The Black human experience has been gotten a lot of media attention recently because of the Black Lives Matter movement. However, it's a movement, not a moment.
As a founder member of the Black Travel Alliance, I believe in the amplification of Black narratives in all areas, including the travel space.
Table of Contents
- Devote time & money to places that value diversity and inclusivity.
- Learn about Black history wherever you go.
- Speak up against racism, whether a Black person is in the room or not.
- Go out of your way to be kind to Black travelers. Enough people go out of their way to be unkind.
- Support Black-owned businesses.
Devote time & money to places that value diversity and inclusivity.
If you're at a hotel and the clientele is completely white, likely, the establishment does not do much to attract a diverse range of clients. It can be determined by their marketing campaigns, customer service, and even their services.
Consider giving your tourism dollars to brands and companies that truly value diversity and inclusion in their clientele.
For example, Giraffe Manor in Nairobi, Kenya is currently taking heat on Twitter for announcing that they “are open to local Kenyans”.
Some Kenyans have taken offense to this and believe that they only made the statement because the coronavirus has halted much international tourism to the country. This caused their business to struggle.
When Giraffe Manor announces that they are “Now Open to Kenyans”, that isn't a reason to celebrate
They are in Kenya
They have survived by discriminatory practices against locals(black people broadly by extension)and are only welcoming us because the dollars aren't flowing in pic.twitter.com/9eN4UiuUtS
— mwanaume.com (@MarigaThoithi) June 7, 2020
You would think that African tours and hospitality would serve their local population the most.
However, centuries of colonialism and wealthy foreign tourists have caused some businesses to become white-centric in their clientele. Comments in the threads show Kenyans suggesting tourists visit other lodges with similar wildlife interactions to demonstrate solidarity.
Learn about Black history wherever you go.
Another important step for allies to take is to make learning about Black history in the destinations they visit a priority. What you'll find—especially in America's—is that many destinations have darker histories than you would think.
Whether involving the Transatlantic Slave Trade, slavery, murder of indigenous people, internment camps, or other horrors of colonialization, there is a deeper history that can be learned.
Consider the things that you may find simple and enjoyable might have been built on Black trauma. By actively seeking the truth when traveling, every ally to Black travelers can keep that mindset in perspective to make more informed decisions.
Diversity in Travel Expert and Black Travel Expert, Martinique Lewis has great, actionable steps that any travelers and travel brands can use that highlights the Black history and displays allyship.
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Speak up against racism, whether a Black person is in the room or not.
An immeasurable tool to some allies is the ability to use one's privilege to defend Black people in occurrences of racism or at least deescalate the situation. When traveling in a foreign country, Black people can be at a much higher risk. So, if you see an act of discrimination or racism taking place, take appropriate measures to get involved.
This doesn’t mean that you have to put yourself in harm’s way, but it does a great deal to show people that you notice and care. Watching over the situation or recording it on your phone are great methods to help without getting directly involved in dangerous situations.
Often in these racist scenarios, Black people feel cornered, so there is strength in numbers when racists see non-Black people siding with the Black Traveler.
Also, it goes a long way to approach the victim afterward to offer any help. After the awful experience, allies can make sure the Black Traveler is feeling alright mentally.
Racism in any scenario is traumatic and can affect a person’s psyche for a long time, and at the least could ruin their trip. Trying to help them stabilize their emotions after an incident can have long-term effects on their psyche.
Go out of your way to be kind to Black travelers. Enough people go out of their way to be unkind.
As a Black traveler, and especially as a Black solo-female traveler, there are times abroad I have had to take extra measures for my safety than others. A simple Google search will expose you to stories of Black travelers in Italy assumed to be prostitutes.
In Asia, they're being gawked at, refused service, or otherwise discriminated against. It is not a stretch to assume that a Black traveler would have their defenses up.
Despite that, a true ally should extend help regardless.
If you see a Black traveler on their own at a bar, offer them company. If you see a Black traveler at a hostel alone or a street corner looking lost, go out of your way to show kindness to them especially.
Like any other human, some will appreciate it and some won't. That’s okay because being an ally to Black people isn’t about receiving gratitude, it’s about living by a moral compass.
Support Black-owned businesses.
And finally, the most direct way to be an ally to Black people when traveling is to directly support their businesses. By putting money towards Black-owned businesses, you help them grow more successfully.
This allows them to flourish and become an established pillar of the community with longevity. Small efforts like seeking out Black-owned history tours, staying at Black-owned accommodations, and eating at Black-owned restaurants make a huge difference!
And when you do buy their products or services and have a positive experience, take the time to leave a review! Especially in tourist destinations, online reviews can make or break a business.
These actions alone are not enough to offset the trauma that Black people and Black travelers have to overcome every day. However, these actions and more when done over a long time represent a true ally dedicated to building a more fair and inclusive world.
Can you think of more ways to display allyship when traveling? The list can keep going, comment and share resources below!