Celebrating Black History and Black Futures
Written by: Guest on February 01, 2023
By KHM Travel Group Agent, Dr. Tonicia Freeman-Foster, Owner of TnT Escapes, LLC
“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.”Audre Lorde
As a Black woman traveler, my loved ones and I LOVE to visit the Caribbean and other places where we can be amongst and in communities with people whose skin tones resemble ours.
We intentionally seek places where we will be safe in our beautiful Black skin and simultaneously learn about the lives and legacies of Black and Brown people worldwide. To us, they are our family.
In actuality, we may very well be connected through our African origins. When traveling to these locations, there is an indescribable feeling of joy in being “home,” being able to breathe, and being accepted for who we are, just as we are.
An Unforgettable Travel Experience
A few years ago, my loved ones and I had the privilege of traveling to Mexico for the first time. We were super excited! Upon arriving, we were a little intimidated at first, as many of the resort hosts only spoke Spanish. This experience was different from the other countries we visited in the past, where resort hosts always spoke and understood our English language, and activities were often based on familiar traditions. However, being an “English-speaking American” at this resort did not equate to the hosts catering to “the American culture.” The people at this Mexican resort held tightly to THEIR cultures with unwavering pride. We could have easily gotten in our feelings and leaned into our self-righteous privilege, but we did not. We could have chosen to resist, complain, and be miserable during our time there. However, we didn’t. We chose to be and do the opposite.
Our group leaned into the experience authentically and wholeheartedly. We embraced all of the opportunities to learn about their country and the humanity of the individuals and families who welcomed us into their homeland. And we became eager and excited to immerse ourselves in this new and unfamiliar culture. Google Translate became one of many friends we met during our time there. As a result, the Mexican and Mayan residents were happy to teach us about their cultures, practices, and how to communicate in THEIR native languages.
Ultimately, we ended up meeting new people, experiencing new stories, food, cultures, communities, and music, and having one of the best cultural and human experiences imaginable.
One of the most memorable moments I experienced (and that will forever be sketched in my brain) was returning to the resort after an excursion. It was our last excursion during our time there, as we would be returning to the U.S. the following day. As we sat in a taxi in the driveway of the resort in the pouring rain, something magical happened…the song, End of the Road by Boyz II Men began to play on our iPod. Simultaneously and on cue, we all started waving our hands and singing the song together loudly.
Sometimes we are made to believe that we are from different worlds (or planets). However, this experience in its entirety only confirmed to me that we are more alike than we recognize and honor. Our diversity is a gift that we bring to the world and each other through our words, music, life stories, cultures, positive contributions, and much more! Don’t miss out on this limited life opportunity!
- Do you navigate the world in a way that honors and celebrates the unique humanity, cultures, and experiences of individuals who identify as Black and African American?
- What does this look like in your personal life? Who are you when amongst your friends, family, and social/personal networks?
- What does this look like in your travel business? What tools and resources are you actively implementing as a travel professional to ensure a Black traveler will feel safe, seen, and heard? How does this show up in your travel offerings, service delivery, marketing materials, and the demographics of your travel staff?
- What do your partnerships and mentorships with Black travel organizations and consultants look like?
- What is one new action (personal or professional) that you can implement within the next 30 days to enhance the Black traveler experience?
I commit to navigating the world each day with my eyes wide open, intentionally seeing differences, learning, and honoring the authentic humanity and diversity of others.
We thank Dr. Tonicia Freeman-Foster for sharing her experience. In addition to her role as a travel agent, she is also a member of KHM Travel Group’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Committee. Learn more about the important work of this committee here.