I want to express that my experiences shouldn’t be symbolic of the entire demographic of black women, but that as a black woman, these are various things I’ve experienced, noticed, and would like to bring attention to by sharing my experiences and what I’ve learned. Please note: I am not an expert, but I learned the ways by self- teaching.
I WANT TO BE VERY FRANK: I’M DISAPPOINTED THAT IN 2020, THIS TOPIC IS STILL RELEVANT. It’s a shame to see that women of color like myself aren’t traveling more often, so much so that when looking at the landscape of travel bloggers and bloggers, I’m one of a handful. That being said: traveling is a privilege, one that women of colour often do not always have.
1. We Barley Exist
I am not kidding, going through my travels there was always excitement when I saw another female black traveller. Especially, one that is back-packing. Of course, there are black women traveling the world every single day, but the ratio to everyone else traveling is minuscule.
2. We Experience More than Cat-Calling.
Of course, all women have to deal with the annoying and entitled action of rude men catcalling as we casually walk around, even in our own cities. There is so many videos of men harassing women as women are simply walking or minding their own business.
Often times, on trips fellow Black travellers had told me experiences of being cat-called and men blowing loud kisses or getting extremely touchy. However, this kind of treatment isn’t only limited to foreign travel but also extends to our Home countries.
I once read “There’s a sense of respect that white women receive without knowing it” which is very much true for travelling women of colour. That being said: Black female travels have far more anxieties than the average cat-calling.
3. We surprise people.
Because of all of these preconceived notions about black women/people around the world, when we travel, we’re helping soothe the worlds’ ignorance about us. The more we become present in the travel space, the more we’ll change “ugly black women” stereotypes. I’ve had several conversations with men and women who are genuinely surprised at my ability to not only travel but to step into countries where Black people are not often seen. Now, this is not easy but I truly believe inserting ourselves in places where we have not been seen before can allow for exposure and representation.
4. We carry more weight than the average traveler.
This is just a fact, because there are so few of us out there traveling, when we come back from a life-changing trip, we swallow the moral duty to share our experience with the world, and more importantly, to other black women. Whether I’ve come back with stories of racism, praise, ignorance, or friendships in uncommon places, I always want to share my journey. As it’s in most women’s nature to help causes, and people, I feel personally responsible to bring up our kind.
I started this blog with the hopes of encouraging others to travel and learn what this beautiful world has to offer.
As a travel blogger, I feel this burden more with each new subscriber or reader. We carry the weight and responsibility of speaking on behalf of our entire kind. But let me correct myself, this is defiantly not a burden because I love writing about my experiences with you all.
5. We are seen as ugly in most countries.
Despite the high level of harassment we receive, we’re not seen as beautiful by most of the world, mostly because societies simply aren’t used to our thick hair, brown skin, and curvy bodies. The stereotypes that societies hold on to about black women never have the words: beautiful, graceful, or intelligent, attached; something that I’ve learned through microagressions.
Now: among my travels I have only received one comment which made me feel uncomfortable however, I’ve heard this statement a lot in my home country of Canada. I was traveling between countries one time and at the border the Agent advised “Wow you’re gorgeous for a Black women”. Now… I did not like that, but this statement wasn’t surprising to me because of the normative storylines society has created about Black women/People. That being said: I smiled and proceeded to walk away, I think if I wasn’t in a foreign country I would of directed that. But these are comments that Black women are often faced with. Indicating that Black women are commonly ‘ugly’ which also aligns with comments “You cant be full Black”. These microagressions Black women carry through travels and their daily lives.
6. We’re Scared
To up and travel is just not a luxury: We have so many things to think about. Such as: Are they praised in Cuba? Are they honoured in Portugal? Are they shunned in Denmark? Can we go to Germany? We have questions on what being a black woman means globally and we empathize with our sisters.
7. We’re Role Models
Breaking stereotypes and stepping outside our comfort zone. We ultimately become role models and story-tellers for fellow black female travellers. We inspire others to step outside their comfort zone and experience this beautiful world. It’s about changing the reputation of black women everywhere
8. We Can Do it
Despite, the barriers we CAN DO IT. We can travel, we can backpack, we can create communities, we can build friendships and most importantly we can be unapologetically beautiful and free.