I’ve been in Addis for about 6 weeks now, and despite a slightly challenging first month, I can now say that I am adjusting pretty well to life in the city! I went from feeling like I had all the time in the world to explore Addis, to feeling as though time is literally slipping through my hands. There is still so much work to do, and there’s plenty more to see. Travel plans are being made and final projects are coming together. July has already been an eventful month and it shows no sign of slowing down. I look forward to it though, I’m so ready to get my #blackgirlstraveltoo on!
Being able to make all of these travel plans has made me acutely aware of my privilege and of the fact that I am in a somewhat unique position as a Black woman who gets to do so. I love all the travel movements that have sprung up on social media recently like Travel Noire and the previously mentioned, Black Girls Travel Too accounts. It’s great that people of color have a platform to see others that look just like them traveling and seeing the world for themselves. I understand the importance of such sites, and I appreciate them. However, I am still discontented with the fact that it’s still uncommon enough for young black people to travel– or for people to recognize that there are young black people traveling– that it needs to be highlighted.
Black people certainly travel, this is a fact. But another fact is that many in communities of color aren’t afforded the same opportunities to venture beyond their hometowns as their White counterparts. It’s an injustice that prevents entire populations from taking part in knowledge that encourages growth. This issue is mostly seen as one having to do with class, rather than race, but it is clear that the lack of opportunity to travel, disproportionately affects young people of color. This is not okay.
All of this has me thinking about ways in which we can assure that Black students from underprivelged communities in the U.S., are given the opportunity to travel in their formative years. It’s vital that they see that there is life for Black people beyond the injustices that occur for Black folks in America and that they don’t have to be defined by this. They may find that there is more injustice elsewhere in the world or they may find that there is less–the point is that they deserve to see for themselves. If it is true that “travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind,”then it is absolutely true that we are doing a disservice to our youth of color if they aren’t given a chance to learn and to impart such vigor through their own lived experiences.