Do Black People Travel?
According to a recent US census it is estimated that African-Americans make up 13.2 percent of the US population. This makes African-Americans the largest racial minority in The United States. The US Department of State suggests that somewhere between 3-6 million Americans either live permanently or temporarily in foreign countries(.00932%). That’s less than 1%!
As of Dec 2, 2015 the US population is estimated to be 322,267,564 people.
With some simple math we can calculate the estimated population of people who identify as African-American:
(.132 x 322,267,564= 42,539,318 are African-American)
We can determine that if the African-American population is indeed between 13.2% of the total US population (322,267,564) then approximately 42,539,318 of the total US population is African-American. These numbers are based off of estimations so please consider this.
(I referred to wikipedia: US Demography for this information)
So to make everything a bit more simple lets just say there are 42-million African-Americans in the United States. Now, of these 42-million African-Americans, how many live abroad permanently or temporarily?
Before it could even be possible to appropriate a proper number, I think it’s important to point out that it is not uncommon for black people to be of various ethnic backgrounds that would otherwise provide a reason for traveling abroad.
My mother and father are Jamaican immigrants who have since naturalized as American, but still are very much Jamaican nonetheless. At a very young age, I would go on yearly trips to Jamaica to visit my family in Kingston and Hellshire beach.
In these circumstances it’s perfectly understandable how some(not all) black Americans are able to have said they’ve traveled abroad before.
Looking deeper into the answering the question of why the black American is a novelty abroad, we have to look at the current economical situation of the African American in 2016. The reason being it cost money to travel.
After a quick stop at Kff.org: Poverty by race & ethnicity, the statistics presented are as followed:
Source: kaiser family foundation(http://kff.org/other/state-indicator/poverty-rate-by-raceethnicity/)
Poverty Rate by ethnicity(2013)
[Estimated US Population: 322,000,000 (rounded off)]
Race(population): (poverty rate%)(actual number in poverty)
White (201,572,000) :10% in poverty (20,157,200)
Black(42,000,000): 27% in poverty (11,340,000)
Latino/ Hispanic (55,062,000): 24% in poverty (13,214,880)
What does it mean?
Based off these stats, we can see that whites have the largest number as a whole over the poverty-line. ‘Whites’ make up over 60% of the US population and out of 200 million, 10% are considered to be below the poverty-line. This data suggest that about 20 million whites are below the poverty-line.
Latinos/ Hispanics make up 17.1% (55 million) of the US population. So this means 24%(13 million) of Latinos/Hispanics in the US are considered to be living below the poverty-line, according to the US government.
‘Blacks’, making up 13.2% of the total US population at 42 million, have a poverty-rate of 27% (11 million). 11 million blacks are considered to be living below the poverty-line, according to the US government.
So out of the total black population, 26% are considered to be living below the poverty-line. According to these statistics that’s nearly 1/3rd of the African-American population in the US.
If these statistics are as accurate as shown then this must play a major role in why the black American is a novelty abroad. This could suggest many blacks simply can’t consider the luxury of traveling abroad unless they already have a settled family in that country. (Does racism play a role in lack of black abroad? Read Racism In Thailand)
Is this is why the Thai locals are surprised when I tell them I’m from The United States?
Even in 2016, with all the information, technology and pop culture available on the internet. I still have to explain to some of my students that I’m from the USA and there are a lot more people like me back home.
The Other Problem
It’s been a long, well known fact that blacks have a high incarceration rate in the US.
Source: www.Prisonpolicy.org: Incarceration by ethnicity
According to these 2010 stats, blacks average 2,107 incarcerated per 100,000. These stats were calculated by the Prison Policy Initiative from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
You don’t really need to click on the image to see that blacks are by far the the highest incarcerated race.
Can we apply these statistics to justify a possible reason why black Americans don’t travel abroad?
I personally think the term ‘poor’ is largely misrepresented. Referring to the IRP(Institute of Research on Poverty. You’re considered below the poverty line if you are a house of 4(ex. mother, father and two children) making under $23,000 a year. Which many can argue that the poverty-line is well below what it actually should be. Families making more than this may still consider themselves poor as a result of their expectations rather than where the government decides to draw the line.
Given these numbers it comes as no surprise really to why it’s so uncommon to see black Americans abroad.
Never mind the chilling stat that over 60% of Americans will never leave the US.
Remember, nearly 1/3rd of the black population is living below the poverty-line. Throw in the the incarceration rates of the black population and it’s only logical to suggest that a majority of the black population is facing economical and institutional hardships. So much so, that it makes the idea of traveling(let alone traveling abroad) a major obstacle.
I feel fortunate to be in the position I’m in and to be able to see the world for what it is. I by no means make or have a lot of money. In fact, I really had to bootstrap my funds to make it to Thailand. I came with very little money(something a lot of people wouldn’t dare do), but I didn’t let that stop me. My resolve to put my life ‘on hold’ in the US was too strong. Looking back on it now, I’ve learned so many valuable skills, that I would never even bother to learn back home. I’ve gone on so many adventures and met so many different people that it has had a real effect on how I view myself and my surroundings. I’ve learn to converse in a language that is so foreign to my culture that I’d be lucky to find someone back home to speak it with.
Sometimes taking yourself out of your element/environment can do a lot for you. The conditions that Thailand presented me has allowed me to further myself as a person. I’m not saying Thailand saved my life or anything. I’m just saying that living in a foreign country where the language & culture is different teaches you something that no book or classroom ever could.
Thank you for reading, please share and comment!