Who am I to tell an audience of people to embrace themselves by traveling to black destinations and the great outdoors? When I was twenty years old and deciding what country to study abroad and live in I thought about Cape Town, South Africa, but settled on London, UK. Now, let me be frank, I had an amazing year in Europe and at twenty was the first among my family and friends to make it across the “pond.” For years I would look back on my time in London and think how lucky I was to be able to take in all that “culture.” The Eurostar (high-speed train) allowed me to visit many cities nearby. I recall walking the streets of Paris, casually wearing my River Island tweed blazer, Armani Exchange scarf rapped in the Parisian fashion, G-Star t-shirt and jeans, and Gucci belt with Puma trainers. Stopping in and out of quaint cafés and museums where I took in my first Picasso, Chagall, and Kandinsky. I met people from different backgrounds who spoke all sorts of languages and it was all so new and exciting and interesting.
So why have the audacity to fix my mouth to say halt travel to Europe and focus on black destinations? My profession is education and I have been teaching students in High School and College for the past eight years and many of whom have been underprepared students who happen to come from disenfranchised communities. Like a sort of perpetual calling I’ve always found myself at schools that needed my story of beating the odds to help inspire a student to be more than what they thought they could be. I often share with my students the fact that I left for college on a Greyhound bus by myself and took a cab to the college from the station; a testament of the will I have had over the years to get this far.
Upon the invitation of one of my friends I met while traveling to Montreal, Canada last year, I went to visit his homeland of Haiti. Similar to when I was planning to study abroad everyone, including family and friends said don’t go there…This time I had the sense to go and I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Haiti. Upon my return to America police had killed two black men and the event had been recorded on social media. Then in retaliation, a black man had killed five police officers. I felt unsafe, I felt dishearten and went home to the US Virgin Islands to see my mother and family and to be amongst my first community. It was there that I decided to create this blog and Nomade En Noir was born. I can’t take back passing over South Africa for the United Kingdom, but I can work to dispel half-truths about countries that deserve the benefit of the doubt. Regardless of what I’ve read, seen on TV, or been told and that is what I will share with my readers and students. If it is fear that kept me from traveling to black destinations or my own inferiority complex that urged me to learn all things European and Eurocentric then I will work to correct that and I do so openly and honestly and invite you to travel with me back to myself.
According to Statista, the travel and tourism industry is one of the world’s largest industries with a global economic contribution (direct, indirect and induced) of almost 7.6 trillion U.S. dollars alone in 2014. The direct economic impact of the industry, including accommodation, transportation, entertainment and attractions, was approximately 2.36 trillion U.S. dollars in 2014. You can gather more information on individual countries through Statista, but the numbers show America and France leading in 2014. So there is potential to help countries such as Haiti become more economically powerful by choosing to vacation there and you get the added bonus of learning about a history that has more impact on your cultural identity. I left Haiti learning more about the country’s triumphs as well as their short falls and it made more sense how a country that was once the first black country to seek freedom from a colonial power could become one of the poorest countries today. When we look at global wealth by nations and communities, it is apparent which ones are the more economically unsound and it for this reason I will spend time promoting travel to those places for I am Nomade En Noir and the journey back to myself means I must be an example of how that looks and feels and share why that journey is important. Remember, if #blacklivematter then #blackdestinationsmattertoo!