As an occasional travel writer I often take note of U.S. State Department travel warnings. Avoid visiting certain countries, the government advises, or take extra precautions if you do.
While I was traveling in Turkey last fall, for example, the first of a series of major terrorist bombings took place, in Ankara. The State Department issued an alert, and a warning is still in effect for Turkey as of this writing. The current advisory reads: “The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of increased threats from terrorist groups throughout Turkey and to avoid travel to southeastern Turkey.”
The subtext: If you don’t have to travel somewhere, why not just be cautious and stay home? Or go somewhere else?
The other day, for the first time, I saw that a country was officially warning its citizens about traveling to the U.S. On July 9, BBC News reported that The Bahamas, a Caribbean island nation with a population of some 321,000, “has issued a rare travel advisory for its citizens visiting the US, recommending particular care for young men in cities affected by tensions over recent police shootings. The advisory warns citizens to not get involved in protests and avoid crowds.”
The warning comes after the killings by police of a black man in Minnesota and another in Louisiana, and the massacre of five officers by a lone African-American military veteran at a Dallas protest.
Per BBC News, “[s]ome 90% of the Bahamas population is black, according to the CIA.” Wikipedia says 83% are Afro-Bahamian. Whatever the exact figure, the warning obviously reflects the reality that most Bahamian travelers are black, and in the eyes of that nation – and probably many others – black men in the United States have come to be perceived as an endangered species.
When American racial tensions and violence cause similar diplomatic reactions as
Islamic State terrorist atrocities, we can come to only one conclusion:
Houston, we have a problem. Dallas too, of course. Not to mention our whole “nation indivisible.”
Not that I need The Bahamas to tell me that. The drone of NYPD helicopters over my neighborhood every night for the past five nights, keeping watch over Black Lives Matter protests in Union Square and throughout the city, is quite enough to do the trick.