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Latrese Williams is one such black traveler. When Ms. Williams goes out in Chicago or pretty much anywhere else in the United States, she said, she often feels ignored by men who seem to barely register her existence. These polar reactions occur, she said, because she is black.
Williams said in her home in the Monti neighborhood of Rome. In November, she moved in with her Italian boyfriend, whom she met on Tinder in Rome. Unlike traditional tour operators, companies like Black Girl Travel and Venus Affect provide dating advice and assistance finding a romantic partner, along with sightseeing. Online, Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr posts show photos of black women with Italian men or black women with white men in Italy; Facebook groups and YouTube videos contain lengthy discussions about Italian men loving black women.
At the time, she felt that she was filling an empty spot in the travel market. Now you look ahead 13 years and we have basically inspired a whole subculture of international travelers. Weaver describes Black Girl Travel as a concierge and private club rather than a travel or dating agency, but her clients consider it to be both.
Black Girl Travel has welcomed more than a thousand black women from across the world to Italy, Ms. Weaver said. She insists that her main goal is to encourage black women to love themselves first. Williams, 44, who felt ignored in the United States, had studied abroad in Germany during graduate school and recalls visiting Rome and hating it at the time.
She went home to Illinois to establish her career and, she thought, a relationship. Twenty years later, frustrated with her job and her romantic life, she booked a Bella Italia tour with Black Girl Travel. There were about 50 other black, primarily American, women on the day trip, and at its end Ms. Williams was seriously considering the idea of looking for love in Italy. Three years later, Ms.
Williams went on a second tour with Ms. Weaver and seek advice about dating. Many women who go on the Bella Italia tour return for Ms. Weaver while she helps with all aspects of dating. The tour is named for the Audrey Hepburn-Gregory Peck movie.
When a client goes on a coffee or dinner date, Ms. Weaver might be at a table nearby, observing, taking notes and planning to give feedback to the client afterward. Williams said. Venus Affect, created by the celebrity wedding planner and event deer Diann Valentine in , works exclusively with wealthy women and matches them with men who are well-off.
Seventy-five percent of Ms. In , Ms. Italian mothers. But what these companies are selling — amore and la dolce vita — is at odds with the everyday experiences of a of black people who live or travel frequently in Italy. According to data from the International Organization for Migration, between and the first six months of , Italy had a percent increase in the of potential sex-trafficking victims arriving in the country by sea. In , the majority of those victims were black, from Nigeria. Ufomata said the companies also seem to be promoting simplified and perhaps dangerous stereotypes about black women, Italian men and Italian culture.
Italy is also not a place where people are willing to have a conversation about race, according to Francesca Moretti, 31, a black Italian contributing writer at AfroItalian Souls , a magazine that focuses on stories about black people in Italy. Moretti said. For decades, the misleading idea that black women in America are the least likely people to find love has been the topic of books, movies, television specials and countless news articles. In , the Pew Research Center found that black men are twice as likely as black women to have a spouse of a different race or ethnicity.
And a widely reported OkCupid study of American users of the dating app found that in , most men on the site rated black women as less attractive than women of other races and ethnicities. The sense of being undervalued or not admired and pursued by men as a black woman in the United States is what Ms.
Valentine and Ms. Weaver are capitalizing on. In fact, although interracial marriage has increased for all Americans, black men and women still marry each other most often ; less than 10 percent of black men and 5 percent of black women were married to a spouse of another race in , according to census data. We picked destinations to inspire you, delight you and motivate you to explore the world.
By going through census data and conducting their own research, Ivory A. In many cases, even as black women search for love in Italy, they fear negative interactions with Italian men. Many share stories of being solicited by men who assumed they were prostitutes because they were black. One woman said this happened while she was on a street corner waiting for friends outside of Rome.
Another said it happened in a store in Naples. Black women who move to Italy for love say they have been told that they are being fetishized by Italian men intrigued by black culture and physical features, but not interested in understanding more about being black or really connecting with the women as individuals.
Gichele Adams, a black woman who lives in Milan with an Italian partner and runs the short term rental company The Ghost Host Retreats , said that argument is a tool to shame black women from dating outside their race. Adams said. But Alicia Rozario, a black woman who lives in Seattle and is traveling to Milan for a month in April to decide if she wants to move permanently, said she thinks some skepticism is valid. Among the reasons the women said they found love more easily in Italy is that Italian culture encourages men to be up front about their emotions, something men in the United States and other countries are discouraged from doing, Ms.
Adams and others said. Three years ago, after moving to Paris with a partner, Ms. Adams found herself unhappy in her relationship, so she decided to go on a solo trip to Italy for a few days. While in Milan, she met Matteo La Cognata, a man who spent two days showing her the city. Before she left Milan for Venice and Rome, he invited her to stay for good. She ended her relationship and flew to Milan. She met Mr. They now have a 2-year-old son and are expecting their second child in the spring. The directness of Mr. La Cognata said.
Over time I was also attracted to her sense of independence, strength of character. He added that they do get comments from Italians who assume Ms. Adams is a migrant from Brazil or Africa who somehow does not belong in Italy. The comments, he added, are worse when she is out alone. An emotional availability Among the reasons the women said they found love more easily in Italy is that Italian culture encourages men to be up front about their emotions, something men in the United States and other countries are discouraged from doing, Ms.Men love black women
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'As a black woman I'm always fetishised': racism in the bedroom