A brave woman confronted to ignorance

Joanne, a black woman globetrotter dealing with ignorance.

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Joanne and her travelling instinct

She is 30 years old. She was born in Paris and stayed there for 11 years. Then she moved to Montreal and lived there for a while. She did her Master in Geneva, Master in Development and Asian Studies. Thanks to her studies, she was able to do a six-month exchange in Tokyo between 2014 and 2015. Prior to that, she took advantage of working holiday visas to visit Australia and New Zealand. The desire to travel has not left her since today she finds herself in Berlin. But ignorance is never far away.

France and Canada, two countries where Joanne does not feel at home

After her studies in Tokyo, she had no desire to return to these two countries. She does not feel well in these two countries where she grew up. For what reasons? In Montreal, it’s the cold, the long distances, which she doesn’t like, she feels stuck. Paris is a completely different matter. Rather, there is a lack of job opportunities, often based on prestige. Moreover, it is more complicated to make a career there when you are a black woman. We constantly face racism, ignorance, misogyny and so on.

What she can not also tolerate is the condescending attitude of high-ranking people. The fact that they make you feel inferior to them. For example, she applied spontaneously in some stores, which hardly looked at the application. Or when she sees a job announce, she applies and is told a few minutes later that the position is no longer available. Yet this does not call into question the fact that she is proud to be French, proud of culture, history, gastronomy.

Many people have this same feeling, feeling foreign in their own home country because somehow they are reminded that they are not really from here. In daily life outside the world of work, she did not feel racism. Indeed she pays attention to her acquaintances. And do not hesitate to use the strong way to educate them.

Faced with ignorance, Joanne does not fail to react

She is afraid to meet someone who is interested in her just for her colour, just because she embodies exoticism. She will pay close attention to the person’s behaviour, how she reacts, what she thinks. And it’s not about colour. Whether black or white, they find that men sexually fetishize black women. She’s dealt with complicated situations before. She’d been seeing someone for a while. She made it clear to the person that she found this intolerable.

Another day she was on vacation in Milan.  No one came to serve her when she arrived first. The waiter came in pretending to ask what’s going on. She just left. In Berlin, she was shopping in a supermarket. At the cash register, she greets the cashier, who does not answer. She answered continuously until the person answered. She repeated it four times. One last example, and this one in New Zealand. She was talking to someone who asked her where she really came from.

All these situations prove that ignorance is widespread throughout the world.

From self-love to the will to get involved in the change

She has only accepted herself as a black woman for a few years. She has always lived in an environment with a predominantly white or Asian population. It’s complicated to assert yourself as a black woman when you’re constantly belittled according to her. What has helped her are blogs, (The Softest Ghetto for example) on women of colour, to love each other better, which shows diversity in tones, shapes, hair. Then there’s Rihanna, with her I don’t care attitude, who gets involved in causes, for her she plays the successful coloured woman. However, she is well aware that the success model of the coloured woman is light skin. It is a kind of competition that colourism installs between black and mixed race women and which unfortunately has in fact and in fact suffered many of us. She sees in particular when she returns to Martinique to see her family, this social hierarchy which is characterized by your skin colour. For her, self-love is necessary to fight this. Our value should never be determined by anyone,” she says.

A little note of hope

She remains confident for the future and sees that more and more people are getting involved to change things. She holds out hope to the next generation, the Millenials, that they will take themselves in hand, by creating citizen movements on a daily basis in the face of injustices. According to her, it is up to us to be the driving force for change by taking initiatives.

Bonus : You will find a video talking about being a black woman and travelling

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