How Black journey has advanced because the Inexperienced E book
I grew up knowing that black people travel. Black travelers from the United States and around the world constantly lived on the dining table in Akwaaba, my parents’ inn in Brooklyn. Over warm cookies and creamy grains, they talked about the museum exhibition they wanted to see and the Broadway show that left them breathless.
While loving these New York staples, they always said the real highlight of their trip was the community they shared at the inn. When they lived in a black home with like-minded guests, they felt safe, seen, and celebrated.
This equal access and freedom to travel was the goal of mail courier Victor Hugo Green from Harlem, New York when he founded The Negro Motorist Green Book. Known as “the Bible” of black travel, the guidebook was published from 1936 to 1967 and listed the guest houses, restaurants, beauty salons, nightclubs, gas stations, and other places that were safe for black travelers. Later in its development, the Green Book became the go-to place for an emerging class of black vacationers who wanted “a vacation without hassle”.
Green knew that their travels were fraught with challenges – not only with outrage that they were denied service in facilities for whites only, but in the worst case with the possibility of being locked up, attacked or even killed in “sunset cities”. what this did not dictate – white people leave the city limits before dark. Fans of HBO’s horror drama series Lovecraft Country saw this in a tense scene in the premiere episode. The main characters run through a field trying to escape the sunset. They know that what to expect when they fail can be fatal.
(See also: Take a Green Book-Inspired Road Trip Down the Civil Rights Trail in Alabama.)
Today, a variety of sources, from boutique tour operators to family bloggers, provide the kind of information the Green Paper once had – and much more. In addition to helping black businesses, you’re building a community in an African American market that spends a total of $ 63 billion a year on travel, based on pre-pandemic research.
But in a busy year of political crisis and social change, which included both the assassination of George Floyd and the mainstreaming of the Black Lives Matter movement, a polarizing election, and the removal of Confederate monuments, it seems like the ideals Green aspired to just as elusive ever. We asked the black tour guides about the legacy of the historical guide and what black travelers need now.
Next generation green paper
“One of the greatest compliments Nomadness Travel Tribe has ever received is that we are the internationally based New Age Digital Green Book,” says Evita Robinson. “We are a safe space and that is exactly what the Green Paper was.”
Contemporary resources for black travelers go beyond listing a friendly place to have a meal. They find like-minded tribes and form networks. Robinson founded Nomadness in 2011 as a Facebook group of millennial color travelers, mostly women. The community is now hosting an annual black traveler summit, which was attended by more than 500 attendees in its virtual edition, Audacity Digi, in October.
Robinson knows that it’s not just about finding a travel-compatible crew, it’s about elevating others in the community as well. As she travels, Robinson seeks out black businesses to support her organization, including some famous establishments that first appeared on the Green Book pages such as Clifton’s Cafeteria in Los Angeles and Green Acres Cafe in Birmingham.
Karen Akpan and her son Aidan explored Antigua, Guatemala, before the pandemic. Akpan is the founder of Black Kids Do Travel, an online community organized to share travel experiences with black families.
Photo by The Mom Trotter
Martinique Lewis, author of the ABC Travel Green Book, wants travelers to know that black history can be found everywhere, often in unexpected places. “I was in Amsterdam in June 2018 and, ignorant as it sounds, I had no idea that Amsterdam had all this rich black history,” says Lewis. “I did Jennifer Tosch’s Black Amsterdam tour and I was both overwhelmed and upset by what I saw. For example, in the Red Light District, a place every traveler to Amsterdam goes to, all you have to do is look up and you will see black faces carved into 17th century statues. I thought, ‘Why isn’t this tour advertised?’ “
(See also: How Colored Travelers Smash Stereotypes.)
Lewis’ travel guide sheds light on lesser-known tours, companies and events, honoring and illuminating the African diaspora worldwide and celebrating black communities from Ecuador to South Korea.
“It’s a great feeling when I go to a place where I didn’t expect to see black people,” says Lewis. “If I do, I just want to cling to her. I want to know their stories. “
Zim Flores, founder of boutique travel and media company Travel Noire, helps people create their own adventurous travel stories. When Travel Noire first hit Instagram in 2013, blacks flocked to the page to see how they take up space around the world. It was and is a vision board. With more than 600,000 followers on Instagram, Travel Noire now offers itineraries for destinations all over the world from Morocco to Malta.
