Are Russians racist towards black people? My experience

My experiences travelling as a black woman in Russia.

If you read this blog or follow me on social media, you’re probably already aware that my husband and I spent 10 days in Moscow and St. Petersburg a few months back. (Not following me on there yet? Get thee to my Facebook page or Instagram, stat!)

Like it? Pin it!

In the time since, I’ve gotten a lot of interest and questions from people about our trip.  This isn’t entirely surprising, because while Russia gets its fair share of visitors, it’s not a hugely popular destination for most holidaymakers.

That Russia is not on the average traveller’s radar could be due to a few factors. The weather is brutally cold most of the year,  it has a reputation for being eye-wateringly expensive, and its sordid political past (and unstable political future) make it far more attractive to vacation in tourist hubs located in nearby Western Europe.  (In 2015, London and Paris were ranked the 1st and 3rd most visited cities in the world, respectively.)


Moreover, though it may be purely conjecture, Russians are not renowned as being the warmest or friendliest people.  Russia thus remains largely unexplored by the general tourist population.

Given all the above, I totally get why people are interested in our Russian holiday– their interest comes from a place of simply not knowing. But apart from the frequent “So, what’s it like?” questions, my trip has also elicited a lot of curiosity from fellow black travellers who ask, time and time again, what it was like to travel there as a person who is melanin-blessed.

As I share my pictures and observations online, I get variations of the same question over and over:

“Is it true that Russians are racist towards black people?”

“Did you suffer any racial discrimination in Russia?”

“What was your experience in Russia travelling as a black woman?”

In this post, I’m going to share my experiences.

Some historical context: African-descended people in Russia

In order to understand why this question pops up so much, it’s necessary to understand the history of African-descended people in Russia and former Soviet republics. In my research on the web, I was surprised to discover that black folks have long had a presence in what was known as the USSR: according to this article, hundreds of African-Americans travelled to the region between 1920 and 1930 in an attempt to make a better life for themselves, as well as to escape the economic strife and racial persecution they faced in the USA.

Blacks from the African continent weren’t far behind: this article explains that they relocated to the Soviet Union in large numbers, recruited by officials promising a free university education. The social climate for black people at that time was thus good, with skilled black labourers and professionals often receiving red carpet treatment in the form of enviable salaries and subsidized housing.


But this contrasts sharply with recent depictions of race relations in Russia. A quick Google search reveals articles about hostility against blacks across the country, which at its “best” has included verbal abuse (like the racial epithets hurled at black soccer players by fans during matches) and at its worst has culminated in outright physical violence during games on Russian soil.

It’s thus no surprise that black travellers of the present day are concerned about their safety and well-being while travelling in Russia.  Will “Travelling While Black” on Russian soil put them in harm’s way?

Travelling While Black in Russia– My experience

The short version: I had no issues at all during my  time in Moscow and St. Petersburg– in fact, I was treated exceptionally well.  I got a *lot* of love from local people and this was shocking to me based on what I’d heard and read about race relations in Russia.


The long version: I felt like I was received with open arms during my stay.  I got some curious looks, but none of the long, laser-focused stares I’ve encountered in many parts of Asia.  People were extremely polite, helpful and cordial, especially in Moscow, which is decidedly the most “Russian” of the two cities (St. Petersburg looks and feels very Western European. I also found it to be way more touristy and easier to navigate as English, as opposed to just Russian language, is written and spoken far more widely than in Moscow).  Here are some examples of the encounters I had in Moscow that stuck out to me most:

  • Russian people, unsolicited, approached us on the street and on the subway to offer help with getting around. Moscow’s subway can be daunting as all the signage is in the Cyrillic alphabet and most guidebooks and maps have the stations’ names written in Roman characters. At times, we struggled, but never had difficulty receiving assistance. On one occasion, seeing the look of puzzlement on our faces, a gentleman stopped and, despite his halting English, took five minutes to point us in the right direction.
  • The elderly lady in the subway car who smiled at me and patted the seat adjacent, beseeching me to sit down beside her.
  • The security guard at the Europeisky mall who, upon discovering I was from Canada, engaged us in an animated discussion about his love for my country— he once lived and worked in Nova Scotia.
  • The young man working in the Adidas shoe store who treated me with care and provided me with exceptional service.  He thanked me for visiting his country, and implored me to explore more of it. He also lamented the fact that Russians have a reputation the world over for being “bad people”.
  • The older man in the same shoe store who came from the other end of shop to tell me which shoes to buy. “Lady, the black one better,” he said.  “You need shoes to run from Russian man!”

These are a few (anecdotal) examples that show why I found my experience in Russia to be extremely pleasant overall.  In no way did I ever feel myself to be discriminated against because of my race. However, please note that these are my personal experiences and that there are a variety of factors that may or may not have impacted how I was treated.  What are they? Read on.

Why you should perhaps take my assessment with a large grain of salt

+I’m a black woman, not a black man. I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge this.  Black women that travel are less of a perceived threat than black men– blame mass media, who seem hell bent on propagating the idea that black men are imposing, dangerous, criminal.

+I’m petite and appear non-threatening.  At 5 foot 3, and 130 lbs, I’m small–I constitute no physical threat. I’m also very smiley.  My countenance oozes positivity and that puts most people at ease.


