Travelling While Black

Discussion in 'Travel and Vacation Destinations' started by OckyDub, Sep 21, 2016.

  1. OckyDub

    OckyDub is a Verified MemberOckyDub Fair Use Nigga....Fair Use
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    DAVID MALEBRANCHE·WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2016
    Picture this.

    Twelve Black American same gender-loving men, ages ranging from 32 to early 50’s, converging in Barcelona, Spain to celebrate one of our own’s 50th anniversary of life on this earth. Complexions ranging from high yella to deep chocolate. Educator. Lawyer. Teacher. Physicians. Massage Therapist. Businessmen. Academic. Writer. Contractor. Therapist. Real Estate Agent. Financial Planner. A virtual cornucopia of talent.
    Picture us floating seamlessly through this metropolitan European city - enjoying its picturesque architecture, bountiful restaurants, and endless history. The air boasts a crisp 75 degrees as we enjoy this warm Autumn day. Eating. Drinking. Shopping. Loving on each other in the way that only Black same gender-loving men in our family can. Buoyant. Fierce. Shady. Glowing. Unapologetic.

    The final stop of our day is a restaurant connected to the W Hotel Barcelona. We emerge from our taxis to embrace a tangerine-kissed sunset over the ocean. The building is magnificent, towering over us as it invites us in like a warm hug from a grandmother. We partake in a glorious meal with amazing service. Laughing. Loving. Crying tears of joy in recognition and celebration of our dear friend. We leave the restaurant to head upstairs to the bar/lounge portion of the hotel to continue our joyful night. We choose not to mention the stares that follow this unicorn group of Black men navigating these hotel hallways – but we are cognizant of each and every one.

    The lounge is loud, with purple-red hued lights and ornate feathered fixtures cradling us in their warmth. An intoxicating mix of soulful house music blares from the speakers overhead as we nestle ourselves into a circular eggshell-white couch in the lounge’s corner. We order drinks and receive them in a timely manner. We toast our friend and start playing The Alphabet Game to see if our improvisational skills are intact. We barely notice the security guard who passes by our group twice just to glare and observe.
    We are having so much fun we almost forget who we are – Black bodies in a white space.
    A thick Indian security guard approaches our area, sporting a skin hue darker than some of ours, and motions both his hands in a downward fashion.

    “Quiet down,” he quips, then walks away.

    The music and white noise from the other non-Black patrons carry on uninterrupted. We continue to joke but lower our voices - partially startled by his words and gesture, and partially being mindful of our presence in a foreign country and the real reason why we are all there. Not long after he leaves a few of us start verbalizing what we were all thinking.

    “Did he really just come up and say that?”
    “We’re no louder than the music playing or these other people.”
    “I know that didn’t just happen.”

    As if on cue, the same security guard returns, this time with a thin-framed blond white man. His intentions were to repeat his assertion for us to “quiet down,” despite the fact that we already had. Before he could speak, one of us asks the question.

    “Why exactly did you ask us to 'quiet down’?”
    He pauses to carefully survey all of us.
    “We received a complaint from a patron staying at the hotel about the noise. They couldn't sleep.”

    The house music blares overhead in a relentless fashion as other non-Black patrons pass behind him - laughing, being loud and human with no intrusion. We continue with our inquisition.

    “How could someone in a hotel room hear noise from down here?”
    “Do you hear those other people being just as loud as us?”
    “Exactly how did someone in a guest room hearing 'noise’ pinpoint that it was specifically us?”

    The security guard looks like a pathetic deer in headlights, not having considered any resistance regarding his flimsy justification for accosting us. Our Brooklyn Real Estate Agent gets impatient.

    “Can you get your manager? We’d like to speak to them.”

    The security guard returns with a frumpy middle-aged white man who obviously isn’t thrilled with the prospect of having to explain this lie to us face-to-face.

    “We received complaints about noise from a hotel guest that they couldn't sleep.”
    Apparently repeating the same vague illogical statement works for many anti-Black missionaries carrying out their duties. The redundant explanation doesn’t fly with us, so we offer a couple of solutions for his “noise” problem.
    “Why don't you have the DJ turn the music down?”
    “Why don’t you ask the entire lounge area to 'quiet down' as well?”