“Blacks travel for so many different reasons. Some of us want to visit black historical landmarks, others want to go to a place that is completely alien to what we know, ”says Flores.
She wants to encourage black travelers to travel fearlessly. “I’m in the business of shaking up mindsets, but it would be naive of me to tell people, ‘Just go! Do not worry. ‘I always thought to myself that there are multiple experiences that someone can have at any given time in a particular country. Let me go and find out for myself, ”says Flores. “I think that worked so well with Travel Noire. I was a brave and brave traveler and I was ready to go anywhere. And because I left, other black travelers could see they can too. “
(See also: Discover What This Writer Learned As A Black Solo Traveler.)
Parker McMullen Bushman and Crystal Egli founded the Yelp-like website Inclusive Journeys to expand the Green Book audience. “We thought, ‘What if there was a crowdsourced database of safe spaces like the original Green Paper, but with a twist? “Says Bushman.” We want to include all kinds of marginalized identities and compile a list of businesses with physical amenities that suit their needs. For example, does a restaurant have gender-neutral bathrooms for trans guests? Is it wheelchair accessible? “
Another goal of Inclusive Journeys was to collect the data and resources to make an economic case for inclusivity. Companies “don’t want to make changes because it’s the right thing to do. They want a financial incentive, ”says Bushman. “Profitability and data are the two things that can really change politics and practice at a higher level,” says Egli.
However, the website is not all about the data. “We also want to be more subjective with our inclusivity assessment,” says Bushman. “We would like to ask people: Did you feel safe in this room? Did you feel welcome? Have you celebrated and not just felt tolerated? As a black woman, I never know how someone’s conscious or unconscious bias manifests itself when they are serving me. When other people can vouch for an institution, you can suddenly live a life without those worries on your shoulders. “
Do we need a new green paper?
In the 1948 annual edition of his book, Editor Green wrote: “In the near future there will be a day when this guide will not need to be published. Then we will have equal opportunities and privileges as a race in the United States. “
Part of the triumph of the Green Paper – and its eventual obsolescence – lies in the fact that the laws have changed: Black people can now legally go anywhere. When Candacy Taylor first began researching her book Overground Railroad: The Green Book and the Roots of Black Travel in America, people said they were shocked that the green book ever existed. “They said, ‘Thank god we don’t need this anymore!'” Says Taylor.
With the Jim Crow Acts, which came into effect in 1940, waiting rooms at a bus station in Durham, North Carolina were racially segregated.
Photo by Universal History Archive, Universal Images Group / Getty Images
“Then Trump was elected in 2016 and so much happened politically that people said, ‘We need a new Green Paper! We need a new green paper! Taylor continues. “But I think what they really want is a sense of freedom and empowerment through travel.” This freedom is still threatened.
“While the Green Paper had an index of the places blacks could get service, that didn’t mean you would get there alive – there were still sunset cities and racist cops – and that was the bigger problem,” says Taylor.
(Related: Black drivers have an infinite fear of being stopped.)
After a historic election – one that continued to highlight the national divide the country failed to fix after the Civil War and after the end of Jim Crow – Taylor says there is still much to be done before black travelers are freed from crawling complaints, that occur when you travel to a new or potentially undesirable location.
“A new Green Paper will not solve this problem,” says Taylor. “Those who say we need a new Green Paper are looking for a freedom that can only really be felt when we get to the bottom of the systematic racism in this country.”
Taylor’s feelings are a precautionary reminder for those who hold optimistically to the belief that so much has changed. Even so, black travelers – Robinson, Lewis, Flores, Bushman, Egli, and the like – continue to answer the road’s call. We travel on, just like the black travelers before us who captured the Green Book in search of safety and new horizons. We can’t say no. Travel is freedom for all of us.
Brooklyn-based Glynn Pogue is currently working on a collection of essays on race, class, identity, and travel, while Black regularly speaks on topics on her podcast #BlackGirlsTexting. Follow her on Instagram.