When being black has its advantages

DiversityIt’s no secret that Caracas has a high crime rate. The American media has done a good job lately describing how terrible crime has gotten since a certain someone has been president (I wonder who that could be ;-))

Obviously, people are always asking me about the crime situation. My answer is that I have yet to be affected. I know that I live in a large city and crime happens. You take the normal precautions (avoid certain areas at night, jewelry to a minimum, etc.) and you go about your daily life. Just like I didn’t hang out in Liberty City or Overtown where drive by shootings are common while I lived in South Florida, I am not a neighborhood regular in Catia and Petare here in Caracas.

This is a topic that many expats have turned into the proverbial dead horse. The last time I spoke about this was with a friend from Austria and then it dawned on me – this blonde hair, blue-eyed European can really stick out when walking the streets in Caracas. Little old brown-skinned me, not so much. Aside from the regular cat calls of “morena” or “negrita”, I have yet to even feel someone giving me a funny look.

In the beginning when I would go pick up the kids from school, other parents assumed I was a nanny until they saw me with two little carbon copies of myself. Sometimes when I’m walking back into the building from dropping them off in the morning, I get looks of kindred spirits from housekeepers arriving for a day’s work. If some poor soul asks me for directions and they pick up that I’m a foreigner, it’s assumed that I’m a student. My husband is often asked by the guys he plays soccer with the name of the restaurant at which he works.

When they see me, they don’t see dollar signs – they see a service sector worker or a student, at best. There’d be no point in kidnapping me because my family is probably too poor to pay any ransom. As advised, I don’t wear gold jewelry so even mugging me would be a waste of time. I know this rationale probably sounds ludicrous, but they’re all the types of crimes that you hear happen very frequently in Caracas.

Hence, I feel pretty safe here because I’m black. Who woulda thunk it?!

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