If you’ve seen any of my previous posts, or basically any part of my blog site, you know at least one thing about me: I LOVE to travel. In travel-related media, though, there’s almost zero representation of Black people. Try this: Google something generic, like “people traveling,” or “people on vacation,” or “traveler,” and click the images tab. What do you see? Better yet, what don’t you see?
I want to explain why this matters to me, because it’s not just an arbitrary aesthetic thing. There is real power and influence in media representation because it often shapes how minorities are viewed by the rest of society. But maybe more importantly than that, it also influences how we view ourselves. I started this blog because I love to travel. I love how it grants me a better understanding of myself by putting me in novel and unfamiliar situations that shed light on who I am and who I want to be. But I also started it because it’s really important to me to show the people around me and other Black people that international travel and having overseas experiences is for us too. Because I genuinely didn’t recognize that growing up. There weren’t very many images of that in the 90’s and 2000s (I’m 28…but my birthday is in a couple days 😉 ).
Anyway, I think more representation of various identity groups will serve to increase our understanding of one another, ya know? That’s why I started this dope project that spotlights other Black travelers and why traveling is important to them! So if you don’t read anything else I post, PLEASE read through these stories. It won’t even take you that long. And let me know what you think!
Ready, set, go.
Hi! My name’s Danesha. I’m a very novice traveller, my first time abroad was when I was 24 years old.
Traveling has become something that brings so much value and joy to my life. I truly believe traveling matters because it disrupts convenient thinking and opinions. It allows us to expand our perspectives outside of the societal conditioning we were raised in, though I also think there has to be some intentionality in this effort as well. There’s a popular saying that states something along the lines of you don’t grow if you’re comfortable. Well traveling can come with some uncomfortable situations but I found those can also be the most valuable moments where I come out a little better as a person.
Having the opportunity to travel has allowed me to become more humanistic in my understanding of the world, particularly within my Black identity. I have been able to use my experience and lens of oppressed systems such as racism and classism to critically understand global forms of oppression that permeate in many corners of the world. Places like Kobé, Japan, Ho Chi Min City, Vietnam, and Port Louis, Mauritius, have taught me that ways of being human are both different and the same, and at the same time, being a Black American in those spaces are still at times a challenge. Challenges with stereotypes, racism, and prejudices have taught me that being Black is a global experience and fight, which actually brings me hope because I also found a sense of understanding and community in those spaces, a sense of heightening my awareness.
Through these experiences, I look forward to sharing my story and experiences with others so that they can connect to the larger global experiences. I encourage people to travel to see how other humans and cultures live, thrive, and also face similar societal challenges. If you’re interested, follow my travel experiences @ByeValissa. Safe Travels!
Hi my name is Seneca. I think traveling is important because it gives you some head space to put things into perspective. Once you get into the habit of traveling it makes it difficult to go back to life as usual. Traveling gives you an opportunity to imagine yourself in other situations and to really understand the things that are most important to you. For many people, traveling is seen as time to escape but for me it’s really time to confront myself and to better understand who I am.
Growing up Dominican in the US, I feel like I have always occupied this lonely space of not being enough. I wasn’t Dominican enough because I was born and raised in the US and didn’t spend summers in DR. I wasn’t American enough because I spoke Spanish and mostly ate Dominican food at home. I wasn’t Black enough or Latinx enough as an Afro-Latina. Traveling changed that for me. I recently read this quote from Tom Feelings, “But, if this part of our history could be told in such a way that those chains of the past, those shackles that physically bound us together against our wills could, in the telling, become spiritual links that willingly bind us together now and into the future – then that painful Middle Passage could become, ironically, a positive connecting line to all of us whether living inside or outside the continent of Africa…” That’s how I feel about travel.
Through my experiences traveling I have seen how our roots transcend oceans and continents. How our ancestors held on to themselves and their traditions despite the impact of colonization, slavery, murdering, raping, etc. Going to places that are part of the African diaspora, I always fit in. From Ghana, to Morocco, to DR, Brazil, Cuba, Barbados, St. Thomas, etc. people from these countries and islands always think I’m a local. It’s bittersweet for me to see the impact of the Middle Passage on all these places and peoples but it also reminds me that the world is so much bigger and grander than my life. That I am connected through “spiritual links” to folks I haven’t met and places I haven’t been yet. I love all of the things I have learned about myself and the world through traveling and am so grateful for the privilege to travel. I hope my travel journeys make my ancestors happy and proud that I get to explore these roots that transcend oceans and continents and go to places that they couldn’t have imagined seeing in their lifetime.
I guess traveling has had two major effects on me: it has humbled me in so many ways as well as made me stronger and confident in my own roots. Whenever I go to a new place I learn a new way of facing life’s challenges based on what I observe in other people’s lifestyle. It is amazing to experience different cultures, different peoples and perspectives. That is humbling, since you see that your way of reasoning is just different from others. You can learn a lot from that. At the same time, as I have new experiences traveling, I learn to appreciate my own culture and find beauty in my own people and place. So, I get more confident to be myself, no matter where I am. So, traveling became a way of learning from others as I dig deeper on who I am and the type of person I want to become.
Traveling, especially for the work that I do allows me to reconnect, engage, inspire, share and most importantly learn! It’s a constant reminder that no matter where I am in the world there is someone who is advocating for something that they believe in and in my case its is conformation that there is a global community of people fighting for plastic free seas.They joy of meeting new people, reconnecting with familiar faces and learning new things is fuel for the soul that essentially ignites my passion to continue my work.
That’s it! That’s all I got for now. Thanks for checking out this project of mine.
Anything come to mind while you were reading? Let me know–I wanna hear it!