    We engage these men in a civil and non-confrontational manner. They have no substantive answers for our questions and suggestions, yet appear exceedingly surprised that this group of Black men are pushing back to contest their fabricated assertions. Even our server, Victor, comes over, asking what is wrong. I tell him, to which he replies “That's crazy. You're not being loud.” Another member of our group, the therapist, chimes in and doesn’t mince words.

    “We feel like we are being unfairly targeted because we are Black.”
    “No sir, we do not do that,” says the security guard.
    “That's not what is going on here, I'm sorry you feel that way,” adds the manager. His nonchalant manner suggests this is not his first time at the racial rodeo.

    They exit. No apologies. No customer service. Nothing. The loud music continues. The lounge noise carries on. We can’t, however, trying desperately to talk through the situation among ourselves to make sure we weren’t crazy or over-reacting.

    We weren’t. This was happening. While not being directly asked to leave, they were successful at making us feel uncomfortable and not wanting to further patronize their establishment.

    We ask Victor to close out our tab. He returns with complimentary shots for all of us, desperately trying to defuse the situation and make amends for his co-workers’ craziness. A few of us in the group don’t want to placate his gesture, but we all quickly agree that he’s not the problem - so we accept his gift.

    “I’m so sorry,” he repeats multiple times while handing out the drinks. We would not see the manager again.
    We pay Victor and calmly exit the building, noticing that the level immediately above the lounge comprises conference rooms, not guest rooms. Curious how “noise” travels. Outside the revolving doors, the Indian security guard stands chatting it up with another guard. He watches us methodically pass by him single file. None of us say a word or even acknowledge his presence. The silence is deafening.

    Global systems regard Black people as lesser and Black lives as expendable. The hotel manager who lies to justify his discomfort with Black bodies in white spaces is no different from police officers who fabricate threatening narratives to justify murdering Black lives in any spaces. They just comprise different points along a white supremacist trauma continuum. It’s bad enough we have to deal with this while traveling internationally, but deplorable to understand fully that returning home will pose an even greater threat.

    Picture this. A group of twelve talented Black same gender-loving men enter a cramped dive bar in the gay section of Barcelona at one-thirty in the morning. We are emotionally exhausted from just being profiled. The staff greets us with robust “Holas” as our feet walk over beer-sticky floors to settle in rickety chairs and flimsy tables. We order more drinks. We talk. We laugh. We sing. We affirm our #blackboymagic and comfort each other as only we can. We plan to forget about this W Barcelona Hotel experience while simultaneously planning to make sure they won’t ever forget us.

    Picture that.