+I only went Moscow and St. Petersburg. These cities are very cosmopolitan and though they are not on the same level as London, Paris, or Rome, they get many visitors yearly.  Russians in these cities are well-educated and used to both seeing and interacting with foreign visitors.  Had I ventured “off the beaten path”, to more rural cities, my experience might have been different.
+I spent 90% of my time in the company of a white man.  My husband is Caucasian and, though he hails from Germany, was often mistaken as a local.  It would be reckless to not acknowledge that being in his presence the vast majority of the time possibly shielded me from untoward reactions.  That being said, aware of this, I made sure to spend two afternoons exploring on my own.  Strangely enough, I found people treated me way more nicely when I was by myself (see my encounter above, in the shoe store) .


+I speak “American” English and present as a distinctly North American person. Again, it’s important to acknowledge that my “American-ness” , blue passport, and “American” physical aspect provide a layer of security, even in places that are known for being racist, prejudicial, and/or discriminatory.  My voice and my clothing scream Western tourist and in many places this is an advantage. Don’t believe the hype, in many countries Americans are put on a pedestal and given preferential treatment.

So is Russia racist against black people? Should they travel there?

This is a question that I still find difficult to answer. My experience was extremely positive, but there are so many factors dictating this that it’s difficult to provide a definitive response that would apply to all.  Personally, I would (and will) return.  The architecture is stunning, the history and culture immersive, the food divine.  However, on my next visit, I would like to venture outside of the main cities and explore elsewhere– Russia is too large to rely on just Moscow and St. Petersburg for an accurate depiction of what it’s about.


One thing is for sure, however, you’ll never know what Russia is truly like until you go over there and see it for yourself–this is the same for any country, city, or territory.  So, to my fellow black people: I say go forth and explore, always taking care to arm yourself beforehand with information, anecdotes, and evidence.

Watch my Youtube video about my experiences in Russia:


Black people, I’d love to know: has the threat of racism in Russia (or any other country) stopped you from travelling there?  Have you ever been the victim of racial discrimination abroad? Where?  And for those of you who have been to Russia, what were your experiences?


Is Russia Racist? Travelling While Black in Russia

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    Caroline Achieng Otieno
    July 18, 2016 at 4:42 pm

    I love your wording in this post, you’ve approached the subject with much thoughtfulness and not with, “Hey, I was in Russia, and I’m black and therefore they love blacks!!”
    One of my brother’s studied in Russia for seven years, it was in the late 90’s to early 2000’s..he came back in 2005, he was in his thirties, but his hair turned white (stress + winter?) he was visibly traumatized. He had begun in Moscow Friendship University, but had to leave because of the fear of skinheads. Some Africans and Asian students had been targeted and lynched just because of being a different darker shade. In public transportation, he was often poked in the ribs by elderly Russian women, and shoved out of the way. The police constantly stopped him and asked for identification. My brother ended up moving to Kursk, but when he went back to Kenya, he swore never to step in Europe after that.

    Obviously, experiences are very unique, but I do agree that black females have it better. I have a female friend, black Kenyan as well studying in Volgograd, it’s manageable for her, she is doing okay.
    Despite the stories, I’d love to see Russia. My brother had other positive stories, that Russia had the best pastries and a very unique architectural aesthetic with colourful dome-shaped buildings. That vodka was cheaper than water?
    I’d go into these countries without fear, because my experience has been that every place has it’s negatives and positives, but because humanity is everywhere, things will always pan out alright.
    I live in the Netherlands and find it tolerant; but Ive faced discrimination. I’m almost always followed around in stores. I’ve been shouted at in buses and boats. The dutch are pretty cool..it’s just a few folk that act really racist.

    • Reply
      Caroline Achieng Otieno
      July 18, 2016 at 4:44 pm

      I forgot to mention..Here in the Netherlands, I have gotten different ‘preferential’ treatment when with a white guy.

    • Reply
      Omo and Eulanda
      October 5, 2016 at 4:24 pm

      Love your candid assessment of the situation. Oneika’s article definitely addressed a tricky subject for many black travellers in a tactful and thoughtful way

    • Reply
      November 16, 2017 at 12:52 pm

      and most of blacks in RUSSIA are suspected to be spies for CIA and FBI, in Tanzania one of former student in russia called DR.LUIS SHIKA was injected something in his body by Russians who though might be spy,

      he lost all money he had in Russia and properties in escaping trouble ,
      Though USA helped him to go in Tanzania and now is like insane,

      According to his explanations said he was hijacked by fellow staffs in his company Lunceford, also kidnapped to unknow area,

  • Reply
    July 18, 2016 at 5:06 pm

    The potential of racial discrimination hasn’t kept me from going to any specific country. I would say that I do like to know just how much physical violence I might encounter. Being refused service or called names still happen to me in the US (not often but it does happen) so that alone won’t stop me from traveling.

  • Reply
    July 18, 2016 at 9:47 pm

    I traveled to Ukraine in 2009 for work and while walking down a street with an Asian colleague in central Kyiv was slapped in the face by a guy which knocked me down to the ground. When I got up he was gone. So yeah I’m not sure I would risk my safety. I know a black US foreign service officer who was beat up so badly the agency who sent him decided to steer AA from posts in that region. I have traveled in the Balkans and in more southern former soviet countries with no issues.

