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Race and racism is a reality that so many of us grow up learning to just deal with. But if we ever hope to move past it, it can’t just be on people of color to deal with it. It’s up to all of us — Black, white, everyone — no matter how well-meaning we think we might be, to do the honest, uncomfortable work of rooting it out. — Michelle ObamaNearly three months have passed since the death of George Floyd in police custody, a tragedy that has sparked a historic global civil rights movement to end systemic racism. While there are myriad ways to contribute to Black Lives Matter as an ally, below are highlighted just a few directly related to travel. As a white American, I am so grateful to the Black travelers and teachers who have imparted their wisdom and shared their stories with patience and generosity. Each has greatly enhanced my evolution as a human and a traveler. I’ve sought to include the most significant points here; I’ve surely missed others. Please do comment with edits and suggestions! I truly believe travel plays an important role in creating a more just world for all, so let’s jump in.
Being an ally does not start and stop during moments of convenience and inconvenience. Being an ally is a journey of commitment to understanding the dynamic realities marginalized people face while confronting the role the privileges you enjoy have played in creating those realities.As we recognize our privileges, think beyond skin tone as well. What doors have been opened — no questions asked — based on our passport, or socioeconomic status, or natural abilities? How can we best put those privileges to work? As allies, we will get it wrong sometimes, and that’s okay, as long as our intentions are pure and our minds are open.
In the spirit of Ubuntu, an African philosophy that hinges on our collective existence and compassion towards others, I invite you to come and discover Africa, one of the most majestic continents. I only ask that you come willing to see beyond the pyramids, the mountains, the rapturous waterfalls, and the often-oblivious cocoon of resorts. If you do this, you will leave with a richer understanding of humanity, and your state of equilibrium permanently offset — as it should be.A note on destinations: I’ve heard horror stories of Black travelers facing racism in a variety of countries, which led me to wonder whether certain places were more welcoming than others. During a recent webinar hosted by The Nomadic Network, I had an opportunity to ask two Black women about this, Gabby Beckford and Sojourner White. In a word: no. They stressed that travel is a personal experience, and a single interaction between two individuals should not be used to judge an entire nation. They were also quick to point out that within the Black community, members may be received differently depending on a multitude of factors, including skin tone, nationality, and language.
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