Posted on October 11, 2023

Fed Up With Racism, Many Black Americans Are Leaving the US

Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times, October 10, 2023

Filmmaker Jameelah Nuriddin was locked down in Los Angeles during the pandemic, watching as the nation convulsed in protest over the murder of George Floyd, when she had an epiphany: “America does not deserve me.”

As a Black woman, Nuriddin always tried to work twice as hard as those around her, thinking: “If I’m smart enough, pretty enough, successful enough … then finally people will treat me as a human being.”

But as she grieved yet another unarmed Black man killed by police, she decided she was done trying to prove herself to a society that she felt would never really love her back.

So Nuriddin, 39, packed her bags and left.

She ended up in Costa Rica, in an idyllic beach town on the Caribbean coast that has become a hub for hundreds of Black expatriates fed up with life in the United States.

She now spends her days working for U.S. clients from chic cafes, leading healing ceremonies at a local waterfall and trying to figure out who she is, exactly, outside of an American context.

“It’s like leaving an abusive relationship,” she said of exiting the United States.

The expats forging new lives in Puerto Viejo are part of a wider exodus of Black Americans from the U.S. in recent years, with many leaving for reasons that are explicitly political.

Exhausted by anti-Black discrimination and violence back home, they are building communities in countries such as Portugal, Ghana, Colombia and Mexico.

Often referred to as “Blaxit,” which combines the words “Black” and “exit,” the movement has been boosted by social media, where influencers share inspirational posts about their odysseys abroad and challenge others to join them.

It is also aided by a new industry of businesses that provide relocation services specifically for African Americans, and by Facebook and WhatsApp groups such as “Black in Bali,” “Black in Tulum” and “Brothas & Sistas in Mexico City,” whose members share tips on everything from how to pay local bills to where to find good hairstylists.

There are no official statistics on how many have left the country. But academics say it may be one of the most significant emigrations of African Americans since the first half of last century, when many Black artists decamped to Europe.


On a rainy late summer afternoon in Mexico City, Tiara Darnell raced around her packed restaurant, hugging friends hello as she delivered heaping plates of fried chicken to crowded tables of customers.


Darnell’s new home is one point on a map of emerging Black émigrée hubs: Mexico City or Bangkok for those who want a faster pace; Cartagena, Colombia, or Tulum, Mexico, for lovers of the beach; Accra, Ghana for those hoping to connect with their African roots.

Some countries have made an explicit push to draw African Americans. “You do not have to stay where you are not wanted forever,” Ghana’s tourism minister said at a ceremony there marking Floyd’s death in 2020. “You have a choice, and Africa is waiting for you.”

When Darnell started hosting soul food dinners in her apartment, dozens of strangers would show up, hungry for a taste of home. She was able to open a restaurant with the money she had saved in moving to Mexico and paying cheaper rent.


As the rain came down in sheets outside, Davis sipped cocktails with a few friends and talked about what it means to be Black in Mexico City. Mexico never had formal segregation, and it has a smaller Black population than the United States. But discrimination based on skin color is rampant here, with darker-skinned Mexicans earning 52% less than their lighter compatriots, according to a study by Vanderbilt University.

“Coming here it was rough for me,” said Davis. “I get more stares here than I did in Thailand.” {snip}

“Anti-Blackness is a global thing, it’s not just in the United States,” said Christa Shelton, a 47-year-old personal trainer who leads online workouts for clients back in the U.S. “I have not had that in my experience here. That’s not to say that colorism doesn’t exist. I’m sure it does.”


When family members inquire about the risks in Mexico, Parker said she tells them: “You should probably be more afraid of the white man at your local Target.”

Davis, a professor at the University of Connecticut, has been on the road for months studying the Blaxit movement, visiting Cambodia, Spain, Turkey and nearly two dozen other countries.

She is particularly interested in the fact that the movement is largely female-led, and the ways that early trailblazers have paved pathways for more people to come abroad.

“There are underground railroads that people have created,” she said. “I’ve discovered a whole bunch of Harriet Tubmans.”