I have friends seeking to learn more about the inequalities and injustice Black people experience in many aspects of their daily lives. This is not only an issue in the United States but a global issue. The only way to eliminate this disparity is by speaking up. Since I am a travel blogger I thought it would be best to describe my travel experiences and observations. At the end of this post, I listed suggestions on how everyone, regardless of skin color, can help remove the racial inequalities Black people deal with every day.
Sometimes we were the only People of Color
I have been traveling since I before I was 10 years old. My parents made sure I had every opportunity they didn’t have. I went to Toronto, Disney World, Myrtle Beach. There were trips to the Poconos, Killington, VT, upstate NY, Denver, and New Zealand. I also went to Peru and Spain for student programs. My parents wanted to make sure I had as many opportunities as they could afford. Sometimes those opportunities would put my family in a situation where we were the only people of color.We were sometimes ignored and looked at as if we could not be trusted. There was one time I was accused of not having a “real” id. I quickly learned about racial bias. These actions were very subtle but I understood at a young age that I was not always welcome
From the Gulf Coast to Maine.. we don’t feel safe
Though things are a lot better for many Black travelers since segregation was banned, there is still passive aggressive and overt racism that make us feel leary at times when we travel. About a month ago, I asked a group of Black travelers where they don’ t feel safe traveling. It ranged from the deep south of Mississippi and the Gulf Coast to Maine, Applachian Mountain areas, Greece, Italy, and places in Eastern Europe. This is based on their personal experience or the experience of other Black people. Because of this many things about my travels were planned in an effort to avoid issues.
And are we welcomed?
Based on my experiences and that of others that look like me, I am constantly thinking “what could happen” and how we can be prepared for my trip? Part of that preparation is to research our vacation spot on their tourism website. I look for restaurant recommendations, things to do, and festivals that may be taking place. I also look at the pictures on the site. Are there any people of color on the tourism board’s site? Before traveling to Newport Beach in January 2020, I did this same research. Unfortunately, I did not see any pictures of Black people. I was going to a conference so I knew I was going to be pretty busy. But what about my downtime? Would I feel welcomed? (By the way, I did and can’t wait to return!) If we decide to drive to our destination, we need to think about what route will we take and what time of day or night will we leave. Ever drive from the NY Metro area to the South? You most likely took I-95, spent about $20 in tolls, and faced bumper to bumper traffic prior to the Beltway. But there are other options. You can head west and catch I-81 to bypass tolls. There is also significantly less traffic. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Well, for me I need to make sure we drive the most rural parts of this route during daylight. We don’t want to run into a situation where we are in a rural area where there are no people of color and need to make a stop to eat, get gas, or use the restroom? We have done it before and it is an unsettling feeling. If we take this route we try to stop where there is an establishment known for promoting equality, such as Starbucks.
Does our skin color minimize our human right to life?
My husband and I remember the many Black men and women who were killed because of the color of their skin on the way to their destinations. The stories of Jonathan Ferrell, Philando Castile, and Sandra Bland will always stay at the forefront of my mind.
Can you support the Black Lives Matter movement?
Yes you can!!!
Here are some ways you can help!
- Be aware of your unconscious biases. We all have it, but to be aware of it. An example is when a Black person steps into an elevator and the White people noticeably start to clutch their items a little tighter. It is probably just pure habit, but it does not help race relations.
- Be supportive of your Black travel companions if they don’t want to visit an attraction or go to a place you may want to go to. Yes, times have changed but some wounds from our ancestors still run deep. You may not see a problem with visiting but it can sometimes be intimidating to visit a place that still has some of its historic values. For example, any place with a Confederate flag in their midst may not be a place we would want to visit.
- If you see anyone being mistreated for any reason, say something. In today’s society, we are always expecting someone else to be the hero. But it doesn’t take much. Call someone. Use your cell phone camera to put it out on social media. JUST DO SOMETHING. Silence is not an option.
I read an article about a Black woman’s experience in Italy where a man threw beer on her because of the color of her skin. No one, including her fellow white travelers, did anything. They were allowing her to be assaulted because of ignorance and racism.
- When you research your travel itinerary or are looking at brochures/ads while on your trip, do you see people of color in the materials? If not, question it. Is it an oversight? Or are black and brown people truly not welcomed?
- Look to see how Black people are treated during your travels. especially internationally. Bring the situation to the forefront by posting about it on social media.
- Add a stop to Black historic cultural sites while on your vacation. Check out these links for places to visit.