Thanks for reading and responding. I think you misunderstood my comment because I it was perhaps too terse to be clear. Please allow me to elaborate.

I’m not calling out Black in Bali specifically or ethic communities generally. I was referring to foreign ethnic subcultures in fragile socio/economic conditions found in developing countries.

Unlike you I don’t live in Bali full time. I’ve been to Bali somewhere between 15 to 20 times starting in the 80’s. not counting business meetings in Nusa Dua (which I don’t think qualify as a trip to Bali). My holiday stays generally range from 2 to 4 weeks. I only speak a little Bahasa Indonesia myself, but my wife is fluent being that her mother was from Indonesia and we have many family members living there. Now that I am retired, we started investigating purchase/lease of long term property and might have a had a permanent home there by now, if not for COVID. I’m a resident of SE Asia now for about two decades, but I grew up in a predominantly African American community in New York. I’m not sure how you jumped to the conclusion that I clearly haven’t spent time in Bali or don’t know the two cultures based on my brief comment.

Irrespective of my Bali credentials, it is unrelated to my comment as I said “developing country” of which Bali is clearly one. The issue I am highlighting is not unique to Bali or Black communities, as I tried to make clear.

I’ve spent almost four decades living and working in developing countries and have a pretty good understanding of economic and social development. I also have academic credentials in developmental economics and geography. I don’t think it is valid to dismiss my comment as ignorant of the situation, especially as it is not specific to Bali.

I didn’t comment in any way to indicate I have some objection to people being healers, spiritual practitioners or whatever they may be, and I certainly think it doesn’t matter what skin colour they are.

Seeing people of African dissent has always been rare in Bali, but much less so now. It wasn’t because anyone kept them out. And one should not assume they are Black unless they say they are. Black is an American political and cultural identity, not a skin colour. I’d infer you are American and know this, but state this for other readers that might not be.

On some of my trips to holiday in Bali with close family friends who happen to be Black, there was no indication they were being discriminated against in any way, so I can see how this might be liberating. Granted, a two week holiday is probably not a good test (a two week holiday is possible in the US without experiencing racial discrimination too).

From my experience of Balinese, they are very welcoming of everyone, even if you are not necessarily bringing dollars. I was invited to a wedding by the father of the bride after a chat in a coffee shop. That might be less common now, but on my trip in 2019 our driver for the day invited us to see his farm at the end of the trip and we had tea there with him. It is an amazing and unique culture. I’d hate to see it adulterated. Again, I am not talking about Black in Bali specifically, but rather the tendency to create ethnic enclaves for cultural colonisers.

I say this because I think it is fine to form ethnic cliques or organise when you are fighting oppression or feel that your culture is underrepresented in the place you are from as might be the case for American immigrants. It is not appropriate to do so when you move to a developing country where you are not oppressed. I’m not talking about social circles, but rather advocacy groups or self-isolation and enclaves (which you tell me Black in Bali is not).

There is also Nepali in Bali and other social media media groups for people to make connections. But, if you move to Bali with the intent of being a Black in Bali or a Nepali in Bali, rather than just live like a Balinese (that doesn’t mean you have to file your teeth) you are going for the wrong reason.

From your description of Black in Bali it sounds fine, though it’s not my place to approve or not of any specific community. I say this because your response makes my comment seem like it was about Black in Bali, which it wasn’t. I did not make a comment against the existence of this community. It was against the promotion of the idea of Black in Bali being the goal rather than a means, which was apparently the mistake Gray made… as well as being Gay in Bali.

Bali and places like it are experiencing culture-shock in reverse. It is not Bali’s role to provide an oasis for people fleeing their place of birth. Settlers often become Pilgrims and the natives are the “Indians”. It can be cultural colonialism. It sounds like Black in Bali is about adopting Balinese culture, rather than promoting Black culture. If so, it sounds wonderful. Unfortunately, it is also an exception then. You can see it as you travel from Kota Beach along the coastal roads. It looks a lot like Miami Beach now. Maybe you have not been there long enough to see the change. In the country side you can see long stretches of traditional Balinese homes and suddenly something right out of Architectural Digest. It might be beautiful, but sorely misplaced.

It is this insensitivity that I object to no matter where you comes from. I think it would a shame if the locals start to think of Black people in Bali as Black people in Bali. Or, Christian people in Bali or Japanese people in Bali. Or whatever. If you are making it your home, not holiday destination, you should assimilate. Go native. That doesn’t mean that Black people or Japanese people or Russian people can’t share their culture with locals who are curious. But, it should not be an organisational goal to promote your origins in a developing social/economic context. (Exceptions can exist for human rights abuses, but that is another topic not related to Bali).

Specifically in Bali, as you know, there is already a caste system. They are a Hindu minority in a predominantly Muslim country where controls on movement for Javanese and other Indonesian entering/working are already necessary. It has been the sight of horrific terrorist attacks. Neither the Balinese nor the national sentiments are accepting of Gays, even if it is technically legal as you've stated. It doesn’t need any imported identity politics from the US.

It is not my intention to single out the Black in Bali community. If people want to gather with others with similar origins around a Facebook page where Balinese and non-blacks are welcome to join maybe I would even join. Gray was making a business of being Black in Bali by promoting it as a solution for Blacks and LGBT people. I know of Balinese gay people bracing for the backlash now. Some of them have been critical of Gray on social media.

There is a common expression in Asian collectivist societies that goes something like, “the nail that sticks up gets hammered down”. Conformity is revered more than individualism.

The culture and the government are extremely sensitive to harmony and stability and that is the real reason Kristen Gray got a ticket home, as she should. She crossed an invisible line that she had not yet learned to see due to her American sensibilities.

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