Archive | July, 2012

Moving into the travel curve….

10 Jul
passport stamps

passport stamps (Photo credit: jesse edwards)


As I continue to look for old journals that have entries from previous trips, I am taking the time to recall a woman I went to school with who made a comment a while ago that I just can’t seem to get out of my head.  We were going back and forth on twitter about this blog, Black Away from Home, and in sum, a concern arose for the small percentage of African Americans who actually make the effort to leave the “glorious” U. S. of A to explore the shores of another land.  I’m not just talking about taking a cruise (because you really only see the dirty port and a bunch of tourist-driven “artisan markets” of mass produced schotskies), or the obligatory girls (or guys) trip to some Caribbean island only within a 2 hours flight of US soil.

Time Zones

Time Zones (Photo credit: r.rosenberger)


I’m talking about crossing time zones by plane, to a location that has ALWAYS (not just since 9/11) required a passport stamp for admittance.  Those places where you may even have to change your watch to a time the day before you boarded the plane.  TRAVEL.  ON PURPOSE.  I wonder what is the psychology behind the lack of desire of African Americans to experience lands other than the United States.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m clear that there are plenty of things to do and see in the United States.  I also know that very few African Americans have explored this land either.

This is a photo of a public space in the cente...

This is a photo of a public space in the center of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on 27 December 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think about a sorority sister of mine who got the most awesome opportunity to teach in Abu Dhabi for 18 months.  For many of people in her circle, the instinctual reaction was “Why?” accompanied with a look of disgust or pity before her explanation.  Why does this seem to be our initial reaction to things unknown, particularly overseas travel?  I am extremely curious as to whether or not this is at all related to some sort sociocultural memory that we may have of “extended travel” that did not end too well for usn our past.

This is not a question in jest.  I seriously am wondering whether or not the memory of the Ma’afa (Middle Passage) is so ingrained into our genetic make-up that it takes a particular type of person to be able to overcome it and travel the world.  Has the treacherous voyage of our ancestors to this side of the world stymied some of us into ever traveling long distances again?  If that is an excuse that some of us would like to use, than how would we explain the movement during Jim Crow of many of our African-American artists who fled the US to live in Paris (James Baldwin, Josephine Baker) or during the post-soul movement those scholars and activists who fled to Africa and Cuba (albeit sometimes in exile) like Stokely Carmichael and Angerla Davis?

Photo by Rudolf Suroch of Josephine Baker. Hav...

Photo by Rudolf Suroch of Josephine Baker. Havana, Cuba. 1950 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What about Garvey, who encouraged African Americans in the early part of the 20th century to move back Africa, and the group who actually did and established Liberia?  It can’t just be that we are predisposed NOT to travel, there are so many examples of those of us who have.  When did we get to the point of complacency (or fear) that is seen as a novelty to travel overseas, or a representation of your personal wealth and status because you have traveled overseas (as someone who has only paid for 4 of the 18 overseas trips I’ve taken, MY monetary wealth is dismal at best).

I want to be one of the ones to encourage us to try it again.  This time, we are in control of where we go, how we will experience it and when we will leave.  We’re not fleeing oppressive conditions or circumstances (at least not too oppressive at this point, I may have a different response come January 2013 given the current move of US politics).

Another factor is money is always an issue.  Especially considering now in the Post-Bush economic debacle that pushed African Americans to the brunt end of economic woes and joblessness (No need to correct me.  I know who is president, but I also pride myself on being a literate citizen).  However, I also know that there are many travel agencies that specialize in “service travel,” or trips that cost little to nothing and allow you the opportunity to do service work (not necessarily mission work) overseas.

Travel Guides

Travel Guides (Photo credit: Vanessa (EY))

The opportunities are out there.  I encourage ANY African American who has dreamed of going somewhere (even if a fleeting thought), to research it and GO.  Pack your bag, get your travel guides and experience some place other than home.  It is time for us to collective step into the travel curve.  Let us become a growing number of African Americans who have an up-to-date passport with a stamp from another country less than six months old.  Allons-y! Vayamonos! Let’s go!


I encourage your thoughts on this topic!  Leave a comment.  This is still a ruminating thought in my head.  As you can tell from the post, I’m not real sure what to do with it. (Sorry for the eclectic mix of thoughts)


London, March 12, 2010 (The last day)

2 Jul


A Bicycle in Oxford

Ahhh! The lovely Oxford.  First of all, I see why public transportation is so efficient–it is the money making machine for jolly ol’ England.  But once we got there, beautiful!  I visited Radcliffe Camera (a reading room) and the Bodleian Library.

The Radcliffe Camera in Oxford, England as vie...

The Radcliffe Camera in Oxford, England as viewed from the tower of the Church of St Mary the Virgin. This is a 10 (2×5) segment panorama taken by myself with a Canon 5D and 70-200mm f/2.8L at 70mm. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I almost immediately became envious of the wealth and breadth of knowledge there.  Imagine the research I could do!  gain, that green-eyed woman returns to take her place in the courtyard (1 of 3) of the Bodleian Library.  I do see once again the confidence of this country.  It is fascinating to witness how lackadaisical they are about what they have acquired, the strength and power.  My mind however goes back to the House of Commons.  Why the propaganda?  Why present an identity that is not true? What is it that causes us to so meticulously arrange how we desire to be seen?

The effort it takes to present a particular open self pane in Johari’s Window does nothing more but enlarge the other panes of the self.  I think about ways in which individuals painstakingly hide and close off parts of themselves for the sake of only showing what they want the world to see.  This usually ends in catastrophe riddled with either humiliation or hurt.  It has happened to me and I’ve seen it happen to others.  But what will be the consequence when it is an entire country? A country whose hard head could very well have led to a backside as soft as pudding but as fragile as crystal…a devastating combination (2012 aside: I swear I wrote this in 2010 any resemblance to current countries’ status is purely coincidental).

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