With the recent verdict regarding the Michael Brown case in Ferguson, Missouri, it came to mind to publish this post sooner than I anticipated. As much as I have traveled the world, I have yet to experience and see the type of hate, fear, and racism against American Black and Brown people as I have in the United States.
My sole objective to RachelTravels.com is to encourage people of all types, but specifically, those who look like me in America, to travel far and wide. Historically, while the lives of Black and Brown people in the United States does not seem valued here, the same is not true once you venture out and travel. I hope this post inspires someone to travel and #DismantleFear worldwide. Give others a chance to know and embrace you.
So, family, I beg you, open your hearts and travel far and wide.
I had the pleasure of engaging a very open, honest, and in-depth conversation with a guy I met named Tobias in Yangon, Myanmar (Burma).
As we were enjoying a light conversation over tea in our hostel, he respectfully asked, “Do you mind if I ask you a personal question? What has your experience been like traveling as a Black woman?”
Rather than being taken aback or offended, I welcomed the question and conversation.
We discussed stereotypes, experiences, perceptions, and possible solutions. He wanted to understand why he saw so very few Americans on his travels, and more specifically an even smaller number Black and Brown Americans. As a fellow American himself, he understands the history and current challenges that Black and Brown’s people face in our beloved country. As Tobias exclaimed, he had been traveling for nearly 12 months, and I was maybe the second or third Black American he’d met.
So why is there such a huge gap?
There are many theories of course, but I have narrowed it down to three personal perspectives:
1) Time: The United States has a strong working culture. To work 50-60 hours a week (if not more) is utterly typical. Not to mention only two to three weeks (if you’re lucky) vacation a year; couple that with factors including little to no health insurance, student loan payments, and other crap – maxing out two weeks of vacation (which may even include sick days) a year, one may opt to stay domestic vs. lying on a beach in the Philippines.
2) The Pursuit of Things vs. Experiences: I say this quite often when I am asked, “How do you afford to travel so much?!”
That question is easy to answer – Priorities.
Now, I love a nice quality item like an expensive pair of shoes or a beautiful bag, but if given a choice, I will choose a trip over a bag any day! If you have five pairs of $200 Jordans, aspire to travel, yet do not own a passport, reevaluate that picture.
As a community, Blacks in America have $1B+ in spending power! So the buying power is there, yet and still, culturally we are more consumed with labels and materials, than passport stamps and cultural experiences.
From my personal observation, we value materials over experiences. I believe you can aspire to have both, but as the quote goes, “travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.”
3) FEAR: I doubt many will admit to this, but folks are afraid to travel abroad! Yes, there is the fear of being in an unknown place, getting robbed, or sold into sex trafficking *rolls eyes*, but greater than this, people are just terrified. Perhaps it is fear of the unknown, fear of not being accepted, being outside of your comfort zone – the list goes on. I have even seen polls where people are nervous about traveling for fear of losing their passports ( I assure you, that’s the least of your worries)!
Let’s have an open discussion about this…
Why don’t Black and Brown Americans travel as much or as often as our White brothers and sisters?
I am all ears.
* This post is dedicated to Tobias. I did not get his contact information but would like to thank him for being so open and genuine, and inspiring me to write this post. I hope this post inspires someone to travel and #DismantleFear worldwide.*