Port of Entry / November 11, 2020
A growing number of Black expats are now calling Mexico home. In a new episode, we talk to people who’ve left the U.S. to find some refuge from racism south of the border. From KPBS and PRX, “Port of Entry” tells cross-border stories that connect us.
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Back when Trump was first running for President, David Jones made himself a promise.
Black Expat David Jones Clip 21
….. man, if Trump tryin’ to get elected. I'm getting up out of the country. Everybody was talking about that stuff. Yeah, man, we gotta go. We gotta go. ….
Like a lot of us, though...he thought it was never actually gonna happen.
But then...it did.
Black Expat David Jones Clip 25
Yeah. I was just kind of dumbfounded. Like you gotta be kidding me. How on earth?
Black Expat David Jones Clip 26
Never did I imagine that it was going to go this far.
Unlike a lot of people who said the same exact thing about Trump...David kept his promise.
As a black man, David just couldn’t imagine himself staying in a country run by someone he considers racist.
So, by March of 2017, just a few months after Trump was sworn into office…David...was gone.
Black Expat David Jones Clip 21
….I put some things into place, um, I moved out of my apartment, threw everything in storage…..And so, uh, things worked out to where. Um, 2017, my son graduated college, so I got him out of my pocket. And then I said, okay, here we go.
From KPBS and PRX, this is Port of Entry.
Today….a story about Black expats...People who’ve left the U.S. and found some refuge from racism on the other side of the border.
Stay with me. MIDROLL 1
Black Expat David Jones Audio Diary Clip 1
Good morning this is Chef David. It’s Friday, August 7th. I am currently on a tour bus, headed to the city of Tequila where we’re going to be doing samples all day long.
David Jones lives in Mexico...just south of the U.S.-Mexico border in a somewhat sleepy beach town called Rosarito.
It’s cheap. Like, super cheap, especially by American standards.
So David uses the money he saves on living expenses for vacations…. like this one he recently took to Guadalajara...where COVID restrictions aren’t very restrictive yet.
We asked him to record himself on his phone. Here are some highlights from one day...
Black Expat David Jones Audio Diary Clip 8
The scenery here is absolutely majestic. There are towering mountains. There's that tequila bar Piano. And as far as your eye can see agavi plants…. We're pulling over. Everybody's happy.
Black Expat David Jones Audio Diary Clip 9
Taking a shot at tequila on their way out off of the bus. Yeah. I just had my shot at tequila I think my goatee and my beard has more of it than in my mouth, but it's okay, man.
Black Expat David Jones Audio Diary Clip 13
I have been to over 40 different countries, but I've never seen a group of strangers come together like this and my travels in my life. They're sitting here calling me uncle David
Black Expat David Jones Audio Diary Clip 11
I can't explain the feeling I have right now. It's overwhelming, exciting, I'm living my dreams. I'm living my best life.
When David’s not off vacationing in Guadalajara and other parts of the world, he’s back in Rosarito, where he lives alone in a nice casita with a view of the Pacific Ocean.
Black Expat David Jones Clip 31
Alright. So, um, front door open. And let me see if I can switch the camera around. There we go. This is what it looks like a front door. We got mountain views and the front, estuary and the beach is right over there. Laughs. You really can't beat it.
And the best part of this new expat life?
Black Expat David Jones Clip 20
…….I mean, the rent here is cheap. The electricity is cheap. I could turn my lights on, leave them on all day. We get bill for electricity every two months. My, my last electric bill was like $7 and 15 cents for every two, for two month bill, you know, I mean, I pay $600 a month for this place and I can walk to the beach in five minutes. It's just, it has everything that you could ever want and then some.
David is 51.
He’s a confident guy and super decisive.
And at key times in his life, those two traits have combined to create a kind of blind spontaneity that has led him down different paths.
Like...back when he was in high school, he decided he was gonna join the military. And the very day he graduated, he did it.
Black Expat David Jones Clip 4
I joined the Navy in 1987. Toured the world and retired in 2007, at the age of 38…..
After retiring from the military, David decided to try his hand at a few civilian jobs.
He worked at AT&T for a while, but wanted something different. So he went to the police academy and became a cop, but he couldn’t stand being hated by the very people he was trying to serve.
He wasn’t sure what his next move was gonna be... so he let spontaneity be his guide.
