I will not deny that the black travel movement has made progress in leaps and bounds throughout recent years.
More and more black women are wising up to the fact that they do not necessarily have to stay put and are spreading their wings towards other destinations.
Though, I do wonder, how many more of us would be traveling if we saw ourselves being represented more often?Although Instagram and YouTube do not encompass the full extent of the black travel movement, I think it is safe to say that these social media platforms, and social media in general, play a large role in determining who is represented and who gets opportunities as a traveler and as an influencer.
In general, these platforms are not overflowing with black travelers as compared to other demographics, but within the groups of prominent black travelers that are on these platforms, it has come to my attention that many of them fit a certain mold and that deviation from that mold could result in less of a following and fewer opportunities.
Many travel influencers adhere to the same aesthetics of a slim/slim-thick body type (abs included) and long hair, whether a loosely-textured wig/weave or braids. There is nothing wrong with this aesthetic in and of itself, and certain hairstyles might be easier to manage while on vacation, but I think anything can be toxic if it is the only thing being promoted heavily and I have started to wonder if the black travel movement is inclusive enough.
Furthermore, I wonder if social media platforms are being oversaturated with the same type of travel. That is to say, are we seeing the exact same content repetitively in each person’s content?
Of course, social media platforms like Instagram are spaces based on aesthetics, therefore, everyone wants to look their best, but I fear we might be driving ourselves towards certain beauty standards instead of away from them (meaning we might be moving away from diversification of beauty).
Travel influencers with different body types, hairstyles and lengths, and modes of travel certainly exist, but it seems that they are either more difficult to find, or they do not seem to get the same amount of exposure and sponsorships as their white, light, slim, etc. counterparts, no matter if their content is just as good or better than the aforementioned groups.
It is nice to look at pretty pictures of black queens living their best lives on the beach and sitting by poolsides, but it gets tiring seeing these same people with the same floating breakfasts in Bali and the same elephants in Thailand. The thing is, I am not really judging them either because I know I would be documenting those experiences as well if I were in their shoes, and I understand that nothing is new under the sun, therefore, being "original" does not really exist.
I guess I just wish that the black travel movement was more varied and included things that do not typically get as much spotlight such as budget travel and more interactions with locals because these are the things that might not be shown or talked about even if they occurred.
Naná is a proud Brooklyn native and aspiring digital nomad. She enjoys travel, nature, and art. Her other hobbies include reading fantasy novels, binge-watching series on Netflix, and language-learning. Find her @blackbelletravels