Have you ever been doing something you thought was normal but soon realized that many people did not see it that way? That is how I felt at the airport en route to Washington D.C. when my response to the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agent of “I’m going to watch a soccer game” when he asked why I was heading there, was met with a glaring stare of disbelief and scepticism. I guess that the US CBP officer had never encountered a young, (I was 21 at the time), single, black female travelling to watch soccer. He followed up with questions about the teams playing and where the game was going to be held. After I answered those questions, I directed him to my flip through my passport and see the Brazilian VISA that I was granted when I went to the FIFA World Cup just one month prior. He lightened up and believed me, once he saw that.
What this experience taught me is that although I grew up playing and watching soccer and it seemed perfectly normal for me to be a fan, and travel to watch my two favourite teams face off in a preseason friendly, it is not as common a sight for many others.
I also take precautions when I am travelling abroad solo.
“I was made aware of the inherent biases that people hold, and how they perceive me.”
Is this experience going to stop me from doing things that give me joy? From travelling solo? From travelling to watch football? Of course not. But it did make me aware of the perceptions people have of me while I’m doing things. It was disappointing to have had experienced this, but it otherwise did not hinder me from having an amazing time.