brownbelleabroad

@chronicles_abroad

@theblackexpat

@pickygirlstravels

@thejackieolife

@bwtpod

@lasmorenasdeespanamade 

Check out and support Christine’s podcast via the links below:


Facebook page

Instagram

Spotify

Patreon

Do you have an expat story worth sharing or know someone who should be featured? Please reach out to me for more information.

FOR MORE #WANDERWOMEN STORIES, HEAD HERE.

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