I walked into the hotel bar and I could immediately tell that the group was scattered all around the lobby. A woman walked up to me with a radiant smile. "Hi!" she said.
"Hi." I replied. "I'm here for the Girls Gone International meetup group? I've never done this before so I'm not really sure what to do."
"Oh sure!" she said. "Most girls just grab a drink and then sit with another group of girls and start chatting!"
"Okay." I said. I walked up to a group that seemed diverse. We all started sharing where we were from. There was another black girl in the group and I assumed she would say she was from some exotic or interesting place like like London or Barbados.
"I'm from America." she said.
"Wait what!" I was probably a little too loud. "I'm sorry, I've just never met another black girl from the U.S. in Edinburgh." I told her.
Dear Fellow Minorities,
When you get the chance, travel.
In the past year I have had the privilege to travel to Europe four times and there's is always one thing that has stood out to me. I rarely ever run into any Black, Latino, (or Afro-Latinos, like me), or basically any other minorities from the U.S. traveling for leisure outside the country. In fact, I don't run into people like me much at all. I rarely run into anyone of my color and when I run into people who speak Spanish they're always from Spain. I have no trouble finding another white American but hardly ever any minorities.
I can understand some reasons why maybe us minorities might not travel far. For one, I believe there is still a structure of systematic racism in our country. We're constantly seeing examples of obvious injustice. We have to fight to create financial stability in our lives. The representation of Blacks and Latinos in Western media and in art is so small and stagnant and I can still sit in a classroom at my University and have not one other minority in the room with me. Further, it can be scary traveling to a place not being sure whether you may face similar prejudices. I remember my first time coming to Scotland. Before I left I googled "Are Scottish people racist?" It is entirely difficult to overcome some of the obstacles set up for minorities and first generation Americans and just travel. However, I think if we have a chance to, we should.
Traveling helps you see that a person is a person whether they be in London, Manchester, or Paris. Traveling gives you insight on yourself. It gives you experiences that will make you a better person, and I think that we minorities should give ourselves that chance to understand the world around us. How much more could we change the world for good if we understood it better?
It's difficult, yes. However, I don't think it's impossible. My mother, a Honduran immigrant, had me at 16. My biological father struggled with the legal system. I was raised in the projects in a really dangerous part of New York. Sometimes I wonder how I even came to do some of the things I do. So yes, I know it's hard. That's why I won't say you need to travel, or ignore the fact that our society often sees us as second-class citizens and just book that trip to Rome.
All I'm saying is when you get a chance, travel. I believe it's something you won't regret.