  • Reply
    July 19, 2016 at 7:14 am

    This is great and very nuanced, there are so many factors besides race that make up your impression on others. I find that solo travel for me is exceptionally easy, I appear non threathened. I’ve been told I have a baby face so people feel maternalistic or paternalistic towards me and try to help. In Rome I felt it the most, I was even mistaken for this one shop owner’s daughter for a few minutes….who is 11, it was quote a few years ago but I was no no where near that age.

    While you can’t assess in one visit if an entire country is racist at least you have put out a balanced post and all you can do is speak from a place of truth and that is also about being with a white man the whole time, staying in large cities. I’ve seen many of a report that the people are homophobic and racist and it isn’t fair that those should tarnish the image of a whole country. But I do have to say that Russia is so low on my travel list that it doesn’t place at all. This is just because of the history I’m interested, and culture etc there are other places I’d like to go first.

    Good job and as always amazing pictures. I love the doll one the most! I’d love a print of that, hint hint 🙂

  • Reply
    July 19, 2016 at 7:16 am

    Yeah that needed a good edit, but you get what I’m saying 🙂

  • Reply
    July 19, 2016 at 7:25 am

    As an African American who traveled abroad frequently I noticed I received better treatment when traveling with my Caucasian male companion then with my Black husband or alone. What I found even more interesting, I was treated more warmly then either the Caucasian or my husband when travelling as a couple but not as much when I travelled alone. Travelling alone in the Caribbean my problems were primarily with the female hotel staff and “pushy” unwelcomed attention from some of the men. No difference from home or abroad but you do want to be on your guard a little more. Big, sincere smiles and enthusiasm goes a long way making people comfortable along with genuine interest in the people and the location. This post is extremely interesting and I look forward to more!

  • Reply
    July 20, 2016 at 6:43 pm

    Thank you for your honesty! I was so glad to see you address that you were with your husband most of the time and that you spent time away from him and still had a positive experience. My husband and I are Black, he being 6’3 and me being 5’8 so we tend to stick out even though we’re very bubbly and smiley too. I admit I was waiting anxiously for this post on your experience in Russia as I am very curious to visit Moscow and Saint Petersburg some day 🙂

  • Reply
    July 20, 2016 at 8:41 pm

    I’m glad to hear you had a positive experience in Russia and I really appreciated the nuance with which you wrote the post! Adventurous as I like to think of myself, the treatment towards the melanin inclined is something I always look into. It wouldn’t stop me from going somewhere but I definitely like to be prepared!

  • Reply
    July 23, 2016 at 1:46 am

    With everything that’s going on now (Nice, Paris, Germany, Turkey), do you feel more apprehensive about being abroad, or has it not been a factor?

    • Reply
      July 23, 2016 at 8:31 pm


      This is a very good question and I’d like to know the answer to this as well. I have the time and money to travel extensively, but recent events do concern me.

  • Reply
    July 26, 2016 at 12:54 pm

    I am in Austria now, and I do notice the stares which doesn’t bother me much… but just like you I wonder if having a white partner “shields” me … Nonetheless, the people have been great so far no complaints!

  • Reply
    July 29, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    Why do Americans say that Russians are racist even though we’re the most tolerant people in the world outside South America thanks to 70 years of Marxism? You won’t see this amount of racemixing anywhere in Europe or USA.

    And Russia is not “brutally cold” most of the year, it’s a myth. Or is -10 to -5 in winter too cold? Come on, most relevant places here have the same climate as many areas in Europe and USA. It hurts the most 🙁

    • Reply
      November 17, 2016 at 9:08 am

      I think people associate Russians with racism because it is has been widely reported that Putin encouraged the racism against President Obama. There was the birthday projection, the monkey images, the Obama chocolate covered ice cream banana etc. Even our most conservative journalist spoke out about it. I must say that I have not traveled to abroad as of yet, I first must concur this fear of flying, however, I have made friends with Germans, Russians, Polacks and they have been some of the nicest people. I don’t know if they would act differently in their home countries, but honestly meeting all of these Germans really changed my preconceived idea of German people.

    • Reply
      June 3, 2017 at 4:58 am

      The severity of the cold is over rated. I went to Iceland in early March and it was the exact same temperature as if was in my US city. I think the fahrenheit to celsius conversion throw people.

    • Reply
      June 29, 2017 at 5:16 am


  • Reply
    August 7, 2016 at 1:05 am

    Great post! Just got back from Italy, Montenegro, and Greece and the only place I felt an undercurrent of racism was in Naples, Italy. Even with the shock of Athens being a gritty, rough looking city, I found Athenians to be friendly, helpful, and shockingly honest. I don’t think I would do southern Italy again, but I had no troubles in Rome, so I will definitely revisit there.

    My old apartment had many Russians, actually the entire neighborhood was full of Russians. I never had any issues with them even though there were few blacks around. Yes, there was the pervert two doors down, but that was an individual situation. The men tend to be heavy drinkers, so I would caution solo female travellers to be cautious of their choices for evening entertainment. St. Petersburg is on my bucket list.

  • Reply
    August 23, 2016 at 1:57 am

    do you not get tired of answering this question? Do you ever plan on saying you will no long answer?

