Posted on February 26, 2023

Black Women Are Banding Together to Leave America Behind. Here’s Why

Lebawit Lily Girma, Bloomberg, February 15, 2023

In 2015, Stephanie Perry left her job as a pharmacy technician on the night shift and spent 12 months traveling across Southeast Asia, Australia and parts of Europe. {snip}

She wasn’t alone. The past three years of Covid-19 and increased social upheaval in America have caused a small but significant exodus of Black professional women from the US in search of a better quality of life. They are packing up, some with kids in tow, starting businesses abroad and not looking back.

Michelle Wedderburn, now in her 50s, says she left Florida for San Miguel de Allende in 2018 with her now 10-year-old son primarily because she wanted to raise him to be bilingual, but also because she was concerned about school shootings in the US and the easy access to illegal drugs in South Florida. “I wanted his childhood to resemble a time when things were simpler,” she says. “Mexico provides us with this.”

Ashley Cleveland, a high-income tech professional working 60-hour weeks in Atlanta, got her third pink slip in five years in January 2020. After therapy for burnout and severe depression, the then-36-year-old realized she needed to change her environment. “I was living in a society that did not value the mental or physical wellness of Black women,” she says. Cleveland moved to Tanzania with her daughters, age 2 and 11, before settling in South Africa a month ago.

In September 2020, Perry co-founded the ExodUS Summit, a digital platform to help women determine how to leave the US. It featured talks on planning for long-term travel, finding house-sitting opportunities abroad and turning expertise into an online business. Perry thought a dozen women might sign up for the event, but more than 3,000 registered. In 2022 the third online summit hosted more than 4,500. A private Facebook group now includes almost 9,000 members who share relocation tips and host meetups in the US and overseas. Other groups have also formed since 2020, such as Blaxit Global.

“This is a movement,” Perry says. “I think Black women have discovered that the American dream is not necessarily possible in America.” {snip}


Popular relocation destinations among Black Americans include Mexico, Portugal and the Caribbean. Some have settled as far away as Bangkok. “I expect there to be a time when we look back and say this was another Great Migration,” Perry says. Many of these destinations have a lower cost of living.

Racist encounters aren’t eliminated abroad, but life can be easier thanks to the privilege that comes with being an American. “Outside of the US, money often trumps anti-Blackness,” says Dowe, though she recognizes the issue is fraught. {snip}


Buying as a Black person in America “is not sustainable. It doesn’t shelter you from racism and White supremacy,” Cleveland says {snip}