Beyonder is Addressing Discrimination in Travel

Black people are still treated differently domestically and abroad

While I’ve been wrapping up the program in the past couple of weeks, I realized that I hadn’t directly addressed the discrimination problem travelers like me face. But all along Beyonder’s service does actually help alleviate some of the stress and anxiety many of us have when we go places.

Remember when Airbnb’s discrimination issues blew up? Rohan the co-founder and inspiration for Innclusive, experienced a cancelation based on what he believes was his race. So he and Zakiyyah founded Innclusive because of the Airbnb’s lax handling of discrimination issues prevalent among many travelers of color. In fact, I experienced some discrimination of my own on Airbnb’s platform.

And when I looked into it more, so many African American travelers are affected by their ethnic background, skin color and hair texture when they travel. Some people say they’re stared out awkwardly, followed, taken pictures of, refused service, called names and more. I hadn’t really registered this as part of my travel experience before (simply because it’s just a part of my everyday life as a Black woman). But it is.

The issues are so prominent among Black travelers that we are going within our communities (Nomadness Travel Tribe for example) for survival tips, looking for Black-friendly destinations, asking about what type of discrimination to expect and more.

What ‘main-stream’ travel service provides that kind of information for us? I suppose that is the beauty of being niche.

Through Beyonder, we are creating safe spaces and experiences that allow Black travelers to move about the world with a little more ease and less anxiety, at least during the experiences we curate. We want to experience the world and all of its beauty and not have to always worry about whether or not our Afro’s will be inappropriately groped or if someone is going to take a photo of us because we look like a caricature or get cursed out in a different language because the locals are disgusted with the entire Black population.

Our Logo! by WillEllis

Beyonder has launched its first itinerary, a half-day experience that includes a beautiful yoga session with a curvaceous Black yogi who is nothing like the typical yoga instructor. Then travelers walk a few blocks to a local juice bar where they will enjoy a ginger beer tasting and chat with a woman who has been healing and helping locals through natural foods and juices. They’ll end their journey at a local urban farm where otherwise disenfranchised residents are empowered through agriculture. These and other immersive experiences are the kinds I want to curate for other Black travelers.

It’s about connecting Black travelers with local Black communities, services, business owners and practitioners to create a safe, Black-friendly travel experience.

Beyonder wants to be that local friend, the go to resource and platform that helps Black travelers connect with local Black communities in the new cities they visit. We want to make it easier for travelers to discover those cute, hole in the wall spots only the locals know about or those fun cultural events and gatherings Black travelers want to experience.

What’s next?

Now that the program is over and my family is dispersing back to various countries, working on projects to change the world, I and a few other cohorts will be committing the summer to building our projects and crying about how we miss the rest of our family.

Other steps for Beyonder, we are launching three new itineraries every quarter, currently planning the first of our quarterly events beginning this summer, we’re working on building an advisory board and plan to solidify some partnerships. It’s my dream to build some key partnerships with brands like ZNews Africa and Innclusive. I’m committing myself to this project and can see a profitable future not only financially, but also in impact.

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A quick note about the family I built at CUNY

Like I mentioned, this is the end of the program, and now I have to spread my little baby entrepreneurial wings to push my project forward. While this program has been primarily about learning ways to launch businesses, some of the most important learning moments have been with my cohort of 15 other beautiful, multi-talented and insightful people from all over the world.

For four months, we’ve been learning, growing and sharing with each other, giving each other feedback and simply being vulnerable, learning how to shed our fears, anxieties to give the world our new products. Truthfully, being with these people has really strengthened me in a ways I hadn’t realized I was weak. They helped me understand the world better, they helped me build confidence in myself, they helped purge some barriers. They are lifelong friends. Kisses to them! Ok, I am going to cry now. That’s enough of that emo stuff. #EJ17.