Should Black Americans Travel To Africa?
Is it mandatory for black travelers to visit the motherland?
If you’re an avid user of social media and been keeping up with trends in the black community in the US and Canada, you will notice the rising movement of black [North] Americans globetrotting around the world. I am a member of many predominantly black travel groups of Facebook, and I often observe many recurring discussion topics. One of the most popular topics is about the continent of Africa.
The history of blacks in the diaspora is complex. Thanks to the Atlantic slave trade, our African identity has been stripped from us.The eurocentric society that we currently lived has caused many of us to value their standards over ours, and the misrepresentation in the media have given blacks in both the US and Africa a negative stigma.
We live in the time where more blacks are becoming more prideful in their blackness again. Many people have taken the leap across the ocean to visit one of the many beautiful nations in Africa. Since it seems like more people in the travel community are traveling to every place but the continent of their ancestors, a recurring thread has been a hot topic in travel groups: “How come black Americans want to visit Europe and Asia but not Africa?” Some responses typically result in calling these people “self-hating,” “coons,” “mentally asleep,” etc for traveling to London to Paris before traveling to Accra and Dakar. Let’s jump into some reasons as to why people shy away from visiting Africa.
1.The Cost (Visible & Hidden)
Flying to Africa is not cheap at all. I think the cheapest round trip ticket I’ve ever seen is $850 out of JFK in New York. In general, most roundtrip tickets are between $900 and 1,200 plus. Imagine how much it will cost for an average family of four to travel there? Unlike Europe and Asia, finding finding a super cheap flight deal to Africa is like finding the needle in a haystack (i.e. they’re rare). Having a US passport gives us the privilege of traveling to over 100 countries visa free. Most of the countries that require a visa application are in Africa (coincidence, or nah?), which come with additional fees and planning. Certain countries also require visitors to be vaccinated in order to prevent themselves from life-threatening diseases. Depending on the type of medical insurance you have, that could be another large expense, and you haven’t even left the country yet. These costs alone put a gigantic dent in a budget traveler’s pockets. For those looking to spend some time on the continent long term and see neighboring countries, in some places, they will not have the luxury of pinching pennies by traveling to neighboring countries via bus or train. I don’t say this to scare people, but to show people what it may entail since western travelers are use to cheap flights, good infrastructure and easy visa free travel.
In general, most American travelers aren’t trotting around the globe. Most people would rather go to Mexico or the Caribbean for vacation because it doesn’t take that long to get there (Plus there’s plenty of melanin-rich people there). Most Americans have minimal vacation time compared to their European counterparts. Since convenience is key in this country, it’s easier for people to fly 2–3 hours instead of flying 15+ hours with multiple layovers in order to see a beautiful country.
Fear is another huge reason. People fear what they don’t know. Far far away lands usually falls in this category (shoot, there’s Americans who fear certain cities within the country). Africa as a whole is full of negative stigmas thanks to western media. While African countries do have problems with disease, poverty, corruption and violence, it definitely doesn’t apply every ounce of land on the continent, just like majority of the gun violence in the US only falls within certain neighborhoods of cities; not the whole country. I feel like a lot of the negative stigmas are being debunked more and more these days compared to my childhood now that we can showcase what we do on social media. The pioneers who have already traveled to the continent have used their platform to showcase the diverse beauty across Africa.
Do I Think All Black Americans Should Travel To Africa At Least Once?
Short answer: Yes….and No.
Long answer: I think people should travel to wherever their heart desires. While it may seem like everyone is traveling on Instagram, there are still many [black] people who’ve never left the country, let alone their home state. Whether it’s big or small, I’m happy to see people step outside of their comfort zones and explore places they’ve never step foot on whether it’s New York, Toronto, Cancun, Rio de Janeiro, London, Nairobi, Dubai, Bangkok or Sydney. I would rather celebrate that than police how other people spend THEIR hard-earned money. If African nations aren’t on their bucket list, then to each his/her own.
Are There Black Americans That Are Anti-Africa Because of Western Propaganda?
Absolutely, however coming at them condescendingly and calling them “coons” or “mentally enslaved” isn’t going to make them any more interested in Africa now that you’ve insulted them. Going to Africa doesn’t make you more “woke” than people who haven’t. It’s not a competition. There’s even division within the group of people who have traveled to the continent. Some people say North Africa isn’t the “real Africa” because it’s not predominantly black [anymore]. Some think they’re special and better than everyone else because they went to an African country that no one [they know] travels to. Why is this even a thing? I love the travel community, but I have to admit, a lot of people are really full of it. Everyone moves at their own pace. I know people who have visited the continent who once upon a time fell victim to believe the negative propaganda pumped through our television networks. Instead of belittling others for not going, talk about your experiences instead. Share your pictures on social media. Write a blog post about it your travels and what you’ve learned. There have been so many countries around the world that I’ve never really considered traveling to until I read about them on the internet. Now, they’re on my bucket list. If people aren’t interested after that, don’t waste your energy; let them go.
What’re your thoughts?