Black Expat David Jones Clip 47
…..on Christmas Eve I was visiting a friend. She said, well, Dave, what are you going to do now? And say, ah, maybe I'd go back to school, get my master's degree in business. And she said, well, David, as much as you cook, I thought maybe you go to culinary school. And I said, you know what? That's not a bad idea. And it was at that exact moment. I got on my phone. I looked up culinary schools in Dallas. I saw the first thing that came up was Lakota on blue. I went to their website, expressed my interest the day after Christmas, they call me that following Monday, I was enrolled. And that was that. Laughs.
When David got out of culinary school, he scored a job at Ritz Carlton Dallas and then House of Blues.
He liked the work, but a stranger planted an idea in his head that would eventually dictate his next move.
Black Expat David Jones Clip 17
I was at a cigar lounge, uh, smoking cigars with friend of mine, and this guy walks in and he comes and he sits down at a table and he starts talking about Baja. I said, okay, I'm listening. And, and. Keep in mind, I've been to places like Thailand and Singapore, Hong Kong Australia. I've met military retirees living in counties outside of America. And I'm like, okay, well that sounds, seems pretty cool,
Black Expat David Jones Clip 18
And next thing we know, we get to talk and he's telling me how extremely cheap it is to live here and all that, these things. And while he's talking, I'm on my cell phone, like, okay, let me check this out. And I'm like, okay, he's giving me context of people to get in contact with.
So Baja was on David’s brain when Donald Trump launched his presidential campaign.
And that’s when David made up his mind that if Trump won, he was out.
Black Expat David Jones Clip 27
I had this conversation with a good friend of mine. I said, this is about to be...america's about to go to hell in a handbasket with gasoline underwear on, because this is crazy. And this is exactly what happened so far.
Black Expat David Jones Clip 22
So then I got everything that could fit in the little two seater of mine, I drove from Dallas to Baja, California….
Black Expat David Jones Clip 5
And ultimately moved to Baja site unseen. And I've been here ever since. Yeah.
The math was a big part of what motivated the move, too.
David’s pension from the Navy, mixed wit h the fact that he’d worked hard to get rid of all his debt, and that Mexico is so much cheaper than the U.S….
It means that David can live in Mexico for the rest of his life without ever needing to work again.
And work-free life? It sounds nice.
Black Expat David Jones Clip 35
You know, my everyday routine is I go walk the beach. Do about six and a half miles on the beach. And then I come back here and probably throw on some Netflix or something like that. light a cigar and sit outside and relax, listen to music.
David’s only got a few complaints so far...
For one, Rosarito gets a little colder than he’s used to.
Black Expat David Jones Clip 52
I assumed it was hot. It was not. And in March that, that night it was down to like 41 degrees. I'm like, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait a minute. Now this is not right.
Black Expat David Jones Clip 53
And this is second thing I didn't research was the dating scene. Rough here. You gotta stand. When it comes to Americans here, I'm probably the youngest retiree here. And everybody I know is basically in their sixties and up and up. Oh, look, there's nothing wrong with that. But she got to bring in something else, a little extra to the table besides some of that other stuff, because you know, I'm not trying to take care of nobody. Laughs.
Well...maybe David would have more luck dating some locals closer to his age, but his Spanish is still minimal at best.
And that’s not uncommon for expats…..black, white or whatever.
Especially at the border… lots of them never even bother to learn Spanish.
And look...the language barrier is just one of the things that might bother locals about the expat community in Mexico.
There are plenty of other things, bad and good, expats bring to the country.
We’re not gonna dig too deeply into all those economic and social impacts, but we can’t talk about expats in Mexico without quickly talking about money….
The influx of American money definitely helps the economy here
But at the same time, it inflates prices to the point that, oftentimes, locals get priced out. And the only people who can afford to live near the beach are American expats like David.
Baja’s beaches are just packed with expats with steady incomes.. And at the same time....lots of locals in the region live in poverty or are struggling just to get by.
It’s a complicated issue.
BEAT FADE OUT
David’s final complaint when it comes to living in Rosarito??? He says it gets a little quieter than he’s used to.
Especially now, with the pandemic, the normal spring break crowds that flood Rosarito beach every year were just a fraction of what they usually are.
Black Expat David Jones Clip 34g
So it makes it a little bit boring….
But….when there isn’t a pandemic, David goes out to dinner or to the local bars a few times a week.
Sometimes, he drives to Tijuana and goes to the famous Caesar's restaurant where the cesar salad was invented.
