I am ashamed to say I thought that way for a long time. I have seen prostitutes in Washington D.C., in Paris, in Barcelona, and now Thailand. I don’t think positively when I see them. My friend Tori calls them “working girls” as a way to humanize them. Because they’re human and should be treated as such. Honestly, my mindset has been extremely negative and like I said, I am ashamed of this.
Walking in club areas like Bangkok’s Nana or Phuket’s Patong Beach there are different types of girls “working”. Thai women, Thai “Lady Boys”, Russian women, and African women. But the women I pay the most attention to are the ones with skin like mine. I think to myself, “They are so beautiful. I wish they would do something else. They could go home. They could get jobs.”
Reading the comments from “Teaching in Thailand…While Black” people say interesting things. A few in particular have gone to social media and said things like “Sadly, Many blacks in Thailand sell drugs and teachers”. I am assuming this is a translation error but the first part is what I thought about. If people look at the “working girls” and the many men who surround them, and associate their skin tone with their actions, then they might be looking at me and think I do the same thing. That made me angry.
One night I was in a hip hop club I like to go to with a couple of African-American friends. Two of us went to the restroom and a girl who I could immediately tell was from Africa stopped us. She was beautiful, dark skin, long braids, amazing figure, short dress. She asked my friend and I if we were from America. We said yes, and we asked where she was from. She replied, “Uganda. Are you enjoying Thailand?” I responded, “My friend is having a better time than me. I am struggling a bit.”
She cut her eyes at me and began to speak harshly. This is what she said:
You are not enjoying your time here? Ha. I wish my ancestors had been taken as slaves like yours. Then I would be American. I would have a better life and a better future. This is the first country I have been to since I left Uganda. It is a beautiful country. But do you think I want to have sex with these white men? I came here to be a student so I could make my life better. Where I am from you cannot wear makeup, you cannot have a cell phone. Here I am making my life better. But no, I do not want to do what I do. I want to get my education and change.
She started to cry halfway through. I didn’t know what to do I was in shock. Literally everything I have ever thought about any prostitute I had seen in any country was changed. (Yes, prostitutes are all over the world not just Thailand.) I had to think about how terrible I must be to pass judgement on another person. I also had to think about how my experience in Thailand was a blessing and I should be more grateful. The Lord had to change my mind and He had to change it in a dramatic way. The woman cleaned herself up, went to her friends, and we didn’t make eye contact for the rest of the night.
I am sure people take away their own ideas about this story. This was just my experience. I would love to hear your ideas or your own experiences.