In about 6 weeks, I will be traveling to Bali! It’s a girl’s trip, with 9 of us going and we are all so excited! This will be the first real vacation that I will have for the year and I am looking forward to getting away and experiencing some much-needed R&R. Last year I had the pleasure of traveling to Southeast Asia to visit Thailand. Thailand is a beautiful country, and I enjoyed my trip immensely. However, I recently read an article that made me grateful that I traveled to Thailand last year instead of this year.
Recently Thai authorities have begun enforcing an operation called “X-Ray Outlaw Foreigners”. Since it’s an inception, 1000 suspected visa violators have been arrested. It was an operation that started last year , but recently Thai police have started ramping up searches and have shifted their focus to brown and black immigrants. Immigration Bureau Chief Surachate Hakparn stated, “Our job is to classify who are the good dark-skinned people and who are the ones likely to commit crimes. The suspicious targets are the dark-skinned people. First, we search their bodies, then we search their passports.”
This blatant form of discrimination should be startling for anyone who is planning to travel to Thailand. Many countries do not have the same justice system that we do so it would be very different to find yourself on the wrong side of the law. Also many immigrants seeking asylum in other countries use Thailand as a passing point. Our world is currently dealing with a refugee crisis due to numerous countries at war, genocide, or famine. It’s a shame that in a time when we should be offering a helping hand that many countries are choosing to turn their backs on those who need it most.
We have also seen a rise in worldwide travel, especially black travel. There are multiple Instagram accounts with thousands to millions of followers with black travelers documenting their trips. Unfortunately, racial discrimination is a global problem, so these issues follow us wherever we go. I know from personal experience when I went to Thailand, tourists from another Asian country pulled me into a picture because they had never seen a black person before. Others thought it was funny, but I don’t appreciate being treated like an animal at a zoo. I think that many countries are grappling with the rise in black travelers. Combine this rise with discrimination and you could potentially have a dangerous combination. However I hope that as we continue to travel different cultures will begin to see that black people are not what we have been portrayed to be in the media.
To me travel is one of the best investments that you can make. The opportunity to see the world around you firsthand is nothing short of life-changing. As of now, I have been to 8 countries, and am hoping to add at least two more within the next 4 months. Below are some tips that I would give to anyone traveling overseas:
- Make copies of your passport and once you have passed through customs keep your passport locked and away from your person. Walk around with at least one copy of your passport.
- Give a family member or friend copies of your passport and your itinerary for your trip so that way if they don’t hear from you they have all the information handy to give to authorities.
- Know the information for the American embassy or consulate in whatever country you are traveling to.
- Be aware of the laws and customs of the country you will be visiting. Lots of travelers assume that since they are on vacation the rules don’t apply, but they do.