Racism driving some Black families to leave the United States

In a trend some refer to as "Blaxit," Black Americans are taking advantage of Africa's significantly reduced cost of living and perceived lack of racism and racial discrimination.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the racial reckoning following George Floyd’s murder pushed many Black Americans to go abroad in search of acceptance.

In a trend some refer to as “Blaxit,” Black Americans are taking advantage of Africa’s significantly reduced cost of living and what they described as the lack of racism and discrimination they faced in the United States, The New York Times reported.

Ashley Cleveland, 39, moved from Atlanta to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in 2020. Currently based in South Africa, she has a firm that assists foreigners in investing in and expanding their businesses.

Racism in the United States -- South African flag
Black Americans are relocating to Africa in droves in search of peace, a lower cost of living and an ancestral connection. The flag of South Africa is pictured above. (Photo Credit: Adobe Stock)

Cleveland expressed appreciation that race is “an abstract concept” in much of Africa.

“Seeing Black African people on the money, on the billboards,” she said, “you immediately eliminate your Blackness.” Cleveland welcomed the change for her children, ages 9 and 2 when they left the U.S., noting that her elder daughter was “no longer bullied” for her deep brown skin tone.

Since 2017, the Exodus Club has assisted individuals from the African diaspora who wish to relocate to the continent. The group had roughly 30 clients when it was founded, but consultant R.J. Mahdi, 38, estimates that demand for its services has increased by at least 20% annually.

“There are 10 times as many [Black Americans] coming now as there were five or six years ago,” said Mahdi, a Black Muslim.

Black Americans make up around 14% of the U.S. population, and only 2% of them identify as Muslims. However, almost everyone in Senegal is Muslim and Black. 

“For more reasons than one,” explained Mahdi, “we’re at home.”

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After moving to Uganda to join her husband, Shoshana Kirya-Ziraba stated, she was no longer “a minority within a minority” but surrounded by people who shared her race and faith.

She and her husband live in Mbale, a small city that’s home to the Abayudaya Jewish community with about 2,000 members, where she is free from “a thousand cuts of racism.”

“Other Black people [in the U.S.] try to qualify my Blackness because I’m Jewish,” she explained, “and other Jews try to qualify my Judaism because I’m Black.”

Today, remote workers from various sectors relocate to Africa for a chance at a fresh start. Prominent advocates on social media and initiatives such as Ghana’s Beyond the Return campaign and Sierra Leone’s road to citizenship have propelled immigration; the Diaspora Affairs Office of Ghana reports that between 2019 and 2023, at least 1,500 African-American people arrived in the nation. African-Americans are traveling despite specific worries for newcomers, such as the rise of harsh anti-LGBTQ laws throughout the continent.

Still, not all Black Americans who relocate there receive the satisfaction they hoped for. Adwoa Yeboah Asantewaa Davis, a 52-year-old therapist who relocated to Accra, Ghana, in 2020, said the trauma of years of discrimination will not go away with a change of environment and may even resurface when Black Americans are foreigners in Africa. She advised Black Americans thinking about moving to escape racism to try therapy first.

“You’re coming here and you’re expecting that everybody’s Black, so I’m going to be OK,” said Davis, The Times reported. “But then you get here, and then you’re being ‘othered'” — or perceived as different.

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