It’s BlackLove.com Travel Week! Travel Curator Kasara E. Davidson, Esq. talks the Black Travel Renaissance and well-traveled (or, not so much) significant others.
For the past 5-7 years, I have noted a significant increase in international travel within the Black community in the United States, creating what I refer to as the Black Travel Renaissance. From individual and personal group travel to travel companies such as Nomadness Travel Tribe, Travel Noire, Tastemakers Africa, Black Adventuristas, and Black Naturists Association, a large number of Black folks in the U.S. are using our U.S. citizenship, and the freedom and ease of travel that it affords, to travel our world. We are ambassadors of our culture and country — posing and posting, sharing and liking— creating memories and clearly loving every minute of it. Trips can include partners, new friends, old friends, children, strangers, parents, and even grandparents. We are even gifting travel experiences for special occasions, many times affording family elders first-time or bucket list international travel adventures.
All travel feeds my soul, but international travel soothes her.
All travel feeds my soul, but international travel soothes her. I am fortunate to have traveled my entire life, and now through my consulting company Diaspora Travel & Trade, travel (and trade) is my life’s work. I curate travel experiences to places and spaces in the world that are special to me. As a result of my love affair with travel, the Black Travel Renaissancebrings me pure joy.
I cannot remember a time in my life when international travel was not an integral part of my life. I remember when flying was less like riding a bus in the sky and more like a page from a travel lifestyle magazine — in all cabin classes. I remember when the “No Smoking” signal actually went off and travelers were permitted to use open flames to create a smoke-filled box in the sky. A time when full meals were served on most flights, if not every flight, over an hour, and regular luggage did not have a fee; when flight attendants were mostly stewardesses, who were mostly actors or models, or so it seemed, and smiled often. And I can remember the sound of a plane full of passengers clapping for our captain because we arrived safe and sound.
I also remember often being the only, or one of only a few Black families or groups when I traveled internationally.
I cannot imagine a life without travel. International travel. I cannot imagine a reality where I am not constantly seeing, smelling, tasting, hearing, and feeling new things and engaging with the people of these places. So, when my auntie CDD (pronounced “C Double D”) told the pre-teen Kasara that any man that she seriously dated should have a passport and a tuxedo, her words struck a chord, and the echo remained with me. At the time I did not focus too much on the “Tuxedo” half, instead her words represented the idea that my partner must also have the desire, inclination, willingness, and curiosity to see the world. It spoke to my very existence. It spoke to what I knew to be important, how I wanted to curate my life.
When my auntie CDD told the pre-teen Kasara that any man that she seriously dated should have a passport and a tuxedo, it struck a chord that remained with me.
“Passport & Tuxedo: How Important Is It That Your Partner Have Traveled?” is a question born from conversations with an aunt who has been a great influence in my life. But today, right now in this moment, something about the statement and subsequent analysis now feels incomplete, inaccurate, imperfect, where before it felt true. And this, my loves, is my block.
As I sit in Havana, Cuba, with a perfect breeze from the recent rain, writing music, snacks, and libations, and cigarettes – a world, my world, intentionally designed with travel as the keystone — the questions still remain: How important is it for your partner to have traveled? To want to travel? To be able to travel?
Perhaps my aunt’s statement was meant to be symbolic. But…I think that she was quite totally, entirely, and absolutely serious. And I love her for that commitment. However, I never took the statement as a literal proclamation. A partner without a passport (or a tuxedo for that matter) has never actually been a deal breaker for me. I was raised by a very committed village, and so even at a young age, I was fully aware that Black folks in the US historically did not travel for leisure, domestic or international, as often as other communities for a number of reasons — including financial, cultural, and traditions of repeated/learned behavioral patterns (some being survival techniques). Therefore, all I really needed from a partner was the wantand desire to travel.
But right now, even this representative perspective seems narrow. What if he does not have a passport, or has one, and does NOT want to travel? Should this be a deal breaker? Should this be a screening question, based on wanting to live as the “best” version of me?
Part of my love of travel is a hunger to experience all that this world has to offer. To expand my worldview and learn to interact with people with an open heart and open mind — to become that “best” version of myself, vibrating at the highest frequency that I can muster. So how do I reconcile this reality with a reality in which my heart is closed to anyone who will not come on these journeys with me?
I am certain to meet and fall in love with the lives and ways of people from all over the world, some of whom will not have an inclination to leave their sacred community spaces. Their homes. If I am certain that I do not want this perspective in a partner, clear that my world would be too small if my options were (1) travel without my love or (2) no travel, then what does that say about my ability to exist as the “best” version of myself?
I am certain to meet and fall in love with the lives and ways of people from all over the world, some of whom will not have an inclination to leave their sacred community spaces.
In the decade between my late 20’s and late 30’s, I had two back-to-back monogamous relationships — each with very different traveler’s logs. In my late 20’s while attending Howard University School of Law, I traveled the world with my then boyfriend. He had not traveled much out of the U.S. and I cannot remember if he had his passport or if he got it for our first international trip, which consisted of a study abroad program in South Africa and backpacking through parts of Europe. It was not a deal breaker that he did not have a passport (or had not used it much).
My next boyfriend was seemingly uninterested in traveling the world with me, which made me sad. We did, however, travel to and through many parts of the U.S. that I had never visited nor had any intention of visiting. These domestic travel adventures ignited in me a longing to travel my country. I, my soul, appreciates him for this gift and lesson. But it was not enough. Even after a surprise birthday trip to Hawaii, primarily domestic travel just was not enough for me. I learned that, without continuous international travel, I feel trapped, landlocked.
Today, I live and work in a country where folks cannot travel with the freedom and ease that I have known all of my life as a U.S. citizen (which is the truth for much of the world), and consequently, mi novio has neither a passport, nor a tuxedo (although he would look quite delicious in one!). He does have, however, the desire to witness the world beyond his home.
This desire is important to me. This importance is my truth. Even if this truth alters the look and feel of the “best” version of me.
It is a certain character of person who wants to make a home everywhere, yet not really have a home anywhere.
It is a certain character of person who wants to make a home everywhere, yet not really have a home anywhere. Perhaps there will be additional people in my life, more loves of my life, who do not want to travel the world with me. But any partner for a lasting relationship will be hard-wired as I am with a longing to travel, without reservation or regret. International travel holds an unparalleled significance in my life, perhaps the way religion or culture or even race are paramount for others. And I suppose that this staple component of my being will present to some as unfair or closed minded— evidently sometimes even to me. Pero que puedo hacer, yo soy yo — a #WanderWoman.