  • Reply
    August 24, 2016 at 8:19 pm

    Wow, this was such a fascinating post! Thanks for putting a fresh perspective out there in the world of travel blogging. 🙂 I’m glad your experience in Russia was so positive.

    • Reply
      July 6, 2017 at 7:17 am

      Awesome glad your travel experience was pleasant and positive we as a people to travel outside the box more Aloha and mahalo

  • Reply
    September 14, 2016 at 8:22 pm

    Oneika, this was such a thoughtful and well-written article on your experience traveling throughout Russia. Kudos to you for it!

    I recently came back from a trip to Moscow, and it was 95% great. The city is lovely, and I found Russians to be very kind, curious and friendly towards me as a Black American woman, although there was quite a huge language barrier 🙂

    Unfortunately, near the end of my trip, as I was walking alone near the Kremlin, I was physically attacked (he grabbed my butt, slapped and shouted at me in Russian) by a random stranger who ran over to me as I was casually strolling through a busy path (think about 10 minutes away from the equivalent of Times Square in NYC), then quickly ran away after hitting me. Since I have many friends in Russia, I was rarely walking alone during the trip. It was a bit surprising, to say the least! The total lack of reaction from the passerby around us was even more shocking, and frankly, spoke volumes about the culture with regards to how hate crimes are handled 🙁

    For those who are wondering, in terms of appearance, I am somewhat of a “glam” black American young woman. There is no mistaking me for a non-Western / African / etc. woman.

    Due to the negative incident, I unfortunately would generally not recommend travel to the country at this point in time for black women. I truly had an incredible time, but as mentioned earlier, I was mostly with a super hospitable group of Russian (mostly male) friends during my trip. It did seem as if I could have been seriously assaulted that day with no consequences to the attacker, which was and still is extremely unsettling. And there are so few black people in the city, that a group of black women travelers will easily stand out. Let’s hope for a more culturally open Russia in the future, because it truly is a lovely place.

  • Reply
    Jacob Lageveen
    October 9, 2016 at 3:16 pm

    I think racism exists in every country and it is not good to say ALL russians are racists, because that is just not true. A city like Moscow is built for tourists and it lives on tourists too. So people in there just want to reach as many people as possible with their stores and their tourists business, and this includes black people.
    On the other hand, Russia is a very nationalistic states, and since black people are a minority in the country, they will not be seen as pro nationalist, therefor can be hated by hardcore nationalists.

  • Reply
    October 13, 2016 at 12:44 pm

    Hi Onieka, thank you for sharing your experience of Russia! It’s refreshing to read such an honest and thoughtful piece. Since I was born and raised there, I always feel a bit apprehensive when coming across similar stories, but I am happy to hear that you had a good time there. It would be interesting to see what you think of the rest of the country!

  • Reply
    October 19, 2016 at 7:22 pm

    I am a 6 foot 3 inch black man who loves to travel internationally. I get questioned at the airports to exhaustion all the time.

    I used to travel in a suit. That raised eyebrows. and I was questioned as to my source of income etc.

    When I traveled with four pieces of luggage, they were searched because i had too many bags.

    When I traveled with two pieces of luggage the very next year, they were searched because i had too few bags.

    My wife stepped away from me and I was questioned as to weather or not I was traveling alone. My wife is Brasilian and light skin toned.

    Although I am under greater scrutiny when I travel, I am accustomed to it because at 60 years old I’ve seen it all.

    My advice to to young Black Men is, TRAVEL! Let the world see us. If we don’t tell our story, someone else will.

    • Reply
      October 7, 2017 at 3:11 am

      The older you are as a black man (60 +) seemingly appears less threatening physically and considered retired mentally worldwide. Because of the mass media black ball of black men around the world, this is the overtone. Every nation I know of has this overtone. When Black Men Evolve publicly in business and Real Leader ship in their communities this will change how the world perceives Black Men. This is why it has been made extremely difficult for a Black Men to build business in the Cities and States less worldwide. Why is it that every nationality is accepted to be supportive of its race? But when Black People unite, there is always Negative Media, Racist propaganda and an agenda to dismantle all that is progressive for Black people? Only against the Black Race.

  • Reply
    November 8, 2016 at 11:36 pm

    Oneika you have did what most of us dream of, I have did some traveling as a single person and I can truly say traveling is an education, cutural, historical and given the chances to be around the locals we learn so much from one another, I will say ” Oneika do it all if you can while you can while you are still young & have your health, keep your focus and goals to shared our travel with others by writing your blogs, you tube videos, and one day someone will ask you, to do a Diverse Travel Channel, the old saying “where one door closes another opens” congratulations I look forward to hearing more from you!

  • Reply
    November 11, 2016 at 9:48 pm

    I am an African woman, sometimes solo traveller and I have been to many countries though not yet to Russia. I personally believe that the African American experience is clearly different from the African experience. And people can make the difference. Also, the fact that you were with a Caucasian male. I am happy that you mentioned both factors because they do matter.

    • Reply
      Keeping it real
      May 12, 2017 at 5:48 pm

      Oh, so impressive! The African American is superior to the African. Congratulations! And you were even with a Caucasian male?! Wow! That’s evolution. Before you know it, you made even be considered “Caucasian-by-association”. What a load of crap. You are very easily deceived. Go ask Obama who was initially hailed the world over and later had bananas projected to the American Embassy in Moscow. You are all clueless.