    Comments
    [​IMG]
    Michael P. Saunders
    I'm not sure whether to be more Sad, Hurt or Angry. The crazy part about it is that as surprised as I should be I'm not. The United States is "Supposed" to be "The Major World Power" and Leader in Democracy and if the world watches how We as a country treat our African American / Black Citizens they way we do; then why shouldn't everybody else treat us this way...
    3 · 6 hours ago
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    Curt Harris
    Powerful. May I share?
    6 hours ago
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    David Malebranche
    Curt Harris - share as widely as you wish.
    2 · 6 hours ago
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    Joseph Merritt
    The mixture of emotions I had reading this left me concerned for my future as a gay man. A BLACK gay man. The level of disrespect is unfathomable. It hurts. It stings. It makes you question yourself. I'm glad you were able to share this experience and bring to the light the issues STILL plaguing us
    6 hours ago
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    Cj Allen
    Such an ugly encounter, whether overseas or here at home. From your great retelling of this, I felt like i was actually in the lounge with you guys. Hopefully the rest of your trip was all that you, Marlon and the rest of your squad wanted and will return great memories. This doesn't sound like the Spain we loved but like everything, the times have changed and clearly not for the better.
    6 hours ago
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    Keith L. Smith
    I hope you each contact Starwood's corporate office to complain and request compensation. This needs to be addressed!
    1 · 6 hours ago
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    Walter Smith
    [​IMG]. That's insane. But on a lighter note....#squadgoals.
    6 hours ago
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    Joyce Eleane Balls-Berry
    Love this! May I share
    6 hours ago
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    David Malebranche
    Absolutely. Thank u!
    1 · 5 hours ago
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    Dee LaMarr
    I find it absolutely crazy how other countries can come to the UN and (rightfully) criticize the police brutality, but yet allow the blatant discrimination against blacks in their own countries. Sorry this happened, but the trip still sounded lovely!
    1 · 6 hours ago
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    Mariotta Gary-Smith
    my heart & arms hold you & your wonderful companions in love and solidarity, my fav. i'm pissed (& yet sadly not surprised) to hear of this in a city i planned to return to soon - know that your experience did not fall on deaf ears.
    6 hours ago
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    Dg Goodwin
    I read this and felt a gamut of emotions. It went from shock, to dismay to anger. I have visited Barcelona and I have never experienced such but I know it exists from things I've heard and read. It is disheartening to know that we are viewed as a "threat" in some capacity no matter where we go. I am glad you guys accosted such blatant bigotry head on. Maybe they'll think twice before trying that again. Other than this, it appears as though you gents have been having a great time!
    1 · 6 hours ago
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    Christopher Beckwith
    Wow! I agree that this needs to be addressed! I hate to admit it but I was envious of you guys when I first saw Marlon's posts about the fabulous birthday trip! It was a loving envy thought as I was TOTALLY happy that you all were able to express you love for Marlon in such a beautiful way. It's just so sad that something so troubling would happen on such a BEAUTIFUL trip! Had you guys been thrown out, this would have been a HUGE hit to the deep pockets of the Starwood corporation!
    5 hours ago
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    Paul Brett
    It might also be an "American thing" more so than a "Black thing". Indeed, vice versa or both? Having lived in Europe for 5 years, I noticed that a lot of Europeans hate Americans because of America's brand of politics and how they affect the rest of t...See More
    5 hours ago · Edited
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    David Malebranche
    Naw... We have witnessed many LOUD white Europeans and Americans while here. And they are catered to, not told to 'quiet down. I just think they were a little taken aback by 12 Black men together like we were.
    4 · 4 hours ago
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    Aaron C. Coleman
    Interesting. My partner, who hails from Spain, thinks racism may be a secondary or tertiary reason, and more than likely, contempt for Americans' revelry, or "visibility" might be the reason for the harassment.
    3 hours ago
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    J Bernard Jones
    David addressed this form another person above: "Naw... We have witnessed many LOUD white Europeans and Americans while here. And they are catered to, not told to 'quiet down. I just think they were a little taken aback by 12 Black men together like we were."
    3 hours ago
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    J Bernard Jones
    Here's the thing: David was there. The other 11 Black men were there. There were white patrons (some Spanish, some European form other countries, some American — not spelled out) where were not treated similarly, as they would have been if it was purely anti-American bias or sentiment. What your Spanish partner (and therefore you) are doing is engaging in typical erasure and gaslighting that Black folks here experience from white folks in the United States all the time: "well, it might have been something else" or "it might have been in your head," when these 12 grown Black adults know exactly what happened to them. And it's not like Spain doesn't have issues with anti-Black racism; just look at the various reports that come out of Spain regarding the treatment of Black European and African soccer players, sometimes which devolve into rioting. But if your friend says these twelve Black men only perceived something that he himself wasn't their to witness or participate in, then who are we to say your partner is wrong and David is.
    2 hours ago · Edited
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    J Bernard Jones
    I always think I'm more surprised and irritated at the Black people who read these constant accounts or even go through these experiences who are "surprised" than the actual treatment itself. I used to say something all the time: at some point in the life of nearly every black American there will come a time when you are called or confronted with the equivalent of being called a "nigger." It might have never have happened or it have happened before, but there will that ONE time when it will strike like a knife to the throat. And it will be that time that you will decide how to address it: to respond, to ignore or to pretend it didn't happen or matter and invalidate. Many of my friends never quite "got" what I was talking about....until it happened to them, whether at a young age or well into their middle years. The situation David describes is almost the same situation tha happened in ATL at the Prickly Pear in ATL, where on a Sunday day party a promoter was forced to leave because just ONE white resident of the building complained to the management about the "loud noise" on an afternoon and management told the promoter he had to go, according to various sources. In the US or abroad, it's variations on the same theme. We're getting to a tipping point, and not just in the US: all these these things we are seeing are part of a continuum & along a spectrum of anti-blackness, and not isolated incidents where we gaslight ourselves into wondering if what happened to us actually happened to us.
    3 hours ago · Edited
     
