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

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

PUBLISHED: Jun 4, 2020 7:52 AM

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.  

Travel Noire: What is the best part about living in Oaxaxa?

The Roberts: In no particular order. One of the best things is the food. Oaxaca is known in Mexico as the place to go for the best food. It’s super-rich, delicious food.

Things like memelas and tlayudas are really cheap.  It’s also called the “Land of Seven Moles” because they prepare seven different kinds of sauces here.

There’s a lot of fresh food, fruits, and vegetables that are super cheap.

It’s also just so beautiful. You’re surrounded by natural beauty all the time. Oaxaca is a city that’s in the mountains. I’m looking out my window right now and I can see these gorgeous mountains everywhere. It’s gorgeous.

I can literally see this mountain that has this ancient ruin that’s centuries old. It was once the Zapotec capital.

Photo courtesy of Jay and Ashley Roberts

Travel Noire: What would you tell our readers about relocating? 

The Roberts: No matter where you go, as long as you have this beautiful melanated skin, it’s going to be racism all around the world. We’ve been told by the locals that we’re bold to live in Latin America. 

My black skin here is not a death sentence. I’m not worried about being accosted or gunned down. I’m not experiencing the systematic racism that the United States had offered me and my family.

You can keep up with The Roberts and all of their adventures abroad through their website or on Instagram.