“When They See Us”
Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to South East Asia with a group of young African American men and women. This was our first time in Bali and we were so excited for our visit. Like everyone else we saw the photos on Instagram with people on the Bali Swings and in the flower baths and those are just a few things we wanted to experience ourselves but little did we know, our experience would be something that couldn’t be captured in a simple Instagram photo.
As of 2018 there is about 4.2 Million people living on the island of Bali. The Balinese people are known for their positive disposition and generally go out of their way to avoid conflict. While we were there in Bali we experienced this first hand. The people were so nice and inviting. They welcomed us with open arms and just wanted to see us enjoy their beautiful island but there is always one bad apple that can ruin it for everyone.
We were enjoying ourselves at a day party at the most famous hot spot in Bali. We had a beautiful view of the beach while we ate and danced. We all ordered food separately from the same waiter but at different times during our time there. One of us received our check before the others and we were shocked by what we saw! It said “Nigga” on the top of the check. Can you believe this? Out of all the things that could be written on the check the waiter chooses to use this term to describe a group of people he was serving.
Now, you probably thought we started “wildin” once we saw what he had written but that was far from the case. Initially, we thought maybe this could have been the waiter’s name, trying to be positive but after asking him what his name was it was far from what he had written on the check. We then proceeded to speak with the manager on duty, who of course apologized and after a few minutes, decided to return the money that our friend had already spent. After that, we all decided to head to the exit before everyone else received the food they had ordered and requested to speak with the associate manager. After waiting about 10 minutes to see the associate manager we just decided to leave (because in the words of Kendrick Lamar we were not going to let this b**** kill our vibe.) Before we hoped in our taxi to head to the next location, the associate manager ran out to “sincerely” apologize and said that he would deal with that particular waiter. He offered our friend who received this on his check a bunch of free stuff if he and our group were to return but that was not enough.
So, I’m wondering when “they” (people from outside of the USA) see us what do they see? Did this waiter know what the term meant? Did this waiter think he was being cool by writing this on the check? We will never know, but I want to ask you have you ever faced this as an African American when traveling to another country outside of the United States of America. If so, please leave a comment below we would love to hear your story.