To Change the Global Perception of Minority Women, We Must Travel More
This post is inspired by a couple of my traveling friends that, one day, had an epiphany. As avid traveler, the more places they traveled the less they saw people that looked like them. They wanted to make a statement and decided to create a series of quotes printed on t-shirts that would eliminate negative sentiments and attract positive interactions. Conversation starters.
“Traveling to change my view of the world while changing the world’s view of me.”
You’d be surprised how many people in the world have had little to no encounters with people with enriched melanin. Of the countries I’ve visited, I’ve experienced “the stare,” so often that I no longer take offense to it. And for us, women (more specifically those of color) when we take it a step further and embrace our natural hair, we become images out of a picture book. It’s almost as if you’re seen as a unicorn or a Sasquatch sighting. People stare, but do you want to know why they stare? Simply, because you are not a familiar face. Yes, the media has painted a picture of who they believe us to be, but do others really know who we are as individuals, women, people of color, human beings? The answer is no and it is because of mere ignorance. Let us take the canvas and create a more accurate mural.
People don’t know what they don’t know. It’s up to us to change perception. How do we do this? Countries vary in demographics and for one that never travels, they will never experience the rainbow of people the world has to offer, ranging from skin tone, religion, cuisine and a plethora of other things.
Imagine if the only thing folks had to reference was what was represented by the media. Africa would only be a land where children are malnourished and living in poverty. All of the Middle East would be a war zone and all people of color all over the world would be seen as marginalized. While those things hold some truth, without travel we wouldn’t experience the richness of The Motherland, witness the beautiful deserts of the Middle East or most importantly, would not desire to encounter those outside of our own demographic.
“I travel to understand not undermine.”
We must, first, change our mind. Let’s all channel our inner Olivia Pope and put on our white hats – we must simultaneously become students and educators. We must have a desire to change our perception of the world by experience. An open mind is the best gift you can have when it comes to travel and edification. Traveling teaches you things about yourself. Everyone has heard the phrase “Your network is your networth.” How fulfilling is it to learn the story of a small business owner in Rome who runs his own gelato shop? What about meeting someone your age in a different country and comparing lifestyles. It can be humbling. Think about all of the knowledge you can acquire. Travel changes you, it grows you.
“We belong here too.”
This is one of my favorite quotes, and it’s because I believe wholeheartedly that you belong anywhere that you believe you do. Don’t worry when someone stares or is “starstruck” from your presence when traveling, or being in a new place has you out of your comfort zone. Just know that you are in unchartered territory. This is a space of opportunity; this space promotes growth. Should I even take it as far as suggesting breaking the ice? Creating a platform for conversation, will always learn you something new. Some will be open to conversation and others will be fearful (use good judgment), but what you will know for sure is that you can chalk up the experience. I encourage you to go somewhere new, try something new, and start a conversation with someone new. The more comfortable we are with creating unknown experiences the better we become. Be courageous enough to create comfort outside of your comfort zone.
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