“What Is It Like Being Black In Cambodia?”

By: Michelle Jackson

July 25, 2020

The Black experience is usually nearly the same no matter where someone black chooses to live or travel, within the U.S. It is also an experience that is becoming quite difficult, as the thermostat of injustice, hate and discrimination are on a steep incline towards blacks. Many are currently finding their existence in the U.S. devastatingly uncomfortable. Since the recent death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, instances of racism and crimes against black people in the U.S. have undoubtedly increased.

In the light of what is happening worldwide, as many nations are working hard to eradicate the existence of racial disparities, many blacks have begun to travel more and more around the globe to places where they feel more welcomed…places where they feel they can start a new life for themselves and their families. Traveling while black, has recently become an increasingly popular topic. As citizens of the U.S., a country swelling with racial discrimination and injustice, it is really difficult for many, including us, to remain when no solutions to police brutality and racism are anywhere in sight.

In 2019, just as our experience in the United Arab Emirates was coming to an end, after almost 4 years, another great opportunity came along, that would take us farther east to the country of Cambodia. Though our experience in the UAE was a life-changing experience that we will never forget, we decided that it was time to move forward with the next chapter of our journeys. As a black family, the moved to Siem Reap, Cambodia (a small country situated in southeast Asia just east of Thailand),  has definitely given us a different picture of how people in other parts of the world feel about race. Living in another country, on another continent, has definitely opened our eyes to the truth about racism. Though it may still exist on a smaller scale in other countries, I can say that it doesn’t necessarily encompass every aspect of life to the level that we have seen it in the U.S.

In Siem Reap, Cambodia

Angkor Wat Temple (Siem Reap)

Phnom Kulen Mountain National Park

The largest reclining buddha in Cambodia – Phnom Kulen Mountain National Park

The waterfalls of Phnom Kulen Mountains

Cambodians are indeed, very warm and welcoming people. When we first arrived in Cambodia, our experience getting settled, was quite comfortable. We received smiles and kind words where ever we went. The customer service we received in restaurants, hotels and stores, was very highly rated, and we didn’t receive any rude looks just because of our difference in appearance.

Check out this Interview of 4 Perspectives on the Black Experience in Cambodia!

Not once have we, as a Black American family, felt threatened, belittled or unjustly treated, while living here. We have truly been enjoying our stay, and could easily call it home for a while. It is a country where many religions, people of diverse ethnic backgrounds, and walks of life live together in harmony. Even though there is not a large number of Black Americans or blacks from other countries here in Cambodia, we still feel that sense of calm and acceptance as we travel around.

Pride for their culture is also very visible throughout the country, as it is woven into both city and village life, food, music, etc., and they are eager to share it with any visitor who ventures to come here. Regardless, to their own social and personal issues, most Cambodians continue to treat visitors with just as much respect and warmth as one would a friend or family member.

We definitely suggest a visit to Cambodia to any traveler looking for an adventure, a new interesting culture to explore, or just a really relaxed, vibrant and inexpensive place to live and/or retire. One thing for sure is that we are happy that we made a decision to come here.

Aeon Mall II – Phnom Penh, Cambodia (capital city)

Taking a speed boat on Koh Rong Sanloem Island

All pictures by: Unapologetic Nomads

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