While I am far from happy with the state of American race relations, specifically when it comes to the injustice system, at least I know it. No, I’m not an attorney and I never formally studied the law past certain elective courses that touched on certain legal subjects. What I am, however, is a citizen of my country who knows that, though black men and women are often disenfranchised when it comes to the court system, there are rights we are supposed to have and, if those rights are violated, we can appeal for quite some time (unless, of course, we are murdered by the police, which is also a very real possibility in America).
I digress. I am writing this because, as a learned black man who travels internationally frequently with his black wife, I do my best to keep up with stories across the world. I subscribe to an array of publications from Blavity to Valet Magazine to the New York Times and, in keeping up with articles, both domestic and international, I’ve read about American citizens who have been detained/imprisoned abroad. While it doesn’t happen frequently enough to hit national headlines (unless the offender is one of the Ball boys), Americans are often detained for doing stupid things. And, though I do believe in law and order, I know that 1) punishment should be doled out in an unbiased manner and 2) the punishment should match the crime. But, in some nations, that’s just not the case. Take the case of Wendell Brown, for example. Wendell is a black man whose only crime was defending himself against a Chinese citizen by shoving him. There is a video that completely supports this statement. Now, he is serving a four-year sentence in a Chinese prison. President Trump and his staff have refused to come to this American citizen’s aid. Click here to read more.
As the saying goes, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” Have fun, but do so with an awareness that the person who hits you may possess rights that you don’t. Because laws are dynamic, it is impossible to know every law in every nation that you want to visit but know that ignorance of the law is not a defense in most cases. Stay smart. Stay safe.
Make staying safe a priority.