On many levels, finding a sense of community wherever one lives is extremely important. Whether it is a large community of friends, family, and co-workers or whether it is a smaller community of immediate family; community brings a sense of belonging which is a fundamental need for all humans.
Finding a Sense of Community
This fundamental need for a sense of belonging brings about many prickly questions when examining the Black experience both in America and abroad. Whether Black Americans and Black women specifically realize a general sense of belonging in their own country is a question that many great African American writers have explored. This question becomes even more complicated when examining the increasing trend of Black women expats that have found a greater sense of self, freedom, and financial success in other countries.
For me personally, finding common trends in stories of Black women expats is inspiring and curious. It is inspiring as it shows how truly resilient we are. Black women are survivors, breadwinners, pioneers, entrepreneurs, C-suite level executives, you name it. In the international community, we have overcome challenges in our home countries and then struggled to pick up our bags to continue thriving and growing in other countries.
The trend also highlights greater issues and challenges for Black women – socioeconomic, health and financial factors serve as pressure points to push us out of our comfort zone into the unknown. Examining stories of black women expats across the world, there is a very clear and evident trend among the group – perseverance, and resilience.
Showing Up Big
As I’ve started to cultivate a community of black women entrepreneurs online, I’ve realized how much we as Black women have shown up in unexpected spaces; and not only shown up but have really excelled. In China and Singapore alone, I’ve met women that have started their own clothing lines, consulting businesses, logistics companies, and even catering businesses. In China, language did not seem to be a major blocker for them. These women navigated the market, setting up legal entities, partnering with local companies, and getting a local marketing strategy in place to suit Chinese consumer tastes.
The Importance of Community for Black Women Expats
In my personal experience, I have always found satisfaction in a good adventure and challenge. Wandering around the streets of Huzhou in 2000, being met with stares of amazement and bewilderment was exhilarating. Learning Mandarin Chinese at that time was also an adventure, and even more of an adventure to use it when least expected. But finally taking all of these skills, these challenges, and stitching them together to build something that I can fully call my own is the greatest accomplishment.
I’m not sure if others would have quit the journey were they in my shoes. I had a few mentors and advisors along the way, but I did not have a community of black women expats cheering me on. It would have been so much easier to push through the disappointments and setbacks abroad if I had a group of like-minded women to provide support. This is why I am so vocal about cheering on and supporting black women expats and black women entrepreneurs abroad.
I’ve started a Clubhouse Club called “BLK WMN Hustlers in Asia” to host many of the discussions that are so central to this group of women. The topics range from “How is it to live in Singapore?”, to “Power Networking Hour with Black Women Entrepreneurs in China.” The best part about these discussions is that everyone is authentic and open to helping one another. People are genuinely interested in linking up and collaborating offline, and also supporting and promoting each other’s business needs. Everyone realizes the importance of community. In these rooms, the search for community ends, along with the need to be tough and resilient. We take time to let our hair down and truly see one another.