Before I get into what it’s like being a black person traveling in Serbia, I should let you know that this post is actually part of a series on my blog called Being a Black Traveler in Eastern Europe and Slavic Europe by Country.
That is why this summary of my experience as a black traveler in Serbia is not so long. So check out the whole Eastern Europe post when you are done.
Disclaimer 1: I am a tall, thin, American girl who wears a lot of make-up and cute dresses. I am sure that being an “exotic” girl in the Slavic world contributes to my mostly positive experience, and a lot of my black female friends have had similar experiences. Although, being an “exotic” girl can often be exhausting and uncomfortable around immature people with little diverse life experiences, but for the most part, it is positive. So as you read my experiences, keep in mind that my gender and my nationality, I am sure, can sometimes play a part in how I am treated.
Disclaimer 2: Let me also say immediately, I have seen no racism in Eastern Europe towards myself or other black people I am friends with or simply know of–whether they’re light skinned, dark skinned, African expats or tourists, or black expats or tourists from Western countries.
Racism particularly is a learned behavior passed down from generations of families in western countries where there are generations of black citizens to practice racism, discrimination and segregation on. Eastern Europeans haven’t had centuries to develop these institutionalized and social habits. So while of course, yes, you may hear the odd story or two of one bad apple being racially inappropriate…. Compared to the thousands and thousands of horrendous incidences, crimes, police brutalities, corruption and horror stories coming from USA and Britain–Eastern Europe is as harmless as a fly. Please remember that.
Okay, so what is it like being a black girl traveling in Serbia?
Serbia, the country where I live. Yay. Obviously, I love Serbia. I think Serbians have a reverence and appreciation for black people and black history unlike any other country I have ever been to. So many Serbians love hip hop culture, r n’ b and The Wire… because, that is what being a black person is all about in a nutshell to foreigners. Haha. But it’s really cute how eager many Serbs are to talk about anything “blackish” with you.
Throughout my life, I have been made fun of for not being “black enough.” In Serbia, I always feel reminded that I am supposedly not “black enough” because these people really love their 90s black culture-isms, and a lot of them honestly know more than I do. I am not a fan of rap personally, but I have met so many Serbians who know so much about history of rap music and its origins and they care so much about black history.
In Serbia, many people, men and women, kindly approach me to ask me why I am in Serbia, so you can expect that a lot.
And as usual, I receive a lot of stares in every town I travel to. In the capital Belgrade, staring can sometimes feel less present compared to the smaller towns because it is a pretty urban city, and you will occasionally see black people that are students or travelers. But I would still say I get stared at quite a lot in Belgrade.
Click here to go back to my series on being a black traveler in Eastern Europe and slavic countries.
Are you a black woman interested in living in an Eastern European country, or any foreign country really, but worried about logistics such as getting your hair done, finding your favorite make-up products, culturally awkward dating, etc.? Check out my Black Girl Traveler Survival Guide
if you are interested to know how I work around living in a country that doesn’t have all the comforts of home for black women.