    • Reply
      September 7, 2017 at 12:18 pm

      Yeah, I’m a black female American and I absolutely agree. There are countless news reports of black African students and other minorities being physically assaulted in St. Petersburg and Moscow, sometimes brutally. Many of these people are uni students too, not random visitors whose presence might cause suspicion. I travel internationally extensively, but Russia is not on my list of places to visit because I don’t believe that blacks from Western countries should spend their money in places where less privileged black people are consistently treated like crap. Israel is also not on my list, for the same reason (i.e. treatment of Ethiopians). I’ve known Russians and Ukrainians in America who were perfectly nice people so obviously this type of behavior is learned and not necessarily cultural.

      • Reply
        January 16, 2018 at 6:57 pm

        OMG! 😂😂😂😂😂
        You’re killing me lol. It’s hysterical, yet typical of black Americans, to see you put your Anti-Semitism on full display. This post has (((ZERO))) to do with Jews, which is what you’re really getting at; however, leave it to a black American to use some far fetched and random excuse(i.e. Ethiopians) to make it about Israel (code for Jews). At least you’ve given everyone proof that racists come in all colors. 👍
        😝 It’s like the pot calling the kettle black. Right?👌
        Oh…FYI, not spending money in Israel and your pity will NEVER have any impact, good or bad, on the people of Ethiopia whose plight you have uhhh…how do you say it… “culturally appropriated”. You’re obviously just virtue-signaling.
        Have a nice day. 👌

    • Reply
      October 20, 2017 at 6:15 pm

      What’s the difference

  • Reply
    November 11, 2016 at 11:40 pm

    This is a very interesting article. I habe travelled a lot too and as a black man I habe never been attracted bybm Russia especially because of fhe Russian people I met here in France, or Canada or elsewhere. Unfortunately O found them very cold. Also I think your trip went smoothly because you are a lady but they don’t appreciate men especially when they date their beautiful russian dolls. Plus your fiance is white so maybe it s more ok lol. I am not saying that they are all like this of course . And I am sure that some might be very curiouq and happy to see other races and colours around. But it’ s a old country. I am sure the architecture must be amazing .. thank you for sharing

  • Reply
    January 5, 2017 at 1:03 pm

    Thank you for your candid insight. I found the most telling section of your article to be the area regarding your personal observations vs the potential experiences for black men. My wife and I (I’m dark skinned 6′ tall 220lbs and she is 5’5″ 130lbs ) have traveled to many places where we have been the only people of color over the past 10+ years. More times than not the initial reactions I receive when I’m alone vs when I am with her are very different. Regardless of the reception I receive, I view each new encounter as an opportunity to share my story / personality and hopefully leave them with a positive image of people of color. An Image contrary to what most mass media would have them believe.

  • Reply
    April 29, 2017 at 3:11 am

    With this administration, I’m definitely going to avoid Russia as well as a lot of other countries. Right now, being an American while traveling abroad is scarier than being a black woman traveling abroad. Smh. Vote 2018.

  • Reply
    May 9, 2017 at 8:34 pm

    The Biggest Elephant in the room – black people that travel with white husbands are not going to be subjected to much racism -endpoint!!!

  • Reply
    Keeping it real
    May 12, 2017 at 5:55 pm

    You guys are always looking for validation. You gloatingly report that as an African American, you were treated superior to the manner an African would have been treated. Congratulations! And you were even with a Caucasian male?! Wow! That’s evolution. Before you know it, you may even be considered “Caucasian-by-association”. What a load of crap. You are very easily deceived. Go ask Obama who was initially hailed the world over and later had bananas projected unto his image at the American Embassy in Moscow. If they could do it to him (and he is infinitely more accomplished than you are – Caucasian husband and all), it tells me what they are about. Case closed.

    • Reply
      October 20, 2017 at 6:23 pm

      Love conqures all fear

  • Reply
    May 17, 2017 at 1:45 am

    Glad to hear you enjoyed your trip and that you found our culture beautiful and fascinating! I would recommend you to visit Vladivostok. It is far, but it is very different from the European part and it has stunning nature with its beautiful wild beaches of the Japanese sea. Best time to visit – August- beginning of september. My Dominican boyfriend has been there last year with me to visit my family and he loved it! People there are not too spoiled by western tourists, so they are happy to show their hospitality. Enjoy your further trips!

  • Reply
    May 17, 2017 at 8:37 am

    Actually am a Nigeria and I have not been to Russia before but planning to go they this year. My friend is inviting me to come but Am just scared of that county. Please I need ur advice

    • Reply
      June 2, 2017 at 8:42 pm

      There is nothing to be scared of. Really. Even if you travel alone.
      The fact you will be in Russia with a local friens makes it even more safer.

  • Reply
    Dennis Alfred
    June 14, 2017 at 8:03 pm

    Well whether I want to go or not, I will have no choice. Duty calls, and your experience gives me a better outlook on Moscow..


