Travel Much? Don’t Do These 8 ‘Offensive’ American Things (Watch)

World Map with continents on curved horizon -computer generated

*”All around the world same song.” Remember groovin’ to that piece by Digital Underground back in the day? Ah the memories. Well get over ’em because apparently lead singer ‘Shock G’ didn’t know what he was talking about. He obviously hadn’t been all around the world because if he had, he would’ve realize many countries definitely sing a different tune.

There are SO many things that we, as Americans, do here at home that folks in other countries get bent all out of shape over. Humph! Who knew that if I see something cool and I want to recognize that by giving a ‘thumbs up’ – I am insulting the people in Latin America, Western Africa, Russia and Greece? Come to find out there are a LOT of things folks in the U.S. do that don’t go over well at ALL in the world at large.

And baby, you would be surprised at what they are.

So if you’re planning on visiting that cousin who lives abroad this winter, or having your honeymoon or annual vacation in any of the surrounding “neighborhoods” of the world I’ve got one word for you.


Not until you take a look at this list, that is.

Sitting in the back of a cab.

Remember, we’re talking about offensive. Yeah, what you’re thinking right now? That was my first thought: WTF?

But riding the Uber service kind of got me used to sitting in the front anyway. Now it feels kind of weird to sit in the back (though I do if the driver gives me a certain ‘vibe’ or I just don’t feel like being sociable…which is rare). But honey, if you try sitting in the back of a taxi in Australia, New Zealand, parts of Ireland, Scotland, and the Netherlands be prepared, you WILL get the side-eye from the driver!

Laughing with your mouth open.

Oh come ON! What do people just sit around and think this sh*t up? In Japan, if you laugh and show your teeth its paramount to eating with your mouth open. Ugh! Clearly, I’ve got to pay closer attention to some of my Japanese friends on this one. Is that why some Asians put their hands up to their mouths and chuckle demurely? Hmm…

Calling the USA, America.

You know, one thing that I always thought was interesting when traveling outside of this country is that the term “African American” no longer identifies you. If you’ve ever used your passport to go anywhere, or even in some countries where you don’t need a passport, you are simply referred to as “American.” I actually think that’s kind of cool.

But that’s besides the point – because if you go to South America, and refer to the USA as ‘America’ they see it as insulting because where does that leave them? They’d prefer you call the USA…the United States! 

Being on time.

Oh, my people are going to LOVE this one! Take note. If you arrive to an invitation dinner on time in Argentina you might get cussed out. South and Latin American cultures don’t play that. Its like inviting someone to dinner in Brooklyn, and having them show up an hour early. (Brooklyn in da house?)

Using your left hand for anything.

Now as a left handed person I feel like grabbing my boy, Paul McCartney (another left-hander), and taking a trip to India, Sri Lanka, the Middle East and Africa and using that left hand to SLAP THE MESS OUT OF SOMEBODY! How dare they bring up wiping your butt as the reason why they consider anything else you do with that hand DISGUSTING. 

THAT remark, my fellow humans in the aforementioned countries, might cost you some tourism dollars. Humph!

Want to ‘spice up’ your meal with some hot sauce or other condiments…DON’T.

See, this is where some folks are going to draw the line when they think about visiting  France, Italy, and Spain and requesting something that will alter the taste of your meal. So if you don’t see pepper or sugar or soy sauce on the table, would you consider doing without it? If your answer is uh-uh, and its that serious to you — you might want to consider going to another country instead.

Don’t drink that wine if you didn’t bring it to the party.

OK, many might think the folks in Norway have lost their mind on this one. Back home, here in the states, we get the side-eye if we DON’T bring a bottle to the party and share it. But in Norway, if you drink the alcohol that Buddy brought to the event, you are just plain WRONG!

Whew! So glad Norway appears to be the only place where this hang up exists!

Uh, you’re Touching me. Don’t!

Many people are going to have a problem with this. Take ME for instance (although I am aware of the ‘no touching’ issue when in mixed company). I am a natural hugger. Its often what I do when meeting someone. This is a general custom for many of us black folk.

Yet in places such as China, Thailand, Korea, and the Middle East – personal space should be respected. Even a slight touch on the arm can raise a brow.

Now don’t let the information I’ve shared here put a bad taste in your mouth about traveling the world. Travel is good and learning is growth. I just want to leave you with this (and the cool video below!):

  • Don’t give your thumbs up to just any ‘ole body when you leave the confines of the U.S.
  • Think of that cabbie as your new buddy. Sit up front with him or her.
  • Think of America as just The United States…at least while you’re gone.
  • Cover your mouth when you laugh
  • Don’t drink. But if you must, drink the wine YOU brought to the party
  • Get over your need to alter your food. Eat it as is, or don’t eat out at all.
  • Say ‘nice to meet you’ and keep it moving. No touching…anywhere…just to be safe
  • Left-handed people stay home. It’s just best that way. You don’t want to end up in a foreign jail for slapping the shit outta somebody…WITH that hand!
  • And as brother James Brown used to say, “whats-n-eva-you-do,” DON’T be on time!

Now you KNOW I’m not going to bring up such an awesome song and not revisit it on the real. Take a load off and travel back to Memory Lane with me and Digital Underground featuring 2Pac on ‘Same Song.’ Then let me know of your travel plans.


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