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  2. alton

    Squad Leader The Great Debater The 1000 Daps Club

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    Eh...did they really think sh!t was gonna be different just because they traveled to the other side of the world? lol I hate to sound cynical but...:yeshrug:
     
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  3. ControlledXaos

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    Fun Fact: I used to have a legitimate crush on David Malebranch.
     
  4. Rico

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    This. It's okay to travel, just keep in mind that white supremacy is a global phenomenon. I think some of us have bought too much into the famed traveling Black Expats / pied noir narrative (James Baldwin, Richard Wright, etc.).

    The State Department's Country Condition reports (which I use in my line of work) should be downloaded and read before traveling and spending your money anywhere OUTCONUS; e.g. what is a country's gay attitudes? How do they feel about immigrants (that'll give you a rough idea about Black treatment). Just read the reports with a "black eye".
     
  5. ControlledXaos

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    Well I just don't expect American comfort outside of America, what little comfort we do have as black men that is. So I am not hardly surprised that this occurred. And honestly, I can't help but think some of the welcoming at the gay spot was due to them being black and other gays trying to find out if "what they say is true."
     
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  6. OckyDub

    OckyDub is a Verified MemberOckyDub Fair Use Nigga....Fair Use
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  7. ColumbusGuy

    ColumbusGuy Deactivated Account

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    Why does this matter? If they were a server, a bartender, a retail clerk, a janitor, a CNA, etc. who had managed to save money for a once in a lifetime trip to Barcelona, would it have made any difference? Should it?

    Whenever I see this kind of thing I suspect classism-you know, that nasty thing that is the first cousin of racism?
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    I do agree with them they almost certainly were singled out because they were black.


    Could it have been homophobia as well though? Take that with alcohol and if you are black and seen as noticeably gay would that make it even more likely to be 'targeted'?.....just asking.

    That does not sound like black men out having a good time...that sounds like black gay men having a good time. Does it make a difference here...there...? Again just asking if it is a possibility. Or maybe the 'writer' is the author of this and is just having some artistic license with descriptions?

    Not trying to stir anything up, I just think I can honestly ask these questions on this forum and I really don't know if perceived sexual orientation might be a part of this or make it worse or different.

    They would never have experienced this is they were just white guys out having a good time, even if they were a bit loud or disruptive(unlike these guys)
    *I also think that if they were flamboyantly gay whites they would have been less likely to have been questioned than any black men, gay or straight. Everyone knows that wealthy gay whites have powerful groups to lean on.


    And yeah, I did the
    reallynow
    too...some really nice looking men there.
     
  8. OckyDub

    OckyDub is a Verified MemberOckyDub Fair Use Nigga....Fair Use
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    I hear you ( and it annoys me ) but yes it does matter in some cases when a story needs to be told.

    Many times Black folks (and gay folks) have to quantify who we are or our status in order to be heard and not judged as a random black "bad dude" who may have taking some PCP in high school.

    The classism comes from...who are these commoners and why are thy here? So therefore the Black dudes got to show their nuts and say not only am I economically on lock, my education can bring you to your knees while I shame you and your organization via social media.
     
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  9. ColumbusGuy

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    Ok I get it. They are doing it because they have to-if they don't then they are seen as the automatic default-which is not educated or successful at all. That makes sense then(sadly).
     
  10. Rico

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    Yep, in other words:
    [​IMG]
     
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