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Traveling To Poor Countries Doesn’t Make You A Better Person

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in black feminism

travel doesn't make you a better person

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes.”

— Marcel Proust

In 2018, I’ve traveled more than I have any other year of my life that I can remember. I traveled to Barbados twice, visited different cities and towns all across the East Coast of the United States from New York to Washington, DC. My travels were to both rural destinations, fully gentrified cities and cities enduring the destructive transformation of gentrification street by street.

Traveling has opened my eyes. I don’t mean this in the corny way white girls do when they take a picture with an exuberant (or more hilariously, totally uninterested) mahogany colored child. Opening my eyes to my internal journey throughout my 2018 travels has cracked open a major myth about traveling that is all too easy to believe when you’re fantasizing about Santorini from a bed.

Travel is not inherently transformative. Travel doesn’t break down the barriers between visitors and tourists. Traveling doesn’t make you a better person.

Can traveling have a positive impact? Absolutely. But the myth that change, transformation and a better understanding of social inequalities erupt inherently from travel serves only to perpetuate the capitalistic myth that our consumption is equivalent to activism.

The Disturbing Truth About Visiting Washington, DC

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in intersectional feminism

gentrification in washington dc urban colonization and neo colonialism in the caribbean

Tourism allows visitors to experience cities, towns, and countries through rose-colored glasses. The information accessible to a tourist is carefully curated both virtually and in reality. Tourism forces sanitization of a true culture to increase the appeal to tourists. A place is distilled to a “product”. In marketing, you highlight the benefits of a product and ignore the flaws, hopeful that your customers’ attention isn’t drawn to them.

Tourism requires a commodification of local life and flavor. Tourist experiences are quite literally referred to as “packages”. A good product attracts more tourists and a “bad” product repels them. Thus, city governments and countries are motivated to put their best foot forward.

When a city’s economy relies on tourism, there’s an impetus to “sell” a good product and most of us who live in tourist destinations are indoctrinated into a cult of selling, where our experiences and livelihoods must go through a sanitization process before we present those experiences and our “culture” to outsiders.

When I first visited Washington, DC in 2010, I experienced life there as a tourist. I stayed in Virginia with wealthy extended family members who worked and attended school in Washington, DC. I rode in a Prius to the train station and spent each day wandering around the National Mall and surrounding museums in the city with my grandfather, who viewed Washington through equally clueless lenses.

My second trip to Washington in 2011 was only slightly different. I attended Model UN conferences when required to and spent the rest of the time wandering the streets nearby the Hilton where my United Nations cohort stayed. Again, I visited the National Mall. I defied my fear of heights and rode the elevator to the top of the Washington Monument where I stared down at the empty reflecting pool with disappointment. Winter had eliminated some key features of the tourist experience and hinted at a truth that I was not yet prepared to see. Off-season meant a little wear and tear on the “package”.

Our Messed Up Beliefs About Africa: Heart of Darkness & Black Consciousness

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in black feminism

messed up beliefs about africa african diaspora caribbean diaspora writing

“Nobody cares about Africans, bruh.”

I read either this exact statement or some variation of it from an African blogger. For the sake of not unjustly exposing anyone to being called out on my blog when they didn’t agree to it, I’ve left out a few details of the statement and surrounding details.

I read the statement, and I didn’t flinch. I didn’t feel a pang of guilt or the defensive need to prove that I really did care about Africans. Some writers and bloggers immediately feel this urge, or a need to prove that Africans are actually the big bad bullies of the diaspora — the “lucky” ones who were “never enslaved” — a historically inaccurate statement, rife with ignorance.

Honestly, the statement was (and remains) true.

IS SAINT LUCIA GAY FRIENDLY?

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I get this question often. Most commonly, I get this question on YouTube, since I’ve recently started a channel about life and travel here. It’s a question that’s difficult to answer in a YouTube comment when you have a limited amount of time and space, and the additional difficulty of not being able to “read” the person you’re talking to in order to determine if they’re really hearing you. The more I get this question, the more I do want to address it somewhere because the answer is both simple and complicated.

“Is Saint Lucia gay-friendly?” The short answer is no.

Independence Day Reflections 2018

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in black feminism, intersectional feminism

 

This month in Saint Lucia, we celebrated 39 years of Independence. This year, Independence Day celebrations differed from many years that I’ve experienced. This year, I noticed many people waving our flag from their cars and in general, the expression with national colors seemed to be at an all-time high. We love symbols and symbolism here — from the crucifixes we wear around our necks, to carrying Jansport backpacks at school.

What do we find when we observe these symbols? What’s there and what does Independence mean?

How often do we ask that question? How often do we ask whether or not we’ve truly “made it” out of colonial oppression?

37 COMMUNITY BUILDING EXERCISES FOR MILLENNIALS

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in define feminist

Online activism is a hot mess to me these days, and I’ve largely lost interest in 99% of the activities that I was once interested in. This is just a reality of increasing responsibilities and a shifting of my energy to activities I believe serve me better.

If it isn’t local feminist groups sharing videos suggesting that “I am Chris Brown” is a “movement” for black men to join, it’s homophobia, classism, or something else. Frankly, it’s exhausting and I no longer have the energy or proclivity to have “discussions” with people who are unwilling to educate themselves on the basics before assuming they’re correct.

There are a number of contemporary resources for educating yourself about feminism in the Caribbean, my blog included, and of course, scores of books, many of which I’ve already listed previously on my blog, or I’ve linked throughout my previous posts.

Mobility Issues Reduce Women’s Accessibility To A Secure Future

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in intersectional feminism

When I went with my boyfriend to renew his Saint Lucian passport in downtown Castries, we climbed five flights of stairs to get to the top. Taking the elevator would have still left us with one or two flights of stairs to get to the office where passports are issued. Public buildings in Saint Lucia still leave a lot to be desired when it comes to accessibility. If it isn’t ramps positioned at 75 degree angles, it’s a lack of elevators or proper accommodations for physically disabled people.

Women’s Wednesdays: Carnival Is Not A “Feminist” Space

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Carnival is not a feminist space simply because there is nothing that materially or theoretically differentiates carnival from what it is like living as a woman in the Caribbean on a daily basis. While carnival can be a positive space for some women on an individual basis, we cannot too liberally apply the label of “feminist” to any space where women feel happy.

LGBT Tuesdays: Anti-buggery laws

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Striking anti-buggery laws are not a big priority for West Indian politicians, despite the fact that these homophobic laws are relics of a hateful past. We are willing to hang onto harmful colonial ideology as long as it’s homophobic. Politicians do not even see it as a priority to protect LGBT citizens from violence.

Men’s Issues Monday: Male Victims Of Rape/Abuse Deserve More.

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CW: rape & abuse

Male victims of rape and/or abuse deserve more than being used as a “trump card” to invalidate women’s issues. Men who do not care about male victims of abuse love to point out that men are also abused as a tactic to divert attention away from discussing women’s issues. These people do not care about women. (I bet you already figured that out!) They feel annoyed that women have the gall to discuss their social issues and their entitlement to be at the center of attention at all times supersedes their empathy for male victims of abuse or rape.