This article explores the experiences of some Black South African families affected by international migration. Historically, emigration from South Africa has occurred in waves, and has been associated with specific political moments. Such migration has often been perceived as a predominantly “White phenomenon”, but recent trends reveal a more complex picture. Prior research on Black migration has focused primarily on internal labour migration, exilic migration and the “brain drain” phenomenon of medical professionals. So far, little research has been done on the impact of international outward migration on the Black family system. This article addresses this gap, drawing on a larger qualitative project exploring the impact of South African emigration on elderly family members staying behind. The findings highlight the significance of close relational ties in the Black South African family system. Familial separation through emigration brings feelings of loss and apprehension for the wellbeing of family members living abroad, including potential racism in destination countries. Migrants abroad highlighted the value of family and of maintaining a Black South African identity, despite separation from the country of origin and the extended family. Significantly, migration is often perceived as a temporary state, in contrast to White South African counterparts. Given increased international migration, the results shed light on the interplay between racial identity and emigration, and the impact of international migration by Black South Africans on family that they leave behind.