The year 2020 has brought ciaos to every single person's life. Between COVID-19 murdering over 200,000 people in the United States and millions of people worldwide to wildfires, a civil unrest, and bringing attention to child sex trafficking, as well as presidential elections in the United States, this year has been crazy.
With the recent killing of George Floyd, a man who died while being arrested for a counterfeit $20, protests have sparked worldwide. There is a international cry for black and brown individuals and a reform on the criminal justice system. But what does this have to do with traveling?
While we are all having a conversation about equality, it's important to know how different it is to travel as a person of color compared to the life of a non-person of color. As a person of color, we have to do research on the treatment of individuals in the area we wish to visit. We have to look to see how people are voting in specific areas before traveling there. And if we are traveling in the United States, we have to be careful not to enter any sundown towns.
WHAT IS A SUNDOWN TOWN?
Sundown towns are predominantly white cities in which force segregation. I know what you're thinking..."But, it's 2020. That isn't a thing anymore, right?" or you might be thinking, "Why are you brining up the past."
Well, if you assumed that in 2020, we would not have sundown towns and that by talking about them, I am bringing up the past, you are dead wrong. Sundown towns are VERY MUCH still a thing in 2020 and segregation is still very legal in the United States. Black and brown people cannot just walk into any town we want to and feel safe let alone be able to go back home alive.
WHAT HAPPENS TO BLACK PEOPLE FOUND IN SUNDOWN TOWNS TODAY?
While today's laws will prohibit black individuals from being killed, it doesn't stop towns from letting their visitors know they are not wanted. Black and brown people may be informed that they cannot rent out a hotel room for the night or may even be pulled over by police officers and questioned for a lengthy period of time, if not harassed for their reason there.
Discrimination is a real situation
It's really important to think of discrimination as a factor to why someone may not travel where as freely as others can to certain towns. As a black woman who has traveled to over 9 countries and counting, discrimination is real for me. A few months ago, my boyfriend took me to meet his family in a small rural town in Wisconsin. This town had ONLY white people. People that looked like my boyfriend (if you can't tell by now, my boyfriend is white and I am in an interracial relationship). I remember while on vacation, his family decided to take me around to a few stores. Instantly, as we walked into this one store, I was being followed. Ever move I made, this woman made. Every time I lifted my hand to look at something, her eyes followed me. It was clear as daylight that she assumed I would steal. She did not even look at anyone I was with or any one else in that store. My black skin instantly made me a target and that's not okay. I walked out of the store without saying anything at all and his entire family couldn't understand what was going on. They didn't see it and they've never experienced it before. This situation could have ended badly for me if I probably didn't just leave on my own. It's situations like these that happen in everyday life that are the reason we must be vigilant and speak up.
No one deserves to be a target just because of the color of their skin. We can't scream 'ALL LIVES MATTER' if Black lives still don't matter. We can't say that there is equality as long as things like this keep happening to brown and black individuals.
Travel is amazing and we should all be free to explore but we don't all have the privilege to do so without the worry that someone is going to think we're up to no good or tell us we don't belong. We need to normalize conversations on diversity so this way we can all one day proudly say that all lives matter.
If you're a black person who has faced discrimination while traveling, we want to hear your story. Comment it below.
Your Life Travel Club
Your Life Travel Club hosts international retreats and trips for women. Our mission is to empower women to go out and live their best lives and see all this world has to offer. Connect with us on social media and through our weekly travel card.