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The Top 5 Black Friendly European Cities You Should Travel To

These 5 cities in Europe are the top cities for black people wanting to travel. If not in the US, these are cities where we matter.

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Nice, France


While I'm not here to write a think-piece on a few recent events affecting the black community in America, I'm fully aware of the frustration, disgust, and utter numbness that's getting harder to suppress by my fellow African-Americans when these events make international news.

But it's extremely important for us to not only bind together in peace, but to also do what's necessary to decompress and take a break from the madness if we find it to be consuming the better part of us.

We could argue back and forth about this or we could take a break from the exhaustion of tip-toeing around people's fears for our skin color in a country we helped build, and just go somewhere where we're tolerated instead.

Last year, even our beloved Bahamas, of which 90% of the population is black, issued a travel warning for those wanting to visit the U.S. soon. Not the first time either. A sign of the times.

Although travel is an absolute privilege for so many, I want to encourage my fellow black Americans who've had their passport in hand just waiting for the opportune moment to take off temporarily, that the time is now.

While I'd love to include other continents in the mix, Europe is the one I've spent the last three years exploring the most. So it's currently the only continent I can confidently offer suggestions for cities that not only welcome black skin color, but celebrate it as well.

So without further adieu, here are my top five European city recommendations for travel when enough is enough:

1. Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh, Scotland

Not only will they feel comfortable opening up to you about their life stories within seconds, but they'll invite you for a beer, banter about how much they hate England (haha, sorry Brits), and find a way to make light of any negative situation.

Collectively, they have some of the best senses of humor and while you'll only catch every third word or so due to their accents (God bless it), their charm, welcoming spirits, and laid back personalities are those of the exact type of people you need in your life.

Just don't go in the winter. Because hashtag, brutal.

2. Berlin, Germany

Berlin, Germany

Berlin is jokingly known as the “poor but sexy" cousin to Munich, but is always a millennial favorite for digital nomads, gap year students, and others just in between jobs and taking time off to travel.

Germany is a pretty liberal country in general, and whether it's the crazy house parties, the endless selection of cuisines, nudist parks, or the hipster vibe dripping throughout the streets, it's a city that has something for everybody.

It's got an amazing international community, so you'll be bumping elbows with people from all walks of life on a nightly basis.

It's also goes without saying that due to the dark Nazi history of Germany, they really have no room to repeat or harbor negativity towards other cultures, and it seems like they make a deliberate effort not to do so.

3. Nice, France

Nice, France

Nice, which sits cozily along the French Riviera, is one of the most colorful, vivacious, and diverse cities in France.

You're in a melting pot of cultures from around the world, which again means incredibly varied cuisines, and not to mention one of the most beautiful and unique architectural layouts in Europe, because of its mixed Italian and French influence in the past.

Nice is a city I'm always happy to go back to, and if you're traveling for a longer period of time and you're short on black hair care products, you'll have no problem finding everything you need to re-stock up on here.

4. Krakow, Poland

Krakow, Poland

I don't know what took me so long to discover Poland, but I finally did (thanks, Busabout!) and loved every single minute.

Not only do the Polish people stop and smile at you as you pass them on the street, but you can can feel their warmth and genuine appreciation for you being there by their expressions.

Though the basic words of the Polish language are a challenge to master, they'll smile at your attempts and will meet you more than halfway with their very high levels of English.

I mentioned it to a couple Aussies how cute it was when elderly people would see me, do a double-take, and look so amazed. And almost on cue, a lady passed by and did exactly what I described, and my Aussie friend couldn't stop laughing about it.

A Polish friend told me the other day that she'd only met two black people in her life growing up, but assured me that I wouldn't ever have a problem with not feeling welcomed, and she was right.

Everywhere I went, every restaurant I walked into alone, all eyes were on me.

But not in a terrifying way, but more so a "Wow, how cool to have a black person in our presence!" kind of way. And it's both awesome and hilarious, and I think every black person needs to experience this and be spoiled forever, lol.

While on a bike tour, our Polish guide ended his spiel with a very resounding speech about how much the Jewish community influenced the current state of Krakow, and how he's so excited about the potential of the city and welcomes all other cultures to continue coming and contributing to what makes Krakow so great. I was greatly moved by his words.

5. Budva, Montenegro

Budva, Montenegro

Budva is a city that's on the extreme end of how much black skin can be appreciated abroad -- but not as extreme as Italy, which you could read exactly what I'm talking about here, LOL.

But in Budva, you're not only welcomed, you're practically celebrated, as you're viewed as a celebrity as one restaurant owner confessed they get roughly two black tourists a year, and I'm sure that's an overstatement, ha.

Czesky Krumlov, Czech Republic

As you're casually mistaken for a famous black celebrity or actress constantly, restaurant owners will invite you to try their main dishes, bar owners will spoil you with drinks on the house, and private beach clubs will let you lounge on their property for as long you'd like.

Budva, Montenegro

The red carpet is truly laid out and whether I was accepting rides on luxury yachts or signing Serena Williams' autograph by the beach (true story, he was a kid and I couldn't say no while his parents were watching), then your days are made quite nicely.

In Montenegro, they treat you like royalty, and got damn it, you are. You're magical, divine, and every bit worthy of being appreciated and not judged prematurely as a threat.

[Tweet "Black people, you are... worthy, divine, appreciated, and more."]

While these experiences will come with its fair share of people asking for selfies, understand that it'll still be far more enjoyable, because they're people who feel honored by your existence, not threatened by it.

And that makes the world of a difference.

Hey 15 minutes of fame, I see you! #MilkinIt

While I have two younger, but grown brothers back home, and a future family to raise one day, the idea of permanently living abroad is sounding more and more likely.

So I'll continue scouting as many black-friendly cities around the world as possible, and to the black community back in America, stay strong, stay safe, and stay ready to move, because sometimes, enough is enough.

Black friends, see you on the other side -- where we matter, and stuff ;)

What has your travel experience been like? Have other cultures readily embraced you? Share your stories in the comment section below!

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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