Black Men Smile® Monday: BLACK IN DUBAI
I moved to Dubai and it changed my life!
I was Americanized… I was stuck in a rut, the rat race, the “work until you die” and the "live for the weekend" mentality. There was nothing much more than that for me, at the time. I had a good job and a passionate business as a youth motivational speaker. Although I did good work, I never felt fulfilled. There was still something missing. 38 years old and I had never left the country. I was at a point in my life where, frankly, something had to give. I needed a breakthrough and I needed it NOW!
Thankfully, as church folks say, my steps were already ordered and all I needed to do was recognize it, believe it, and walk; so, I did. Listen, I’ve always had one foot in and one foot out of church, although I pray and meditate often, but I have found it interesting that God has a way to pointing you toward a growth direction. Our job is simply to recognize it and walk. I let go of it all, did what I felt was right, and here I am.
After living here for one year, I can say with confidence that I now know what true freedom feels like. I can say with confidence that I have never felt more Black. I can also say for a fact that the world needs Black Americans.
I have often heard that every American should serve one year in the military to understand America better. IT IS MY CONTENTION THAT EVERY BLACK AMERICAN SHOULD LIVE AT LEAST ONE YEAR OUTSIDE OF AMERICA TO UNDERSTAND OUR BLACKNESS AND OUR BLACK AMERICAN-NESS BETTER.
Things are different here, for sure, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. I love seeing the Burj Kalifa from almost anywhere in the city. I love the desert safaris, Global Village, Kite Beach, and that everything delivers (food, groceries, dry cleaning, you name it). I love meeting real Indians, Pakistanis, Yemeni, Saudis, Emiratis, Irish, Philipino, and all the other nationalities here. I love it when Brown Skinned Arabic, Muslim, and African strangers call me “brother” and give me dap like we grew up down the street from each other back home in “EasAtlanna Jawjuh”. This is an experience that every Black American needs to have at least once in our lives. I’m living it, and you should too. Believe it or not, there are a ton of Black folks here. There are chapters of Fraternities and Sororities and we are represented in every industry holding it down. There are parties, get-togethers, meet-ups, and more, and each time is an event!
Please hear me clearly, I am now living in one of the most beautiful and safest places on the planet Earth. My wife and son are with me, our extended families now have a reason to visit and a place to crash when they visit this place, and we are enjoying each moment of our new lives together. We will return home as truly global citizens with a renewed purpose, and reinvigorated spirits to travel the world and share our positive blackness with as many people as we can.
Just one year abroad will change your perspective on the world. From the purview of a Black American Man, you will see your view and your role as a Black Man in a new and broader perspective. My smile is larger and brighter now and I’m happier & more fulfilled than I have been in a really long time. What in the hell was I thinking by making this move? I was thinking that my life would either fly or die and I’ll be doggone if we ain’t flying right now!
You can follow our journey on Instagram (@BlackInDubai) & YouTube (Black In Dubai). I’d love to connect with you.
--Jason D. Etheridge -Unapologetic Black Man, Educator, Speaker, Social Entrepreneur, and Atlanta Native.
Jason is the first feature of our weekly series Black Men Smile® Monday, weekly in-depth profile of amazing Black men...and stories about what makes them smile! Follow link for instructions for how you can be featured.