He loves meeting and talking to strangers….and most strangers like meeting and talking to him, too. He’s a friendly dude with a loud laugh.
And he says being Black in Mexico is still sort of unique...so he stands out.
People tend to approach him and ask him questions more than they might if he was one of the thousands of white expats living in Mexico.
BEAT FADE OUT
David says he’s never moving back to the U.S.
He just doesn’t think it’s a good place for black men right now.
Black Expat David Jones Clip 37
When I look back now and I look at, uh, the bro, I was shot in his home from eating ice cream because the young lady was on the wrong floor. When I look at it, a Fort Worth police officer, they shot this lady from outside of her home. Uh, we're just saying. You got a call from the neighbor across the street saying the lights were on after two o'clock and you shoot this young lady inside of her home. After you will say, put your hand police, you don't even say, please put your hands up and you shoot. There's so many things going on there George Floyd, I mean, it's so much, and I'm trying to figure out, I don't know how it got started, but it has been escalating. Every other week, every other day. And it's, it's bad.
But…things are bad in Mexico, too.
Tijuana was named the most dangerous city in the world for the second year in a row because of its out-of-control murder rate and cartel violence.
David’s aware of the danger, but still...
Black Expat David Jones Clip 54
This is what I tell a lot of people and they always say, is it safe in Mexico? I said, Turn on your television at six o'clock in the morning, finish up at the 10 o'clock news tonight, and then call me tomorrow. And you tell me how safe it is, where you live. People are always worried about danger when they decided to cross the border, but they're so accustomed to the danger in their own neighborhood. They don’t even think about it. It's normal to them. you got more problems there than you'll ever see here.
Racism exists in Mexico, of course it does. We actually talked about the racism Black migrants in Mexico are facing in a past episode. But when you’re Black and American...Mexicans tend to focus on the American part more than the skin color.
David says for the most part, he’s treated like a king because people see him first and foremost as an American with American dollars to spend.
There was this one recent incident, though….
David was coming back through the U.S.-Mexico border from San Diego….and, because of COVID restrictions, which say only “essential” travel is allowed through the border right now, he got hassled by a Mexican border agent.
Black Expat David Jones Clip 1
I had my bags cause I was just coming off travel, I showed them my passport card and they immediately asked me, uh, was I essential person? They're all are aware. And where was I going? I said no, but you know, I live here and she was like, well, our government has basically said to turn away all Americans, if you're not assault essential personnel. And I'm like, wait a minute...
David pulled out a copy of his lease he just happened to have on him.
He showed it to the border agent and explained that he had to get back because it really is the only place he lives now.
The border agent hesitated as she examined the piece of paper…
Black Expat David Jones Clip 2
It was very frightening to know that I'm the place I called home. I couldn't get to. Yeah. But she let me through. So, but I had not been the experience of a lot of people, um, that came there after me. And I think solely on complexion, if you asked me because there was another guy in front of me that got turned away, uh, that was African American as well. But I mean, it was just the fact that I had a lease and I'm like, come on, you guys gotta let me through. So….
So that was scary.
And because of that experience, he hasn’t crossed back to the U.S. since.
Black Expat David Jones Clip 50
I don't want to get stuck over there. Yeah.
Mexico is the most popular destination in the world for American expats.
The U.S. State Department estimates that about 1.5 million Americans live there.
And David is one of a growing number of Black American expats who now call Mexico home.
There’s no easy way to get an official count of the number of Black Americans in Mexico, but anecdotally, David says he’s seeing more and more.
Black Expat David Jones Clip 43
There's an entire Facebook group called black expats in Mexico. You will be surprised how many and how spread out in Mexico we are. It's amazing. And I'm like, Oh man, if I want to go here, I contacted this person as they gave me all the information about it, you know? And so we're here, but yes it's because it is in America's mind unfathomable that. We as African Americans can do the same thing. Yeah. Caucasian student. And that's why they don't think about it. Yes. We can live outside the country. Yes. We have incomes that we don't have. I don't have to worry about the next thing on the neck. Just like you...but it's it's American culture is that they can't fathom the us being able to live in the same manner that they do. It's just the way it is.
David says he’s always trying to convince more of his Black friends to move down to Mexico.
Sure. he’s living the life and he wants them to live that life, too, but his move to Mexico was about so...much...more than saving money, going on tequila tours and chilin at the beach.
