Discovering Community and Acceptance in Bali as a Black Woman

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Traveling the world as a black woman has been the ultimate experience of my life, wrapped with lessons and self-evolution. 

Upon leaving New York in early 2017 for my first solo backpacking trip to Southeast Asia, I anticipated a culture of acceptance. I naively believed that that's what most travelers were seeking, too. 

I quickly learned this was not always the case. There were days I dealt with microaggressions from white travelers and colorism and racism from locals.  

Recently, I found a note on my phone that was written in the "vent" folder. This phrase stuck out to me the most: 

"I wish I could have some black people around me right now". 

This is hard to re-visit. I was feeling isolated, unsupported, and without a community that felt like my own. When I speak of inclusion in this way, I’m not only referring to Black people, but also my wider community. 

During that same trip, I visited Bali, Indonesia, and I fell in love with the town of Ubud. Covered in the lush green rainforest, rice paddies, and Hindu temples at every turn, I knew it was only a matter of time before it became my home. 

Fast-forward to now, two years later since that first trip, Ubud has been a gift to my spirit. 

When I first arrived, I decided to visit the surfer town of Canggu since it's all the rage in the last few years because of its proximity to the beach, nightlife, an abundance of coffee shops and its digital nomad scene. Canggu was nice, but within five days, I headed back to the town that stole my heart. 

My definition of home is constantly changing. Some places help spark that inner reflection. Ubud continues to teach me this, and so do my travels. 

I've been able to live in a local Balinese community rich in culture and I've met the most beautiful Black community that has become my chosen family. 

As a Black woman exploring the world, I’ve been made invisible many times because of my race. Because of this, I've learned it's my personal responsibility to seek out experiences, people and places that nourish and uplift my identity… not shy away from my race. 

I take no shame in who I am, and every person I meet, I hope to pass this subtle, yet important message across. 

So far, Bali, the island of Gods, has been gracious with its love and magic in helping me find what I’ve been craving all these years. 

Strength.