  • Reply
    James T
    July 9, 2017 at 5:13 pm

    Hello Oneika. Thanks for your post. Reading it help me to understand my situation with Russia. I am a 76 year old, African American male, who love to travel and teach around the world. Having two PhDs, and three masters have given me the opportunities to travel and teach. I have found that many of the things that you and others speak about in these posts, are quite true, in the countries where I taught. When I traveled with my wife, I was treated differently. I taught in Africa (1 yr.), Europe (3 yrs.), Turkey (1 yr.), China (6yrs), and in many states in the USA.
    I was scheduled to teach in Moscow, this summer and fall. In both situations, the assignments were cancelled at the last moment. After much pushing for answers, I was told by one manager, they had to let me go because they felt that “parents might ask why their child is being taught by a dark skin person”.
    Reading your post and others, has help me to understand just what he was talking about, not that I agree with his decision. I have experienced similar situations in china.
    Thanks all

  • Reply
    July 15, 2017 at 12:45 pm

    White men are perceived as being more imposing and threatening than White Women also. Just figured I’d point that out.

    • Reply
      January 20, 2018 at 1:43 am

      I’d also point out that as an average non threatening white male, I’m STILL welcomed more warmly when in the company of a woman whether it is abroad or at my local coffee shop.

      I also think that ANY tourist is a potential target. Whether it is a lack of courtesy, a scammer taxi driver or worse. I know, as a Canadian Anglophone travelling in Quebec you are often treated with a lack of courtesy (putting it mildly).

      Great article, and well written. I really like the inclusion of the personal interactions, I’m sure those people had no idea how impactful their ambassadorship was . Those kind of interactions are what I always take away with me when travelling.

      Just some considerations, that I hope aren’t perceived to diminish the reality of travelling as a black person. I’m truly saddened that this blog is even pertinent.

  • Reply
    Russian blog
    July 18, 2017 at 3:08 pm

    In my opinion Russians aren’t racists, because Russia is a large and multinational country.

  • Reply
    July 19, 2017 at 2:32 am

    Thank you for sharing! I’ve wondered about this.

  • Reply
    July 19, 2017 at 3:02 am

    I would say that your experience there was a tourist one. Ask any black african immigrant, they will tell you that life there is hell.

    • Reply
      October 20, 2017 at 6:28 pm

      Karma is real and know that love conquers fear. When people self hate it’s a internal dogma they carry to the world.

  • Reply
    July 21, 2017 at 2:39 am

    Love hearing about colored women traveling the world. I will be in Russia next year and was kinda nervous about how I would be perceived. Thank you for this post. The entire blog is really amazing and I hope to follow in your footsteps 🙂
    P.S. I’m from the NYC area as well!

  • Reply
    August 3, 2017 at 7:11 pm

    Great article to read! And if you don’t mind me saying your husband is very handsome!!

  • Reply
    August 12, 2017 at 10:13 pm

    I loved your blog. The only country I have visited is Germany (where I felt I was treated as a QUEEN) and I took a cruise to Jamaica (Did not see the people or land, only what cruise wanted me to see). I and my sisters are black and started 3 years ago travelling. Your blog is the only one stating to visit at your own risk. Altho I will not be visiting Russia soon, I believe we will have it on our list in 5 years or more.

  • Reply
    David Duke
    September 25, 2017 at 12:57 am

    I am curious how many racist black people you have encountered in your travels ? Surely you must have crossed paths with more than a few and with you being from the US there is no way you could not see black racists everyday.

  • Reply
    September 30, 2017 at 9:13 am

    The discussion of your post Russian people!

  • Reply
    September 30, 2017 at 9:24 am

    Moscow, 870 years. What the hell the tourists. My town older than America.

    I think racism exists in every country and it is not good to say ALL russians are racists, because that is just not true. A city like Moscow is built for tourists and it lives on tourists too. So people in there just want to reach as many people as possible with their stores and their tourists business, and this includes black people.
    On the other hand, Russia is a very nationalistic states, and since black people are a minority in the country, they will not be seen as pro nationalist, therefor can be hated by hardcore nationalists.

  • Reply
    October 2, 2017 at 4:53 pm

    Hi all!!! I’m Russian. I live in Saratov. African-Americans have a lot. Students. I want to tell you. The concept of black and black ass is different. Blacks, we are fine. But black ass not. Who are the black ass: thieves, beggars, Gypsies. They have actually got. About someone pinched or slapped on the ass. This is a sign that you like. Many men so Express sympathy.

    • Reply
      Philip Owen
      January 16, 2018 at 1:32 am

      Hi Elena,

      I run a trade and investment consulting business consulting In 20 years of travelling to Saratov, I have never met an African American. In fact, almost no foreigners. Where did you meet them?

      There are many Tanzanian medical students plus a few from other parts of Africa. There are also Indian medical students and some Engineering students from Nepal ( I think they go to the Technical University). The few coloured people in Saratov that I have spoken to seem happy with their stay in Russia.

      As a white male of mature years, people stop me in the street to ask for directions. On the other hand, one old lady used to follow me around the bazaar at 3rd Dachnya shouting “Nemets” (German). Again, as a white foreigner, I have been confronted by drunken youths but they were surprised at the amount of Russian I spoke, including swearwords and decided to let me go. It helped that I was recognized as living in the area and their grandmothers knew who I was. There have been pointed remarks at meetings of the Chamber of Commerce about British responsibility for Russia’s economic problems. I would never go near a football crowd.

