If one would do an internet search with the keywords “black travel”, a whole world of travel images from the eyes and lenses of melanin rich brothers and sisters is unleashed. This I have found to be super inspiring. The digital age has unleashed so much hunger amongst black people to see and experience the world. Flashback to a decade or two ago, stepping outside of one’s country would have been but a dream and seemed quite unattainable due to lack of knowledge and know-how (which could also be associated with the oppression of black people world-wide).
Stats show that black travel has increased by 19% over the last 3 years. I am personally proud to be counted amongst those.
I recently came across an Instagram page that inspired me called Black Girls Travel Too (@BlackGirlsTravelToo) and they are a global travel community that create tools, tips, and self empowering trips for women travelers.
This inspired a new conversation.
Let’s for a few minutes set aside this idea of a female traveller being one that is donned in LV and Gucci with a ‘Blesser’ waiting in Dubai… we’re talking time out in Barbados immersed in th culture with our girl friends, experiencing the world and being inspired to think broader about the world we live in.
Travelling for me has given me a sense of overcoming and thinking bigger. It immediately awakens you to the thought of how small you are in the larger scope of things and that your mind needs to be equally and broad in thoughts and ideas.
I was intrigued by the ever increasing stats of black people traveling. Though still small, they are growing and we are learning new avenues and ways to travel on a budget.
So I dropped Danny Rivers Mitchell (Founder of Black Girls Travel Too) an email, and tried to convince her to chat to me (all the way from the USA) about her about this community. I was so excited when she was so willing to open up and delighted to share with me why she started Black Girls Travel Too – from her own experiences as a young girl to now running this community of female travelers from all around the world that share experiences of different cultures, adventures, and wanderlust. Women from small towns to large metropolitan areas who are striving to spread a sense of possibility while expanding their world views.
What motivated you to start ‘Black Girls Travel Too’?
As a child growing up in an underserved community, where the only examples of what my life would be like was the system. The system in which, sucks generations after generations of black families into it’s cobweb with no interest in propelling them forward in life, but stunting their growth mentally, socially, and of course economically. Living in such a place not have been exposed to anything different, left me at the time as just existing. No motivation, no desires, and no goals. It was my 7th grade year a woman, an angel came to my school as a counselor. Mrs. Ludgood, presented a trip to Washington D.C. for inner city middle and high school students. Initially I wasn’t interested in going, until my cousin in law shared interest. After several attempts of talking my mother into letting me go, she finally said yes. I remember taking a window seat for the 16 hour drive from Mobile, Alabama to D.C. It was like I was watching a black and white movie slowing transitioning to colour. My mind was open and I was in the midst of being exposed to something different, something new, something possible for me as a young black girl.
“Because of travel I was able to escape the system.”
This opportunity allowed me to carry 3 vivid experiences with me still to day. While visiting the Arlington Memorial Cemetery I admired the attention of manicured grass that surround the base of each white tomb stone. To me it signified a level of respect to the soldiers that fought so bravely for America’s freedom, not knowing at that moment that one day I would do the same. Climbing over 50 plus steps, I stood before a statue of a man that is widely known as President Lincoln, the man who freed slaves. Whether he did that as a political move or not he was solely responsible for my ancestors freedom, my freedom. While it seem like everyone was intrigued with the 2nd inaugural address writings on the wall, I was fixated on how huge the Lincoln statue was. It was breathtaking and the physical size of the monument exuded what was possibility. I had never seen anything like it. Instantly I was hooked. It was only a glimpse, but that was enough to know that I too could create a better life for myself. I saw people who looked like me in nice cars, walking out of nice restaurants and interacted with people that didn’t look like them. I saw hope, I saw prosperity, I saw me. Because of this travel, my view on life changed. I can honestly say that I attribute travel to saving my life. I owe everything to travel. Because of travel I met my husband of almost 20 years and counting. Because of travel I have two amazing children. Because of travel I was able to escape the system.
What is your contribution to these growing black travel statistics?
The system that is known for sucking generations after generations of black families into it’s cobweb with no interest in propelling them forward in life, but stunting their growth mentally, socially, and of course economically.
I created Black Girls Travel Too, as a statement to black women. Often times we give experiences to a particular race and count ourselves out on a life changing opportunity. I created Black Girls Travel Too as an example of what’s truly possible for women of color. It’s not all just about travel, it’s more so about who you become in the midst of traveling.
Social Media has not only given a powerful voice to people of color, but has also allowed us to document our black brilliance, magic, and possibilities at an alarming rate. Social Media gives us a cultural opportunity to recreate a new Black Experience, by us and not what is constantly shared on the 5 o’clock news. From seeing black college students graduating, to black doctors, lawyers, professors, entrepreneurs, travelers, and the list goes on and on via Facebook and Instagram. Because of Black Girls Travel Too strong presence on these platforms, we have open up dialogue around the word “Travel”. 5 plus years ago, the average black person would not view travel as attainable, let alone have a conversation about it. With Black Girls Travel Too social presence, we have inspired 50,000 and counting women to travel the world. With our desire to support our audience, as of last year we launched our first “SOLD OUT” signature trip to Barbados. We will visit London this November and are currently working on trips for 2017, 2018, and 2019. What is the future of travel amongst the black community?
There has been a gradual shift amongst the black community. We desire to create new experiences versus spending our money on items that we view no longer hold value. With an increase in income, education and visual presence of what’s truly possible for the black community, I predict travel will increase substantially over the next couple of years.
I am very inspired by Danny and I hope to soon be one of the ladies on the next trip – experiencing the world with fellow sisters and just sharing views!
Ladies, let’s go fill up the passports!
Here’s a link to Black Girls Travel Too: