Black Americans are at the forefront of a growing travel movement -- one that includes an extensive network of globetrotters, a knack for finding the best flight deals and some serious online momentum.
With groups like the 9,000-member-strong Nomadness Travel Tribe monitoring fare glitches and distributing deals via WhatsApp, more and more African Americans are tapping into the world of travel -- and helping others do the same. The online community, which is "shattering the myth that people of color don't travel," has planned trips and meet ups all over the world. In fact, The Daily Beast reports Nomadness members have booked “over 400 flights to the Middle East, Asia and Africa for leisure travel in 2015 over the past two months alone.”
While stereotypes presuppose that blacks only gravitate to areas like Miami and the Caribbean, the growing travel movement is kicking those assumptions to the curb. Websites like Travel Noire showcase black travelers as they explore Morocco, Singapore and other areas off the beaten path. The movement has also been echoed via social media platforms, like Instagram, founder of Travelista TV Teri Johnson said on Tuesday.
“People need to understand the power of us being in control of our own images and our own videos,” she told HuffPost Live host Marc Lamont Hill. “And we have so much spending power to come to all of these different destinations and tell our own stories. Now, more than ever, we need really positive images of people with this skin color in mass media.”
Although research shows 17 percent of black Americans take at least one international trip per year, black travelers are often left out of travel campaigns and advertisements, said Zim Ugochukwu, CEO of Travel Noire.
“I didn’t see people like me in ads for Greece or Iceland or in Paris,” she added.
Travel can be an eye-opening experience, especially for black Americans headed abroad to areas without substantial black populations, Ugochukwu explained.
“If I’m going to China, for instance and a little kid comes up to me and rubs my hand because he’s confused as to why there’s not white skin underneath and thinks that it’s dirt,” she said. “Or whether I’m in India and people can’t keep their hands out of my hair. Or whether I went in [a store] looking for face wash and somebody handed me skin whitening cream. So those are the things that really do differentiate the experience.”
Evita Robinson, creator of Nomadness Travel Tribe, isn’t a stranger to being part of an exclusively small group of black travelers in an exotic location. “I love when I create Nomadness trips with my team and we show up someplace and we’re like the only black people there,” she said. “I love it because to me, it’s like, let us be that vehicle. … It’s sad, but we have to take the reins and kind of create our own platforms and push the truth of the agenda.”
When it comes for making the difficult decision of where to go, the HuffPost Live panelists suggested everywhere from Bali to Equatorial Guinea to India. But Robinson said that visiting South Africa would be a particularly unique experience for black travelers.
“Get to the motherland. Get on South Africa and enjoy it. Go to Johannesburg and Cape Town,” she said. “There’s nothing like going to a place where the color of your skin is not a hindrance, but it’s actually an acceptance. When you get off that plane, their greeting is ‘welcome home,’ and nothing beats that.”
Watch the full HuffPost Live conversation about the budding black travel movement here.
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