For him, moving to Mexico has been like releasing this huge, pressure valve…..The release being the invisible weight and mental load of racism in America.
David just wants more of his friend to feel that relief. But most of his homies just can’t fathom living outside the U.S.
Black Expat David Jones Clip 46
So it's unfortunate that they don't understand that it does not take much to live here, but their fear of living out of the country, the fear of the unknown. I think my fear was broken up by being in the military.
*****Black Expats BLACUGEES Clip 1
My name's Omar and my wife, and I'm Aqueelah, and we’re the Blacugees…
Helping Black people get over their fears of living overseas is the name of Omar and Aqueelah’s game.
Black Expats BLACUGEES Clip 1
We're a family of four. Uh, we actually, uh, left the country, uh, back in 2016, uh, and, uh, started our journey as expats and, uh, in so doing, uh, we've, uh, began to put together resources and a platform where other expats can assist and, uh, in providing information, uh, to, uh, people in America, black people in America on how they can make their Exodus.
More on the “Blacugees” when we come back.
Omar Dames was born with an intense desire to travel.
Black Expats BLACUGEES Clip 9
I was a dreamer, I'm a dreamer. I used to look across the ocean and wonder, you know, what's over there. You know, like I want to go, I want to go over there. And so, um, it's always kind of been part of me since I was a little, little boy and, um, There's a movie Fievel GoesWest, right?
Laughs. That movie was like very impactful. I'm like, wow, this, you know, this, guy's traveling all over. I want to do that someday. I know it sounds silly, but for me it really made an impact. And I wanted to understand, you know, how people lived in different areas, right. Um, maybe, maybe their experience isn't like mine. And that was always something that was lingering in my head. Maybe there's a place where things are different
Fievel Clip 2
And Aqueelah Dames….she also knew from an early age about the allure of the great big world all around her...
Black Expats BLACUGEES Clip 10
As a child, I actually grew up, as I mentioned in upstate New York. So, uh, we lived right on the border of Canada. So I grew up blowing across the border into Canada pretty much early on as a child. So I was familiar with how things were drastically different on the Canadian side of the falls, as opposed to the American and state side. So that's something that I think was, you know, sort of impactful and left an imprint on me.
When Omar and Aqueelah got married and then became parents to two boys, their whole world view shifted...just like it does for a lot of folks.
Black Expats BLACUGEES Clip 2
…..So, you know, early into our marriage, it was something that he always talked about in terms of wanting to possibly live overseas. But it wasn't something that I can conceptualize for a long time because our kids were small. And I just, I had sort of bought into all of the…. Um, you know, mysticism about, you know, other places being scary and weird and violent and all those things, you know?
But as their boys got older...those words...Scary, weird, violent…they started feeling more like descriptions of the U.S.
As more and more deaths of people of color being killed by police started making headlines, Omar and Aqueelah began the kind of lessons no parent should have to give their kids.
Black Expats BLACUGEES Clip 38
They also know not to ever go anywhere alone. Don't do it. Um, you know, go in twos, um, keep your phone charged, um, you know, make sure that, you know, you're. You know, your, your video camera's working. Like, you know, if you buy something, make sure they put it in a bag and have your receipt in your hand.
Black Expats BLACUGEES Clip 30
They've been tempered. Um, they're knowledgeable. they realize, you know, don't put your hoodie on, even though it's the dead of winter and it's negative 20 degrees outside. Do not put that hoodie on your head….
When Omar was a kid, he had his share of scary experiences with racism.
One time while living in Georgia back in the 90s, his cousin was getting picked on, so he stepped in and got in a fist fight with some white kids.
He was not prepared for what happened next.
Black Expats BLACUGEES Clip 6
like a mob of like 50 people with the sheriff with guns, uh, came to my aunt's house and they were talking about putting me in a tree and it was just, it was, uh, it was. Yeah, well, that was bad. And it was, you know, I made a terrible decision. Of course I shouldn't have, you know, put hands on the child shouldn't have done that, but the response was, was, was overwhelming. And it really kind of, you know, in my mind, uh, left an impact. And, you know, again, like I said, as a father, uh, not wanting to have my children experienced anything remotely close to that.
So, to keep something like that from happening, the life lessons for his two boys continued. Omar says it’s basically a constant conversation.
And still...armed with all the knowledge about how to stay safe, there have been times when his kids have feared for their lives.
