Going Rogue: Black Women Expats Build Their Lives Abroad  

“Time and time again, the United States has shown people of color and Black Americans in particular that we are not welcome.”   

Janelle (Jash) Cooper, a travel content creator at Joyriding with Jash said in an article posted on sweetjuly.com.   

“In a country that we built, we have to work twice as hard to get half as far and it is exhausting mentally, physically, and emotionally.”  

Black women, it’s time to pack your bags and get a taste of what the expat life could lead for you wherever the wind may blow.  

But before you pack your bags just yet, read on to see why so many of your sisters (and brothers) are leaving the country. Some began leaving in the summer of 2020 after the murder of George Floyd, sweetjuly.com noted, however, living the expat life has been a longtime thing for Black people (women especially) dating back decades ago.   

From James Baldwin to Josephine Baker — they left America to obtain their dreams through their artistic endeavors.  

“I ran far away [from America] to a place called France…in that country, I never feared. It was like a fairyland,” Baker said of leaving for Paris.  

Maya Angelou also spent around two years in Ghana as a journalist and university administrator.   

According to insider.com, fewer than 300 people have traveled to every country in the world – Black woman Jessica Nabongo is one of them.  

As the author of the book, “The Catch Me If You Can,” she details how for decades, the international travel arena has been primarily white. In a growing movement, Black women are packing their bags and moving abroad to various countries to find their healing after enduring racism in the United States (more than any country) for so long.  

At four years old she made a promise to herself of touring the world before turning 35, according to the article.   

“I don’t fear strangers, I traveled to 89 countries solo as a Black woman, and I had an amazing time,” Nabongo, who has visited Somalia, South Sudan, Afghanistan, and beyond said in the article. “My journey was made beautiful by the kindness of strangers.”  

“I think for me, it was just an amazing opportunity to be able to go there, have those experiences, and then share those experiences with people because it wasn’t what everybody assumed it would be.”   

According to Dr. Aminata Cisse, psychiatrist and founder of Am Taar wellness, burning out from an environment is common, whether because of internal or external stressors.  

Detroit native Lauren Hood, visionary and urban planning strategist extraordinaire who leads impactful community efforts as the founder/director for a non-profit organization, Institute for AfroUrbanism, told the Michigan Chronicle that some Black women are tired of the stress.   


Detroit native Lauren Hood is a solo traveler around the world.    


“It’s (all about) how Black people are treated in the United States,” she said adding that many sojourners are “looking for something else.”  

“(They) heard rumors of something else,” Hood said.  

As an AfroUrbanist, Hood creates opportunities for Black folk to positively hold space for their own narratives in Detroit and abroad.  

During a trip to Paris last year, Hood and a handful of other Black Detroiters went beyond sightseeing – but planting seeds of purpose and intentionality.     

Through the Institute for AfroUrbanism’s “Black Thriving Global Expedition: Paris,” Hood led the trip for Black creatives, photographers, and community stewards who invest in Detroit in more ways than one. The group went to posthumously honor the late legendary entertainer Josephine Baker, who received France’s highest burial honor on November 30 and was officially reinterred at the Panthéon in Paris, Black Information Network reported.     

Hood, who was scheduled to visit Venice, Italy in early October, said that her travels are guided by other Black women.  

“My traveling as a Black woman right now is guided by what other Black women are doing,” she said adding that the 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, is a biennial art festival and countries send one representative to share art stories there – the United States chose a woman this year for the first time, Hood said.  

“I needed to check that out,” she said of celebrating Black women globally, and keeping travels light and with purpose. “I feel like (compassion-based) experiences … are why we travel the world. Also, I’m just culturally curious. I understand the states. … Let me see what other cultures have to offer.”  



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