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Confession: Asia is the Safest Place for Black Americans

Speaking of Asia, in which city would you feel most at home? The Philippines is a beautiful chain of islands in the Pacific ocean. When I think back to my school days, I remember I learned a bit about the history of this island nation. If I recall, the one word that comes to mind is, tumultuous.

Are there a group of people called Filipinos? This question springs to mind when attempting to understand this nation and how its people think. The Filipino people are a mix of Chinese, Japanese and Spanish in their ethnic heritage.

The people who are almost never mentioned and who are more a part of the Filipino heritage than these new comers, are the diminutive blacks; namely the Aeta tribe. Yes, there are black people who come from The Philippines.

It’s been quite a while since BAM! has posted to the Manila stories section of the site. The last time was over a year ago. We were able to have a sort of party with the Aeta people in the Tarlac area. They look just like us!

Well, we’re back in Manila. This time we are talking to Kareem Jackson. Please watch his interview below. Kareem spent his formative years between Kansas City, Missouri and Los Angeles in the United States. He now lives in the Philippines and, to hear him tell it, he’s never been happier.

He’s doing a boat load of interesting things all over this country; from running several different magazines, to The Philippines only African-American radio show host to working with The Philippines tourism board to increase tourism to his city.

Kareem is now 47 years old. He was kind enough to share that with us. We caught up with him in an area called Mololos City. It’s about an hour outside of Manila. It took me 3 hours to reach his home because Manila has a horrific problem with traffic. This region was a nightmare for me to get to.

After I took a taxi, I was required to take an hour-long bus ride to Robinson Mall. You will know this place is you are familiar with the Manila area. After that, I took a tricycle ride for about 30 minutes out to Kareem’s house. The journey left me exhausted.

Kareem lives in a gated community. This is a feature not many black Americans get to experience. He invited me to his home to conduct this interview. Over the course of my time there, Kareem impressed upon me, his take on life in the Philippines, being a black man. For him, it’s illogical to live anywhere else. Our culture, our particular charisma and our attitudes about life all serve us a lot better than they would in the US.

He and I both agreed that the culture in the Philippines is strikingly similar to the culture that black Americans practice. They are like us in so many of the ways that we have been taught to hide. What is unique about the Philippines is how they view us and the things we have to contribute.

Here’s a familiar expression: ‘If you keep doing that n!&&@r s#!t, these white folks ain’t gonna hire you.’ Every African-American has said that or heard that at some point in their lives. We are trained to be ashamed of so many things that are peculiar to us. Sometimes we should but sometimes this is absurd. In the Philippines, none of our attributes carry the negative stigma that we have all been trained to repress. Our creativity and our approaches to life’s problems make is more highly sought after; especially in the job market.

This past year, Kareem has decided to make The Philippines his permanent home. That makes sense, given how busy he is. Some of the projects he’s involved in, can be seen at:, and . Bulihan is where he feels safe and where he feels welcomed. After 7 years, he is no longer a transient but is putting down roots. Listen to Kareem as he goes into detail about all these things.

What do you think?