Black Beyond Borders
“It’s better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times.”
“Travel is the one thing you can buy that makes you richer.”
“You don’t see the most beautiful things in the world. You feel them.”
The Internet of today’s world is filled with inspirational quotes and photographs and blogs that leave it’s viewers wanting to travel the world and experience all that it has to offer. However, unfortunately for many Americans, specifically African American youth, travelling outside of the country is not as easy as it looks on social media. The desire to travel can be deemed unfeasible, and soon pushed aside to be replaced by present responsibilities and obligations, whether it be a work schedule, school, paying rent, providing for a family, etc. Traveling is indeed a big commitment, financially, mentally, physically, etc. — and it can be very draining. What all of those Instagram photos do not show to the public is the amount of money that each traveller has to budget out beforehand. What all of those photos do not show is the perhaps months of delicate planning that go into creating itineraries, ensuring that cellphone service and internet is accessible, or arranging housing for the duration of the trip. What all of those photos do not show is the prejudice and racism that an African American traveler may cross paths with in certain countries and cities. There are several reasons why many choose not to travel, many of which I will cover in this blog. However, there are also many benefits to our African American youth traveling the world, experiencing different cultures and histories, of which I believe outweigh the obstacles. I want to paint a complete and true picture what the experiences are, how they differ, travelling as an African American, and being black beyond our borders.
Why do I care if African American youth travel or not, you ask? I dream of traveling all over the world one day. It is my passion; it is what I enjoy thinking of in my free time. Last summer, I was given the opportunity to study abroad in Rio de Janeiro and Salvador, Brazil. I took it, no questions asked. This was my first time traveling outside of the country, and it was without a doubt the best period of time in my life. Academically, International Relations is my passion first; my major second. I have been trained to look at everything on a global scale, and have never found the importance of African American youth to travel more prevalent than it is right now in 2016. I also wish to urge African American youth to travel due to my previous work experiences. In the summer of 2015, I interned in the Talent & Casting department at a major network. Over the course of the three months that I was there, one of my responsibilities was to screen pilots being proposed for new TV series’. The most memorable pilot that I came across was submitted by TravelNoire, a relatively new company which promotes travel among African American youth, and does so by running youth programs/excursions/trips, and providing scholarship funds for those in need of financial assistance while travelling. Viewing this pilot made me realize my own passion for promoting travel among African American youth, and from that day on I have made it my mission. I also interned this past summer at the Olympic Bid Committee for the 2024 Olympic Games, where I was able to work with representatives from countries of the International Olympic Committee and members of the competing bid committees. Being a part of this stage in the bid process was an extremely unique experience, and being forced to look at and compare with our competing cities (Paris, Rome and Budapest) in a whole new light further stemmed in me the desire to travel the world. There is so much out there to witness and absorb; to learn and grow from. Hence, with all of the information that I have gathered, whether it be through my own experiences, reading articles, blogs, liking pictures on Instagram, hearing stories of the well traveled, watching informative videos, I am certain that I am not the only one.
As a 21 year-old African American woman from Los Angeles, I have had peers from extremely different backgrounds, whether they grew up in Compton, The Valley, or Beverly Hills. Amongst my peers, I have come across young, black men and women who have never left the city of LA and have no desire to ever do so, to those who have never left the city of LA but one day dream of doing so and never coming back. I have come across young, black men and women who have traveled to very few places but emerged themselves in the culture of the land, to those who are extremely well-travelled but only seeing so much as the tourist attractions and the culture of the hotel in which they slept at night. Our African American youth seem to be living life as if we have all of the time in the world to live life later; as if we do not see the value of the moments of opportunity that lie before us now. Through this blog, I wish to bring light to my peers. I wish to not only inspire like the photos of Instagram and the quotes of Pinterest, but I also wish to inform.