It’s been a very busy few weeks and America is facing a reckoning with its own racist institutions due to George Floyd’s murder. Many industries are looking internal and asking how they contributed to this. I asked the travel industry to look deep and look hard. Being Black in the travel industry is not easy. I’ve written several posts about safe places to travel, being black living in Paris, and much more, but never discussing the back end of the industry.
The travel industry is one of stories. From middle school history books that double as ancient world travelogues to luxury hotel promotional videos it is an industry whose fantasy is built on transporting the reader or viewer mentally until the pull becomes too great, leading to that monetary spend and hopefully, the interconnectivity of the world. But in a world where we are questioning the gatekeepers of the status quo that has upheld systematic oppression, it is time we examine who these story tellers are. What are the limits of the narratives they impart?
I was able to explore this for Condé Nast Traveler and interview some of my industry colleagues on the change that needs to happen. The closing remarks by Kellee Edwards in the article gave me chills during our conversation.
To travel is a privilege but many facets of the industry have for too long been a symbol of white privilege, marginalizing the Black traveler. Travelers are story tellers: from the president of The Explorer’s Club to the travel public relations exec carefully crafting the story of their destination to present to journalists; from the journalist telling the story of the destination to the consumer, a young state politician from Detroit, Michigan. At this time in modern American history when we are reckoning with systematic racism and the need for major societal change, the travel industry, as an industry of story-tellers must reflect on who have been the gate keepers of these stories and how to diversity their medium.
Read and let me know what you think.