By Courtney Williams, Howard University News Service
In 2016, after the election of sitting President Donald Trump, Canada’s immigration website crashed due to the influx of people (white and black) vowing to leave the U.S. In Trump’s America, racial violence appears to be an increasing problem, especially for those of color. In fact, according to a BBC survey, 73 percent of Black Americans believe that racism has gotten worse in recent years. As a result, some are starting to question if they should stay in a country that treats them as low-class citizens. The term, ‘Blaxit’ refers to the Black people who are following through on their promise to leave America.
Police violence, microaggressions and racism plague daily activities for Black men, women and children in the United States. Police brutality spawns a new victim, a new name, and a new hashtag seemingly every month. With the hostile environment of what is supposed to be “the land of the free,” it is no surprise that many Black Americans are beginning to look elsewhere for a place to call home.
But if Black people quit America, where could they go?
In a podcast interview with CNN reporter Don Lemon, Tiffanie Drayton, a Black woman and writer, describes her path to making the decision to leave her life in the U.S. behind. “By the time I graduated college, I was like I want to get the hell out here. I want to go somewhere where I can be Black, where I can be free, where I’m not going to stick out, where I’m just going to be the next woman, the next average woman. I’m not going to be a Black woman anymore,” says Drayton, “Being a Black woman is the most exhausting thing because you are fighting to be heard and you are fighting to survive.” Drayton currently lives in Trinidad and Tobago.
The desire for Blacks to relocate has been acknowledged by some African nations. Year 2019 was marked ‘The Year of Return’ in Ghana where the government encouraged Black Americans to return to the land that their ancestors were taken from 400 years earlier. Essence reported earlier this year that the number of African Americans relocating to Accra, the capital of Ghana, is on the rise, with up to 5,000 Black American expats living there. As a result of The Year of Return, Ghana saw a sharp increase in tourism. According to Barbara Oteng Gyasi, the Minister of Tourism, The Year of Return generated 1.9 billion dollars and made many consider residing and/or investing in the continent. The Ghana Tourism Authority reported that from January to September of 2019, tourism increased 45 percent from previous years with a significant amount of visitors from the United States and the United Kingdom.
The African Insider says that Ghana is among several countries in Africa that could be favorable to Black Americans who are considering resettlement. Senegal, the Congo, South Africa, and Nigeria are also seen as friendly to immigrating Americans due to their availability of technology and large population of English speakers. Thailand, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and Dubai have topped the list of countries Black people have escaped to when they’ve had enough of America.
The Black expatriate movement is not confined to the continent of Africa. Black expatriates have also travelled to European and Spanish nations as well. Sienna Brown is the founder of Las Morenas De Espana. She relocated to Spain and now helps other Black female expatriates do the same. Brown told USA Today, “It wasn’t until I had left the USA to experience Spain that I really got a sense of what freedom looks like. I was able to be 100% myself without having to worry about safety and without needing to have too much of a complex identity.”
The Black expatriate movement is not new. Black people have been relocating out of the U.S. since the end of slavery in 1865. Even prominent Black figures such as James Baldwin and W.E.B. DuBois left the United States to find a greater sense of peace from institutional racism. The Presidency of Donald Trump and the issues of race that have become more common since the beginning of his campaign could cause the number of Black expatriates to increase. The election will determine the political and social climate of the U.S. Those who see four more years of a Trump presidency as a threat to Black lives may feel more inclined now to make the move. With more access to information and communities of those who have already left the country, more Blacks are becoming open to the idea of truly quitting America.