A college student from the UK interviewed me about the state of black travel for her thesis paper. This was about two years ago. I forgot all about the interview until I discovered it on my computer three weeks ago; When I read it over again, I thought to myself, “Wow! This was a really genuine, insightful and important interview. I actually sound smart. I should share it on my blog”
Et Voila! I hope you enjoy!
1. Which country are you from and what race do you identify with?
I am from the United States of America. I identify as African-American and Bajan-American since my mom is from Barbados.
2. How many continents have you visited?
Three: North America, South America and Europe.
3. Black people just don’t travel’- where did this stereotype come from and do you think it is changing?
I never really looked at the situation as a stereotype; I came to the conclusion a lot of black people don’t travel because I saw very few black people when I traveled and by the fascination on the faces of some of my black friends when I told them where I’ve traveled to. I think it is an American thing. I’ve read statistics that fewer Americans own a passport compared to citizens of other countries. However, I do agree that White-Americans travel more than Black-Americans. But yes, I do think this is changing because of all the black bloggers starting to come on the scene. Through their stories they are leading by example with a sort of “see you can do it to” feel to their blogs. And it’s inspiring a lot of black people to get on a plane.
4. n a 2007 report by the ministry of Culture, Media and Sport here in England, it was said that the main barriers to travel for ethnic minorities are due to lack of access, time and interest in tourism and leisure activities. Do you think agree with this statement? Are there any other barriers you would add?
I disagree somewhat, especially with the “lack of interest” bit. I think the number one reason— and I speak for blacks in America— is money and following closely behind that reason is fear. Everyone thinks you need to be rich to travel. And if you work a minimum wage job, it’s easy to feel discouraged. You think that travel is a luxury and that the bills and responsibility comes first. If you grow up in a single family household you see a lot of struggle. One parent working hard to put food on the table so the family can survive. Often time the young adults in such households have to get jobs early to help out, and in such a situation, travel is not encouraged—it’s a pipe dream, but I guarentee you those people going through the struggle daydream about what it would feel like to take a trip to Paris or London etc.. But it’s just not a reality for them, but it can be and that’s what a lot of black bloggers are illustrating. “The struggle” is not the story of every black person in America, but it is the story of many. As for fear, the fear is derived from the stigma of racism. History has shown how awful blacks were treated and we still carry that burden. We automatically think that if we go to a country with a nonexistent black population we will be treated horribly. We need to get out of that mindset.
5. Do you think that black people (particularly black women) are encouraged/ discouraged from travelling by their communities?
I do think it’s more discouraging than encouraging and again, it’s because of the “fear” mindset. But black blogs are the game changer in regards to more black woman being inspired to travel.
6. Research has shown that that the greatest difference in travel/leisure trends is between low class and middle class Black females, why do you think this is?
See answer number 4. :0)
7.Much of my research has also shown that a significant portion of black people prefer to travel in groups and to areas with fairly visible black presence, why do you think this is so?
I believe it’s because as a black person, you tend to feel more comfortable, but it depends on the situation. As for why that is, see the fear part of answer number 4. :0)
8. Would you say that those who prefer traveling alone do so to assert their independence?
It depends on the individual. For some this may be true. Sometimes you just need to set out in your own to learn who you really are. I experienced this when I traveled to Buenos Aires alone. but I also travel solo sometimes because I don’t have a choice. Either my friends don’t have the time or funds or it’s a place only I am interested in going. I do prefer to travel with someone, but no more than one or two people.
9. There’s a growing number of agents targeting Black people exclusively, what is steering their success?
I didn’t know agents were targeting black travelers. I would guess that affordable rates would be steering their success. Black people are interested in travel, they’re just looking for and need those deals.
10. Which would you say you get more attention for in Europe; your race or your nationality?
There is a large number of black people in Europe so I did not stick out as much. however, when I went to Stratford Upon Avon in England, I got more attention for my nationality than my race. In South America, I got loads of attention for my race, nationality and the city I was from, which is New York.
11. How do you feel you are perceived in Europe and is it the same in most European countries you’ve visited? Did this make you feel welcome/ unwelcome?
In Europe, I’ve been to Paris, England and Amsterdam. Paris was the most welcoming, but I didn’t feel unwelcome in any of the places.
12. How do you think Europe is perceived by Black people and what influences this perception? How far is their perception from the reality?
It depends on the person. A black person who has never traveled before will hear the word Europe and think fancy and glamorous—the media and Hollywood helps create these images—Which is not always true. Some parts are fancy, but there are other parts that are regular. I mean, there is a “hood” in many parts of Europe too. Lol! A well traveled black person knows the deal. I see Europe and its people as being more poetic in some ways. Even their outlook on life can be poetic.
13. Do you think there’s much of a difference between how Americans as a whole view Europe and how Blacks specifically view Europe?
Hmmm. Well, I think people who have never traveled before will view Europe the same regardless of race: classy, foreign, a fantasy, expensive and nice architecture. Lol!
14. Would you say your perception of Europe is different than that of your parents and Blacks of previous generations? If so how?
That’s a hard question. I truly don’t know. I think I may be in love with it more than my mom and dad. In fact, I know I’m in love with it more than my mom and dad, but that’s because Europe is a strong interest of mine. More specifically, I love Paris and French culture. And I think my love for the city is just as strong as James Baldwin or Josephine Baker’s was. Heck, their love for the city might have been stronger.
15. How were you received by other Blacks in Europe?
I didn’t really speak to the other black people in Europe. I was only there for a week, so I only saw them passing on the street. They seemed friendly enough. I would be able to answer that question better if I lived in Europe for a period of time.
16. Lastly why do you think Black people, particularly Black women should travel?
Black women should travel to dispel the many horrid stereotypes about us. we have to be our own ambassadors. We also need to travel to experience a different mind set than what we’re used to. I feel so beautiful when I travel because the locals always tell me so. Sometimes they’re fascinated by me and it’s a breath of fresh air. Sometimes I feel this fascination is missing in the states.