Yemeni Stares- What the Eyes Say


I have been trying to figure out how different Yemen is from my other experiences abroad. At first, I was struck by the respect/avoidance of women in the street. I love it when men wait till I walk up 2 or 3 steps so that they don’t get too close.

It’s so weird how even though Yemeni society is waaaaaaaaaaaay more conservative than Moroccan, it has afforded me a lot more freedom and ease than I could ever experience in El-Maghreb.

BUt then it happens, little by little I start to get annoyed. I haven’t been called slave or Nigger (yet) but to date I have been called Senegalese, Somali (innocent adjectives in and of themselves but we all know delivery is everything, i know first hand how nationalities scan be used as perjorative terms 😦 and lets not forget the apparent personal favorite of children Cau Cau
( whatever that means).

Yemen is great because unlike Morocco and Spain the white people here get the same looks that I do and they generally have some idea of what it feels like to be stared at as if you were newest attraction at the freak show. What is funny is that even the adults stare with impunity. Usually, when someone is staring at you, you stare back and they become ashamed and stop looking. But not the Yemenis, especially not the women! I thought about waving at them to get them to stop, but my Arm will probably get tired… lol

Sometimes I feel like a museum exhibition.  In fact when I went to the museum, I think many of the people spent more time looking at me than they did the artifacts!

It’s really hard to describe Yemeni stares. There the ones you get from lusty men excited to see a woman whose face isn’t covered 😦 it’s pretty disgusting  😦

There are the ones you get from kids who have never seen a black person before ( besides all the ones that clean the streets and beg in the souks ;/ … I still don’t get why they look so confused. Maybe it’s because I am a black person that is not cleaning the streets or begging that gets me the attention).

There are the ones from  women, I don’t know what the heck is going on in their heads, as I wrote above, they just stare with impunity. I think that is the stare that I hate the most.

It’s weird to see the reversal of roles. Any woman dressed the way Yemeni women do are bound to get stares in the Western world, but here in their home turf, I am the weird one, the odd woman out. Needless to say, I know how movie stars feel, it’s fun and even amusing for a while, but at the end of the day all this attention is just annoying.

I can’t wait to be home: I need a return to normalcy.


One thought on “Yemeni Stares- What the Eyes Say

  1. Margari Aziza

    This is great. There is such a dearth of Black travel writing. I look forward to reading more about your experiences abroad.

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