Friday, November 20, 2009

Black People Don't Travel

Before you get upset at the title of my blog post please let me explain. I hate to generalize and say that all Black people, specifically African-Americans (AAs), do not travel because I know that's not true. It's just that AAs tend to shy away from traveling abroad for some reason. I haven't figured out whether it's because of financial reasons, a lack of interest in the culture and history of other places, or a combination of both.

The idea that black people don't travel came up in conversation recently with a guy I'd just met. We were discussing the places that we've traveled outside of the United States. I started talking to him about my recent trip to Egypt and how the people there seemed to love us. I told him how it seemed like the people in my party were a hot commodity. The people there wanted to know where we were from and showered us with attention. They were genuinely excited to see us.

I began to notice our group was the only group of African-Americans any place that we went. In fact, the entire time we were there we did not see more than 5 AAs. We knew they were AAs because we made it a point to speak to everyone with brown skin who did not appear to be Egyptian just out of curiosity.

I've been to the Dominican Republic a few times and everytime I go there I rarely see anyone there who looks like me that speaks English. In Europe same thing. You'll see more people of color but they either live there or they're from other countries than the US.

I love to travel and recently when I was going to Egypt, I told several people I was going on vacation there. The responses I received from my AA counterparts seemed to greatly differ from that received from everyone else. The response I often heard from AAs was "Why are you going there?" While everyone else said, "That's exciting, I've always wanted to go there" or "You should go to this place when you get there."

It just saddens me that AAs don't seem to understand the importance or the value of traveling abroad. Trust me, I am by no means rich and have to work for everything I have but I much rather sacrifice for a year to take a once in a lifetime trip then to take smaller trips here and there to places like Miami or Vegas.
It still amazes me that I know people from my generation who have never been on a plane. The United States is great and all but there's only so much you can see driving from point A to point B. I wish more AAs would expand their horizons and look beyond their comfort zone, it's so worth it.


  1. You are right though. Everytime I travel I rarely see "US" on the plane, and let alone when I travel internationally :-(

  2. I have traveled extensively and we have experience this a lot during our travels. Just a damn shame.

  3. I was in Egypt in October and I REALLY did not get the "they love us" feeling. In fact, I've been all over Europe, S. America, the islands and Asia and Egypt was one of my worst travel experiences. As for black people not traveling. I was leaving for Vietnam over the summer and my aunt said "what the hell is wrong with you girl!". Bewilderment is the response that I usually get. But I think its just lack of exposure + a history of lack of resources. Anytime I am abroad and I see other African Americans it's like mardi gras! Ha! :-)
    - Vanessa

  4. Girl I understand you comepletely...I am currently teaching in Thailand...and what amazes me it that people dont know that black people dont only come fro Africa. Most people I meet here in Thailand think I am from Africa...same thing when I studied abroad in Europe. And I think traveling is something that is not stressed in many of our communities...I am from Brooklyn, NY and most people don't leave their 5 block radius let alone their state... I always get the "oh wow thats great...I wish I could travel like you" and they can...but I also think they are afraid to think out of the box. Since being in Thailand I have seen 5 black people... I am the only one in my province, clearly. But on a whole the Thai ppl are just fascinated...we have to understand that they only see each other and maybe some white westerners...when I was in HK ppl took pictures of me. lol..but such is life...wouldn't you take a picture of something you have seen for the first time and probably never see again? ha....

  5. "haven't figured out whether it's because of financial reasons, a lack of interest in the culture and history of other places, or a combination of both" This, but also AA culture itself... it is just not "a thing" in AA culture as it is with others where travel is aspirational etc...