The Black Expat: 'Our Black Skin Is Not A Death Sentence In Oaxaca, Mexico'
Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Jay and Ashley Roberts

Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Jay and Ashley Roberts

The Black Expat: 'Our Black Skin Is Not A Death Sentence In Oaxaca, Mexico'

Parker Diakite
Parker Diakite Jun 4, 2020

As the world mourns yet public lynching of a Black person in the United States who was killed by law enforcement, it confirmed Jay and Ashley Roberts’s decision to pick up and move to Oaxaca, Mexico.

“It’s a giant confirmation that we got out at the right time,” said Ashley.  

“My Black skin here is not a death sentence,” Jay added.

Escaping institutional racism wasn’t the only reason behind leaving. When Ashley was pregnant with their second child,  they began to look at the world through a different lens.

“We had a home birth with our second child and I was struggling to get time off,” said Jay.  “It just made me realize a lot of things. For example, how the country treats women. Here it is, America is supposed to be one of the greatest countries in the world and look at the infant mortality rate and the maternal mortality rate among Black women.”

Photo courtesy of Jay and Ashley Roberts

And while Jay pondered the struggles many Black pregnant women face in the United States, including his wife, Ashley reflected on his.

“I was just seeing him coming home from work every day tired and drained, you know the whole rat race,” she told Travel Noire. “It was demoralizing.”

Their original plan was to simplify their live and relocate from their home in Chicago.

The couple realized a move abroad would be best after exploring cities across the county during a one-month-long road trip.

Known as “The Black Family Abroad,” this family of four has made Oaxaca, Mexico their new home. 

Travel Noire: Do you and your family feel are accepted there?

The Roberts: We really do feel like that because first and foremost, there are 16 different nationalities here. We live in the mountains but if you go down and take a bus route to the coast, there is an Afro-Mexican population. 

There’s so much diversity in this state and so much culture. We don’t feel like we’re outsiders, per se.  People are intrigued by us. One day we come out of the restaurant and I saw a lady tell her son to look at those beautiful African Americans.

We find that people are really curious about us. Our hair is usually in an afro so people always tell us our hair is beautiful.