Black Expats BLACUGEES Clip 29
It's a constant conversation. Um, that started, you know, when they were about 10. Mmm, my, my thank God, my boys, aren't very, you know, large men. They're, they're, you know, they're, they're not imposing, but even still, you know, the, the, um, conversation started when they were about 10. Um, it's, it's constantly going. Um, and you know, my son, when he, um, after he graduated, we had, you know, went back to New York for a little while. And he was working at a, um, agency, a call center. And, um, he was, you know, waiting for the bus to come and he called me in a panic and, um, he was having a panic attack and I, you know, I says, well, what's wrong. Like I said, he says these cops, they, they they're, they're driving by me. They keep driving by me and they're looking at me and they're driving really slow. He says I'm scared, dad, I don't, I don't know what to do. He's crying. And I says, when you're, we'll take a deep breath, put the phone to your ear, keep talking to me. Don't make eye contact, look down, but keep an eye on him, um, as they're moving forward, but don't let them see you looking at them. Um, that's the conversation that I have with my kids.
Black Expats BLACUGEES Clip 30
They've both resigned to say that, you know, they probably don't want to have children when they get older, because they don't think that children should have to live like that. These are the conversations that we have.
The conversations and extra precautions were fine for a while.
But then things really started getting scary for Black boys and men.
Black Expats BLACUGEES Clip 3
In 2015, actually with the Trayvon Martin situation and his death along with Mike Brown. And, and it just was a time that it felt like it was time to explore something different.
Black Expats BLACUGEES Clip 5
I cried. when I saw Trayvon, I saw my son he was just going to the store, you know, and, and, um, It, it really, it really bothered me like it really, uh, it really bothered me deeply. And so, um, you know, i was filled with anger, there's a lot of anger, um, anger that you CA you couldn't really express or articulate. Um, it reminded me of some experiences I had growing up. Uh, so it was, it was, you know, the stories that I heard growing up from my, from my elders, it was all of those things, all condensed into one.
Aqueelah: You know, as a mother, you know, a parent always wants to, I believe most parents at least want to try to provide the best options for their children. You know, you want them to be safe. You want them to be able to make their mistakes and still be able to come home at night.
Black Expats BLACUGEES Clip 4
Omar: yeah. For, for me. Um, it was definitely the, the crucible, you know, of, um, of this uptick in violence against, uh, black bodies that was the deciding factor. as a father, I feel a responsibility to keep my family safe. But when society prohibits you from doing that, what do you do? when, when there's nothing that you can do to keep them safe, whether they go to school, because at that time there was a lot of school shootings, whether to just go into the store, you know, so those factors, uh, weighed on me heavily and, um, For me, it was…..sigh….just logical. You know, it just made sense. Like, okay, we can't have safety here. We can't have peace here. Well, let's find a place where we can.
So….they went to find that place.
And they joined the ranks of American expats living better versions of their lives overseas.
The first step was a scouting trip to Panama.
Black Expats BLACUGEES Clip 11
No, we hadn't ever been there. I wanted to go to Spain. Um, my wife did not want to go there fr she was afraid still. I'm going to be honest. She just was a little timid. I'm like, okay, well, you know, let's go to Panama. It's, you know, kind of American, you know, they have the canal there. They, they use U S dollars. Uh, and so it was just a convenient spot to actually, you know, kind of get her some peace because she, she didn't want to go all the way overseas to Europe.
******Black Expats BLACUGEES Clip 14
And once we went to the scout trip, I was really like, okay, this is something I feel like we could really do simply because it just was a much more like tranquil type of relaxing experience. Once we got to Panama, I remember that everything just sort of slowed down.
********Black Expats BLACUGEES Clip 15
Like, it just seemed like it was not, um, you know, bogged down with the rat race and it just made a big difference. So once we did the scout trip and we came back, I really felt like it was something I could commit to. And so, you know, we told the kids like, this is really what we think we want to do. And they were all for it. They were totally on board.
After the scouting trip sealed the deal, the next thing Omar and Aqueelah did was downsize.
They sold things, put stuff in storage and got ready to go.
They have their own marketing business so they can work anywhere as long as they have a good internet connection.
The biggest challenge was figuring out the school situation for their kids, who were both in high school at the time.
They found a school in Panama, but had to get all school records translated and notarized.
The kids, by the way, were stoked about the move.
