Traveling While Black Isn’t for Leisure

Everyone should be able to rub their feet in the sandy beaches of lake Minnetonka, pop a bottle and enjoy the breezes of the Caribbean, visit family and distant acquaintances and “tootsie roll” in Aruba if we damn well please. Unfortunately, leisure travel amongst melanated peoples is rare.

Being in hospitality for ten plus years and having conversations with drunken guests of all ilks who freely reveal their travel intentions puts a lot into perspective. One thing that stood out the most was while Adam, Jill, Chad and Becky “park-and fly” to Cancun for a week, not once have I encountered a black group of travelers with their eyes set on the seas.

I’m not implying that black people don’t travel out the US. I’m just saying we rarely travel in a group unless it’s for some large church event with Jesus behind the wheel or family reunion.

That whole Tyler Perry Why Did I Get Married vibe looks more and more like a mirage in the desert. Not saying that they don’t exist, just that they’re far and in between.

Oh, and there’s the graduation and wedding travelers. Of course white and black people both want to see our favorite cousins, siblings and grandchildren walk across the stage and down the aisle. What stands out is how often I come across this type of traveler and what they can spend.

When Spring hits, Mary Lou and Ben are fully equipped to travel from their farmland in the rural parts of West Virginia,watch their grand kids graduate, spend a week in St. Louis to watch their son tie the knot and maybe even spend the night and catch a concert in Nashville before returning home.

For Dorian and Lakeisha, one stop is all you get and the entire weekend they’re budgeting for food and gas. Income levels are completely different in most cases when comparing white and black travelers. Most black people in low-middle income households barely leave 4300 Alcott Avenue so multiple stops for multiple days is foreign.

White people love to tour and sight see. When they touch down, they want to visit landmarks, historical spaces, monuments and take photos to share with their buddies at the engineering firm.

Black people love to see things, but since time is limited we pass on that ferry ride to visit a family member or friend we haven’t been able to see in years, and probably won’t get another chance to. We spend that time visiting children we haven’t seen all year. Even when we travel we’re isolated due to income disparities. We don’t give a damn about Mt. Rushmore.

Across the board, racism has had it’s way with everything black including travel. It’s the ultimate sacrifice (I mean, except attempting to kill your first born in the name of…uh, yeah) and takes tons of planning, saving and sometimes comes with lots of loss, so we don’t. Even when we do, we do it based on necessity – even when it’s supposed to be for leisure.

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