I love the respond I get from you guys as readers especially when I write about places I felt comfortable traveling as a black American woman (that’s why I did a second list!). From students planning their study abroad, families planning their first overseas vacations, it’s been great hearing your feedback and experiences. I’ve heard from a few mixed race families looking to have comfortable family vacation perhaps without being oogled at, someone touching their kid’s hair or thinking that the mom is a nanny or au pair.
In our video on Traveling As An Interracial couple in honor of Loving Day, Michele and I mainly discuss our experiences and social commentary as a whole, mentioning very few places so I wanted to make a list and share with you from BOTH of our experiences.
Monaco and the French Riviera. Michele and I just watched Netflix’s new movie, Murder Mystery that takes place in a lot of our stomping grounds, from Brooklyn to Northern Italy. Michele didn’t notice but I notice in the scenes through Monaco, markets to Grand Prix, a lot of the extras were interracial couples of black women and white men. This is something I noticed in my travels in the area as well with wealth, superseding, race and even background as means to enter.
Paris, France. Along the same lines, Paris is a city where I saw an abundance of interracial couples as well as mixed race people reflecting the country’s history from the West Indies to Asia and Africa. It’s where black artists and intellectuals sought freedom post-War: James Baldwin, Richard Wright, Josephine Baker, to name a few. It’s oddly enough where I ended up for a brief stint after the last presidential election. Not even an oogle, being an interracial couple in Paris seems to cause no pause. France is not exempt from intense race issues though and being a black American there is a strange space.
Maybe I’m on a Francophile kick because the isle of Martinique, a French department is a great island for interracial families to travel to as it embodies the histories past and present, seen in the people and culture. As I mentioned in a my Vogue.com article on Martinique, the island is “decidedly French, very Caribbean, with a strong tie to its African roots.” – Nneya Richards ;). This intersectionality of cultures is why Martinique makes the list.
Allow me one more Francophile moment, Geneva, Switzerland. I was reminded of describing Geneva as a “rainbow coalition” to one of my best friends in New York in 2009, recently during a conversation with a friend in Milan last week (in 2019). When I first visited the city (and Lausanne!) I was taken aback by the amount of interracial couples and mixed raced children I saw. Here was Switzerland, often depicted as this very pristine, very white and very wealthy place and I was seeing people of all colors enjoying that idyllic Swiss life. During an aperitivo with a black American friend in Milan recently she too mentioned Geneva being a place where she too noticed an abundance of interracial couples. About one in four residents of Switzerland is an immigrant so that certainly sheds some light. Also, remember, Tina Turner has been living her best life there for the last few decades.
The culture of Singapore is a true melting pot with four official languages, English, Mandarin, Tamil and Malay. With the concept of foodgasm being a centuries old thing, seen by the old malay word shiok, it seems like these cultures live in harmony through food! The Eastern cultures as well as the Eurasian Dutch side is reflected in the food, architecture and looks of the population. Peranakans are an ethnic group descended from Chinese settlers from the southern provinces who came to the Malay archipelago mixing with the Brits and the Dutch between the 15th and 17th centuries. Peranakan food is one of my favorite in the world, almost only found in Singapore. With Singapore being one of the wealthiest countries in the world and a place with a lot of wealthy expats, I found Asian-white interracial couples were relatively common in most of the establishments I went to.
As I mentioned in my previous post regarding Brazil, there is a strong black population there was an strong influence on arts, science and culture, the the Brazilian culture exported around the world despite what the bigot in power there may lead you to believe. Hey, I’m American, and yes, Donald Trump is the president of the US, so…. Brazil is considered a “color-blind” society with a full one-third and growing of the marriages there being interracial. Good right? Well yes and know, because there is darkness behind this colorblindness. Is it an attempt to create a true mixed race society or an attempt to erase blackness from the country’s origins. The process was called blanqueamiento (a social process of “improving” the race through interracial marriages) and the most well known commentary on this is the 1895 painting, The Redemption of Ham by Modesto Brocos. Brazil even used this photo as an example of their eugenics theory in a conference in Europe! I could go on for days about this painting and really want to go to Brazil to explore the social ramifications of this process and mentality as shown in this painting, but that’s a whole other story. Here’s a great YouTube on this which discusses this.
Due to colonization, the UK has a long history of non-white identifying people identifying as English. In the country’s larger cities like London, you most clearly see a blending of cultures — I’d dare say even more than NYC. Something that Michele noticed about interracial black-white couples there was curious: on council states / in lower socioeconomic classes, the mixed race couples tended to be more black men with white women, and in the upper classes, it was the other way around, white men with black or mixed race women? Curious, huh? The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are almost poster children of interracial marriage for the country and despite Brexit and what is seemingly a wave of alt-right views (Prince Harry had to release an official statement expressing his dismay at the racist tones of the criticism for his then-girlfriend, Megan Markle) the couple is ushering in a new wave of the monarchy and in turn, what the country looks like.
Sure, NYC is a melting pot but it is still very ethnically and racially divided, especially when considering socioeconomic status. What makes it a unique melting-pot is that despite neighborhood divides, 100s of cultures have to intersect and cross paths daily. Brooklyn and it’s diversity could be a city of it’s own and with a younger generation leading the way (the Mayor lived in Brooklyn with his mixed-race family) you’re more likely to see all types of interracial couples (racially and sexual orientation wise) in Brooklyn. Spend a first Saturday in Brooklyn Museum and tell me what you think.
Speaking of melting pots, Miami is one of the most international cities in the US. Long been known as a gateway to Latin American, you also can hear French, Russian, Italian, Patois, Creole, etc being spoken in public spaces there. All of these elements come together in a flavor that is unique to the city and you can see it in the romantic pairings.
I must admit, I didn’t see many interracial couples in South Africa. The few I saw were in Johannesburg, and whether romantic or friendships, they were a beacon of hope in the new South Africa they speak of. If you’re in an interracial couple or family, South Africa is a great trip (as is reading Trevor Noah’s Born A Crime); I’m a staunch believer in confronting our past to make a new and brighter future and with apartheid in our lifetimes, South Africa forces you to do that, count your blessings and see hope for the future.