      So there is anti foreigner sentiment which may at times be difficult to separate from racism directed at black or (brown) asian people – it’s a bit different for pale skinned asians. Immigration of unskilled migrants from Central Asia is unpopular. However, at least 95% of people are friendly, supportive and helpful particularly if you have some understanding of the culture. I wouldn’t hesitate to take my mixed race nephews and nieces (two families) to Saratov. I keep inviting them.

  • Reply
    October 3, 2017 at 7:56 am

    Dear Oneika, I have enjoyed these articles of yours about Russia, and thank you for letting the world know Russia is not ALL THAT bad. If people could travel & meet more between US & Russia a world would surely be a better place. Non-acquaintance leads to hatred, that is so true. On the other hand, as many has pointed out above, judging whole Russia by its two capitals can not be precise in any way; on a real these two cities are a lot like metropolis with the rest of the state being colony – that is an idea of the rest of the country for you to think about if you are interested. As to racial situation I don’t see anything unusual here, this simply can not be any different. Black folks are rare guests in Russia so of course they will attract attention from people around, and some of them might turn out to be bad, pushy, obnoxious. Guess its pretty much the same everywhere in the world, thats just how it is under national politics.

  • Reply
    October 3, 2017 at 9:12 am

    ,, its sordid political past (and unstable political future),,

    This is really racist.

  • Reply
    October 4, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    If you are touched by a man for an ass, then do not immediately hang a label on all the men of Russia. I think it happened to you because of that-a) this man with someone has concluded a dispute that he will do it. b) Your ass liked the man so much that he could not restrain himself. d) you met an idiot. When a man with black skin comes to Russia, he will realize that Russia is a country of white race. Therefore, a black man evokes curiosity . Russians are very kind people. But a lonely, pretty girl in a foreign country should still be more careful. You do not know our mentality, you do not know our men. Russian in your place or would hit the offender, or call this man dirty words. And yes – in fact, Russia is not Russian. This is a community of 180 nationalities.If you see a white man in Russia before you, it does not mean that he is Russian. He can be anyone – from the Caucasian to the Shorz, from the Ukrainian to the Chechen. Therefore, I’ll forgive you very much – do not be afraid of Russia. Come, travel and get acquainted with the Russians. Now it’s not 80-90 years of the last century, when criminals of all stripes walked the streets. Now a safer country than Russia, you will not find. I myself am not Russian. I’m Ukrainian. But I love Russia and Russians very muchRussians in the mainstream are defenders of justice. If you see the danger, just call for help. And people will help you. Just passers-by.

    • Reply
      A K
      November 26, 2017 at 11:04 am

      Hello Eneha, I like your post. I am a black man born and raised in England. Liverpool to be precise, and have often thought of visiting Moscow. I have always been curious about how I would be treated. I don’t believe all this anti Russian trash. Having read yours and other post I decided to reply to yours. Thank you for your input, I will visit next year.

      • Reply
        December 8, 2017 at 6:38 pm

        That’s Elena 😉

  • Reply
    October 4, 2017 at 4:42 pm

    The history of Russia is the story of another world. Russia is a completely different kind of civilization. Russian – for them there is no such concern for money, as in other nations. For the Russian do not care how much money you have, how many academic ranks or nationalities do you have. Russian is important, as you are a person; kind or evil, modest or defiant. Most of all in the world, Russians value kindness, justice, reliability and loyalty. Russians are very proud of their history. In Russian history there is a lot of heroism, self-sacrifice. So, never speak of the dark history of Russia . It is not true. Russia has a great history.

  • Reply
    Расисты ли русские? Впечатления чернокожей девушки от России | Наша страна
    October 7, 2017 at 7:50 am

    […] впечатления она описала в своем блоге (перевод с […]

  • Reply
    Are Russians racist?
    October 7, 2017 at 10:26 pm

    […] […]

  • Reply
    October 21, 2017 at 8:17 pm

    We are Russians. We never had black slaves. The state pursues marginal groups of neo-fascists. Does it very much, more than in Europe.
    We were always good to American Negroes. Angela Davis and Martin Luther King are the heroes of our communist childhood. Communism strongly condemned racism.
    But a white Amerkian can sometimes get into trouble in Russia.

  • Reply
    November 2, 2017 at 5:51 pm

    I am going to Moscow tomorrow, albeit for a day But I will go. I might leave my valuables in an airport locker just in case, I am genuinely not scared of racism as I encounter enough of that In the USA and also back where I call home in Brazil , but I Love this post, maybe I will find a white man to go with me.

    Anyways i’m gonna take a train from the airport to the Square take a few pictures walk around a bit and head back, hopefully i will post here on Sunday if I don’t Tell My Mother I Love her and someone go water my plant

  • Reply
    Eric L. Bolden
    November 2, 2017 at 9:12 pm

    As a black male traveler, I have been blessed so far to not experience racism on my traveling journeys. I do get the stares every know and then but nothing I haven’t seen before. I admire your courage for traveling to a place that has countless stories of racism against blacks. I would love to travel to Russia but with everything going on today, I do fear for my safety sometimes. Places like Russia would have to be a group visit or at least know somebody. Not a solo trip like I normally do.

  • Reply
    November 27, 2017 at 3:57 am

    What city is that behind you 6 pictures down? Is that in the United States?

