Ari Lennox accused Amsterdam airport officials of profiling her. For many Black tourists, racism abroad is a harsh reality

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Two blacks read terminal signs in an airport.
Black American travelers often report experiencing racism, discrimination while venturing abroad.Martin-DM/Getty Images
  • Ari Lennox was arrested after accusing Amsterdam airport officials of racially profiling her.

  • A Dutch court ruled that police officers can stop any citizen based on their race or ethnicity.

  • 54% of US Black travelers said representation in advertising makes it more likely for them to visit.

R&B artist Ari Lennox was arrested at Amsterdam Schiphol airport after Dutch military officers accused the artist of aggressive behavior towards an airline official and being inebriated

The "Pressure" singer, meanwhile, is accusing an airline staff member of racially profiling her upon entry into the country. In a series of tweets, Lennox describes how law enforcement officials approached her.

"I'm being arrested in Amsterdam for reacting to a woman racially profiling me," she wrote. "Fuck Amsterdam security. They hate Black people."

Border police spokesman Robert van Kapel addressed the matter in a statement explaining officers "found a woman full of emotions that wouldn't calm down."

Dreamville Records and Ari Lennox's management did not respond to Insider's requests for comment.

The Netherlands has been ranked as the least racist country in the world by US News.

Yet Lennox's story is a direct foil to the pervasive racial-utopia myth that can persist within the US: that Europe has achieved the impossible – the existence of a society somehow "absent" of racism.

For many, the reality of traveling while Black does not reflect stories or experiences of citizens of African descent - who have had to endure the damaging effects of colonialism created by European countries.

—deray (@deray) November 29, 2021

 

"Regardless of what European country you're in, if it's not predominantly Black, you will see the difference in how you're treated as Black person," Martinique Lewis, president of the Black Travel Alliance and diversity expert, told Insider.

"They will either be fascinated or disgusted, and trust me, you will know," she added.

As a frequent traveler who has also visited the Netherlands, she acknowledges that her American privilege often keeps her from experiencing the same realities as Black people from other countries.

Black tourists contribute to a billion dollar travel market

In the year following Black Lives Matter protests that reached a global fervor in response to the death of George Floyd, Black people from the African diaspora have also challenged governments like the Netherlands on their colonial past.

The conversation around the death of an unarmed Black American man became the foundation to challenge how both citizens of African descent, and Black tourists face pervasive racism.

"There is a stark difference in the way African Americansm versus Africans, are treated, with people from the continent being treated as if they are all criminals and prostitutes, and African Americans as athletes and entertainers," Lewis explains.

This is compounded by numerous stories by Black American travelers and content creators talking about leaving the US to escape the harsh racism they endure daily.

These travelers also come to these countries with their spending power, which makes them especially attractive to business owners in the country who offer preferential treatment because of their American status.

According to a recent study from MMGY Global, Black Americans spent more than $100 billion on leisure in 2019 alone, representing around 13% of the US leisure travel market.

Despite the massive growth of the Black travel market, many Black tourists often learn that while racism does not exist in the same way as it does in the United States, it is still very nefarious and impacts their experiences abroad.

In the same study, 54% of US Black travelers said that seeing Black representation in destination advertising makes it more likely for them to visit.

This was a stark difference from Black travelers coming from France or Germany which range from 15-27%. This is mostly due to the fact that the history of colonization differs from America's history of racism.

Black Lives Matter protest continue to inspire a global reckoning

Black protestors holds up a sign in Dutch during a demonstration.
Protestors earlier this year demonstrated outside a police station in Rotterdam, Netherlands to demand the resignation of police and overhaul of policies they call racist..NurPhoto/Getty Images

Back in the Netherlands, a Hague District courtroom ruled in September that Dutch police had a legal right to stop a person solely based on their race or ethnicity.

The ruling was in response to Mpanzu Bamenga, a Dutch city councilor of Congolese descent who sued the government alleging he was taken off a flight from Rome to the Netherlands because he "didn't look Dutch."

"Every time that I'm coming home to my country, the Netherlands, I'm being stopped because of my ethnicity," Bamenga told the Associated Press about his experiences.

Activist groups have argued that the officers are known to harass citizens based on their skin color. Amnesty Netherlands' Director, Dagmar Oudshoom, said in a statement that the organization plans to appeal the decision that "tramples Article 1 of the Dutch constitution."

"By ruling that police can target people based on skin color and race, the court has allowed a practice that is in a clear violation of the prohibition against discrimination to continue," Oudshoom explains.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte last held conversations with racial justice activists in June of 2020 about the racial discrimination minorities face in the Netherlands but activists on the ground still say that the country has a long way to go before coming to a true reckoning with their colonial past and its devastating effects to African countries.

While the history of American racism is known globally, it does not mean the rest of the world is absent of racist practices that are culturally shifted by the history of colonization.

Lennox's story is a reflection of many Black travelers like Lewis who often encourage Black American tourists to visit these countries and take time to learn about the Black history that exists outside of the United States.

Read the original article on Insider