Black Expats BLACUGEES Clip 16
I actually have some footage of it when we were on the plane and my son was like, Literally like trembling...he was so excited, bursting with excitement you know, and they were just very open.
Panama was great.
The family moved into a nice condo right on the beach.
Black Expats BLACUGEES Clip 17
The view that we had was an ocean like view, you know, and there was mountains and birds and it just was just a beautiful experience. And I'm like, okay, this could be something. If I remain open and not have so much of having to have my specific us creature comforts, I might get something out of this experience. So I sort of opened up and allowed myself to see what was going to unfold, you know?
From Panama, the family decided they wanted to keep moving. So they enrolled the boys in a homeschool program and went to Columbia.
And then they just kept going.
Black Expats BLACUGEES Clip 20
….Panama, Colombia, um, Mexico, Nicaragua, Spain, and then Portugal.
Black Expats BLACUGEES Clip 21
Columbia is definitely number one for our children. They love Columbia out of all of the other countries that we've mentioned, including the U S they love, absolutely love Columbia.
Omar and Aqueelah didn’t completely escape the threat of racism. It’s everywhere.
But they say it just felt different
It is not anywhere near similar to what is, uh, here in the U S so, um, there's like there's racism. Here in the U S that's oftentimes violent or, uh, very suppressive, uh, to where it prohibits you from, uh, being able to have forward mobility. Uh, whereas in these other places, it's more of a bias. It's more of a prejudice or, um, uh, typecasting. As opposed to wriggling to set up systems to suppress you. So, so it's not, it's not this it's not the same at all.
BEAT FADES OUT
Police in other countries can look super intimidating.
In some parts of the world, including parts they traveled to, police are armed with automatic weapons and look more like soldiers heading to war than police patrolling a city.
Like, the first thing you see when you cross the border from San Diego to Tijuana are a few armed guards dressed in camo, bulletproof vests and giant guns.
And yet...Omar and Aqueelah say everything was gravy. They just didn’t feel threatened by police in other countries the way they do in the U.S. For once, they didn’t feel like they were the targets…
Black Expats BLACUGEES Clip 27
Aqueelah: But it's. It certainly wasn't the threat of violence or feeling like if I'm driving down the street, you know, I could get stopped in something could terribly go awry. Like I never experienced that in any place that we lived outside of the States.
Omar: Like even like, even in Panama, right there, cops like have like guns, like assault rifles, like they're all like standing outside the banks with assault rifles. And that was a big staggering, like, Whoa, okay, wait, hold up. Pause. That guy has a big gun and, you know, in other places such as Mexico, same thing, but I never felt, um, threatened I never felt like something could happen to me. Right. From these police people. Yeah. So that was, that was a bit different even in Portugal. Um, you know, the police were, they were actually kind of cool. They were just kind of down to earth people like, you know, and, um, so it was, it was a different type of interaction, um, or, um, consideration when it came to police from. These other, from these other places
Black Expats BLACUGEES Clip 28
Aqueelah: You will every once in a while have a police officer that will try to pull you over and maybe try to, you know, as they. Call it quote, unquote "gringo you." You, you know, and try to get like a little bribe out of you or something like that, you know? And you're just like, I don't, I don't know, you know, no entiendo... I don't understand, you know, I, you know so...
When we talked to The Dames family they were in Florida... Hunkering down for the pandemic. But since then, they picked up and moved to Playa del Carmen, Mexico...a town about an hour south of Cancun.
They say the thing they keep coming back to...the thing they’re most thankful for when it comes to living overseas...is the way it made their kids feel.
Black Expats BLACUGEES Clip 31
….it does give them a level of balance because they're sort of like, okay….Maybe I don't have to experience this, you know, maybe this doesn't have to be a part of my path, you know?
BLACUGEES ONLINE VIDEO CLIP
And now Omar and Aqueelah want more Black people in the U.S. to have that same realization.
BLACUGEES ONLINE VIDEO CLIP 2
They created the Blacugees brand on Instagram and started a facebook group.
They’ve also started doing videos, sharing their experiences and other Black traveler’s stories about living abroad.
Black Expats BLACUGEES Clip 33
You know, we don't necessarily feel at peace in our own country. So we sort of felt like refugees a little bit, you know, and we felt like, you know, Hey, let's go ahead and see if there is another place on other places that will provide that sense of safety and charity that we feel all human beings are. Entitled to
Black Expats BLACUGEES Clip 36
Listen, I love America and she may not love me back, but I love her. Right. It's like a funny relationship. Right. But, um, I love America. Um, my family, you know, fought in Wars for this country. Right. You know, um, We've suffered and helped to develop this place.