    Your husband’s very nice looking. I don’t think I’ll EVER know what it’s like to be in a relationship. 🙁

  • Reply
    Travel Bloggers to Have on Your Radar in 2018 | The Pin The Map Project
    November 30, 2017 at 3:27 pm

    […] In the world of travel blogging, it is an unfortunate truth that minorities can be underrepresented, so it is important to pay attention to blogs like Oneika the Traveller, which aim to empower both women and people of color to see the world. Having traveled to 100 countries and counting, Oneika is an educator and writer who has been featured on CNN, BBC, Conde Nast Traveler and more. Onieka’s content is well informed and useful for any aspiring traveler, but for black women her writing is a key resource for tackling specific questions (what countries should black women visit?) and sharing personal stories (what it’s like to travel in Russia as a black woman). […]

  • Reply
    Maricica S
    December 2, 2017 at 3:43 am

    Moscow and what is now called St. Petersburg have been by design, best foot forward shiny examples to the western film and press. Many residents of these cities have been conditioned through the past until present to know they uphold an international image which includes tolerance to American society of which Black people are integral. The stories of Soviet/Russian out of the way tolerance and accomodation widely disseminate throughout the cities and hinterlands of America. An understanding of the open cities of European Russia would be helpful.
    Out of the interest of foreign journalists and westerners grasp of the now Russian federation are the small cities of the heartland. The small rural towns which Americans would on parallel value as having “wholesome living”, “ideal places to raise a family” may well engender a different experience which most likely not reach western press and niche media circles.
    Moscow and St. Petetsburg are among the most westernised cities of Russia. Falling in step with Europe and American experience these cities do not disappoint western reports.
    The Lake Biakal area, the whole of the Asian Soviet Union, the temperate area of the vast Siberian plains to the far east give a much better account of the Federation than the touristy or foreign impacted cities so often cited by the west, in this case American negroes.
    The brutal facts remain that slavery in the Soviet Union and the Russian Fatherland was an internal function which negated importing Negro slaves. That said there are no Black sections to Russian cities or the multitude of smaller towns comprising the Russian Federation. The European cities of Russia are decidedly for the priveliged society and no doubt an over the top experience for the Americans including their negro attache. They have been the best vehicle for the spread of Russian opposition of racial tolerance. The are large populations of indigenous peoples throughout Asian Soviet who have integtated into the masses that their story of tolerance would be meaningless.

  • Reply
    РАСИСТЫ ЛИ РУССКИЕ? | ПолитВести
    December 2, 2017 at 7:09 pm

    […] Оригинал статьи на английском […]

  • Reply
    December 8, 2017 at 6:11 am

    This means nothing. You are female, and females rarely experience “racism” other than as it pertains to society’s perception of beauty as well as sexual status, availability and other assumptions. The fact that you were with a white man makes this whole post even more meaningless – almost insulting, actually.

    • Reply
      December 10, 2017 at 9:12 pm

      Did you read the post? I basically highlighted that my positive experience may have been supported by this factors…

  • Reply
    mark carr
    December 10, 2017 at 12:05 pm

    I think looking at Russia through American eyes,media foul I grew up with russians.i like them they good to me.

  • Reply
    December 18, 2017 at 6:06 am

    Well, I am an African dude presently studying in Russia. From my experience living here, whether you are African American or purely African, the Russians don’t see the difference. To them, you are dark skinned. I can say this because most Russians I’ve met initially think of me as an “American Black”, based on my appearance and English accent. There’s always this look of disbelief when I tell them I am African. Some even go the extra mile of asking questions like; “have you lived in the US before?”… blah blah blah. But that is not the point of my comment. I just wanted to dispel the notion of “I speak “American” English and present as a distinctly North American person”, because in Russia that doesn’t matter.

    From an honest point of view based on my everyday experiences, being dark skinned in Russia means you will get a lot of attention and long stares (which can be very irritating) when you are walking on the streets, standing/sitting in a bus or at the metro. Also, the attention triples when you are with a white girl. Experiences in Moscow and St. Petersburg may be different. Russians living in these two big cities are used to seeing foreigners of other colour.

    A piece of advice: As a back-up, be mentally prepared for “Monkey Insults”, sometimes in the form of a passing comment from a group of deranged people – This rarely happens, though.

    Have I met nice people in Russia? Yes, the majority are! I have had many positive experiences where I was treated with love way more than I can remember. Have I also had experiences of being called a black Monkey by people I don’t know, for apparently no reason? Yes! For the long stares? You get used to it and turn a blind eye.

    I hope comment this helps someone.

    • Reply
      December 20, 2017 at 3:26 pm

      thanks for your perspective!

    • Reply
      Philip Owen
      January 16, 2018 at 1:41 am

      Long stares are a cultural thing. I am white and getting on in years. I often dress in Russian clothes. I have always been stared at in Russia for much longer than in other countries. There’s more to it than race. Usually, they are trying to work out who you are and where you are from. Good luck with your studies.

  • Reply
    Ify O
    December 21, 2017 at 5:59 pm

    Thank you so much for this post, Oneika, and for your measured and balanced perspective. It’s been my lifelong dream to visit Russia however what I hear and see of Russian treatment of Blacks (from a Nigerian friend who studied there in the 80s; another friend – Russian Jewish – warned against visiting; not to mention countless news reports and documentaries) has been a big deterrent so far. Maybe some day I will get to visit L’Hermitage. I live in hope!

  • Leave a Reply