It’s Time To Change The Face of Travel.
Picture a backpacker trekking through Europe or hiking through the terrestrial landscape of Asia while discovering some new, profound enlightened way of viewing the world. If the first image that sprung to mind was a white man, you’re not alone. Likewise, you may have pictured a white woman, thanks to the recent boom of memoirs (cue Wild or Eat Pray Love) documenting the travels (or self-proclaimed spiritual quests) of upper middle class white women. Either way, the first image that pops into your head is likely not a black woman. And while black female underrepresentation in travel media isn’t the biggest issue our planet is currently facing, it’s an undeniably annoying one.
Travel is something that should be enjoyed by everyone and important to increase the invisibility of black female travellers, if we want more black women to begin to consider lives that involve travelling. I’ve lived in Nigeria, Australia and Canada and have travelled throughout other parts of North America. The experiences I’ve had and the people I’ve met have been invaluable. I believe I’m much wiser and happier and more open-minded now than I would have been if I hadn’t been exposed to so many different cultures at an early age. Travel is not just a luxury that rich people can afford—it’s a way of life that everybody ought to make time for.
Although more and more black travellers (such as Jessica Nabongo and Gloria Atanmo) are popping up and documenting their travels to Europe, Asia, Africa and North and South America, there is still a common narrative of what it means to travel and it rarely includes black women. Black women, however, have the power to change this. By making travel a priority and documenting our experiences, we have the opportunity to twist the narrative into one that favors and hones in on our experiences.
We Have A Right To Simply Live.
One of the reasons why black women don’t currently prioritize travel, is because we simply haven’t seen positive portrayals of black female travel. Thankfully, we now have platforms like Instagram that allow us access to the feeds of thousands of black women who are making a mark on this world through travel. Yet, I would still love to see black women prioritizing the priceless experience of travel in the same way we prioritize our careers, our education and our romantic relationships.
In fact, I’d be willing to bet that the lack of prioritization of travel among black women is due to our tendency to selflessly put our lives and desires on hold for the benefit of others. Many black women are still convinced that we ought to sacrifice our happiness and wellbeing, for our kids, spouses, friends, parents—even the stranger down the road. whoever else appears in our lives. Deep down, we’re not convinced of our right to truly and selfishly enjoy ourselves in life. We don’t have to be the nurturers and the caretakers…at least not all the time.
Increased Travel Will Force People To Confront Prejudiced Perceptions Of Us.
Quiet as it’s kept, prostitution is common in several European countries, including Spain, Portugal, Italy, The Czech Republic, Albania and more. A large majority of the population of prostitutes is made up of female African migrants or refugees. Unfortunately, most of them are extremely impoverished and forced into prostitution to make ends meet.
This is extremely disheartening and unfortunate, but it also affects the general reputation of black women in Europe. It is not uncommon for black female travellers in Europe and Asia to be mistaken for prostitutes and solicited for sex. Travelling more, however, will give us a chance to rewrite this narrative that has been assigned to us and change the idea that we are all hyper-sexual jezebels or impoverished prostitutes.
Grace is a freelance writer and blogger from Canada. Her work has been featured on HerCampus, 21Ninety, Read Unwritten. She is a voracious reader, a dog-lover and a self-professed pop culture junkie. Her other hobbies include watching sappy romantic comedies, consuming too many strawberry-filled doughnuts and people-watching. Grace currently attends university, where she is working towards a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Pre-Law.