I will never under any circumstance give up my citizenship rights to this country because I feel I contributed to building it. And so did my ancestors.
Black Expats BLACUGEES Clip 34
I think before the pandemic, um, white America didn't really see, or get it like, like in mass, right. Um, And I think with the pandemic, you know, everybody having to stay in a house and this is just all you're seeing on the internet all the time, and it's just coming up over and over and over. And it's just outrageous after the, the George Floyd, uh, situation is just kind of erupted. Right. And so, but that pressure, um, that, that absolute exhaustion, um, Has been with some people for quite some time.
even though, you know, the, the UN has recognized black people as refugees, most people don't realize that. They don't know that. And there are some countries that will recognize African Americans and provide them with refugee status, some countries won't. But the objective is to take people that are under this crucible, this pressure, this crushing burden, and let them know that there are options. And there is information available to provide you with another path if you choose, if that's what you choose. Um, I think that what that does is it lifts that that burden, it, it, it actually alleviates that depression and, um, it provides a hope and, and it gives people something to move toward, um, in a time where, um, there is clearly a cultural crisis in America.
BEAT FADE TO SILENCE
Black Expat David Jones Clip 38
I feel safer here in Mexico than I have ever felt an America in my life as a black man that I can say.
Here’s David Jones again...
And I give you a prime example. Two days ago, I'm out hanging out at my favorite little spot on the beach. I had a bottle of scotch. I had a few drinks side of it. I'm smoking a cigar in a hurry to go see some friends I'm zipping through the traffic police pulls me over. I said, okay. Now in my mind, if I was in America, I'm thinking, okay, do I need to turn on my phone and start recording? Cause I might not make it out of this ordeal. Chances are, I may not make it. If I was in America, this guy comes up. Hey, I saw you going, you're going kind of fast. You're going through the traffic and blah, blah, blah. Oh, by the way, I smell alcohol and you got to registration and polarization. I'm a wallet. He holds a registration. Like they blow right here. He's Oh, I smell alcohol. Why don't you get the talk and talk and talk. And I just pull out my wallet, pull out $40 and his hand was sitting right there. I said, look, man, I hope you have a good day. You slit it. It's okay. Bye bye. Yeah.
In America...stuck in that same situation, a Black man pulled over after having a few drinks....
David says he thinks things could get real bad, real fast.
Black Expat David Jones Clip 39
All I have to say is I'd rather be out of $40. That'd be out of my life. You get what I'm saying?
And that's an issue and a culture that, yeah, it's not exactly. Professionally correct. But I get to live, how about that?
And so, uh, I, I deal with it. I'd rather, I, like I said, I'd be out of a few dollars then to be that my mom son's life. And that's an issue in America that you really gotta worry about. You just do. It's just the culture they've set.
To connect with David Jones and other Black expats, search for the “Black Expats” and “Black in Tijuana” groups on Facebook. You can find Omar and Aqueelah’s Blacugees project on Facebook and Instagram. It’s spelled b-l-a-c-u-g-e-e-s.
Port of Entry is written and produced by Kinsee Morlan. Emily Jankowski is our director of sound design. Curtis Fox edits the show. Lisa Morissette is operations manager. John Decker is director of programming. Port of Entry is made possible (in part) by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.I’m Alan Lilienthal. Thank you for listening.
Next time on the podcast….
Jorge Clip 59
The Kora, you hear the Kora...It almost sounds like a voice, right, singing, cuz it has so many chords. This is the instrument that eventually some would argue that the harp comes from. And also this is an instrument that influenced a lot of the Spanish guitar, you know, like flamenco,
We take a mini trip through the evolution of Latin music with afromexicano researcher Jorge Gonzalez. Jorge helps us trace the roots of Latin music back to West Africa.
Port of Entry
These are cross-border stories that connect us. Border people often inhabit this in-between place. From KPBS and PRX, “Port of Entry” tells personal stories from this place — stories of love, hope, struggle and survival from border crossers, fronterizxs and other people whose lives are shaped by the wall. Rooted in San Diego with tendrils reaching into Tijuana. Hosted by Alan Lilienthal, produced by Kinsee Morlan and sound design by Emily Jankowski.