Tag: African-American women

UrbanTravelGirl talks about being a sister living abroad on “The Traveling Eye” radio show

There’s nothing like reliving old memories—especially those that have shaped you into the person you are today. And last week, thanks to a fabulous Chicago-based Travel radio show, I got the chance to reminisce about my sistagirl-living-abroad-in-Italy experience from five years ago!

The hour-long show is called The Traveling Eye (http://www.thetravelingeye.com/), and its programming is especially designed to appeal to upscale African-American consumers and travelers. It’s hosted by two dynamic sisters: my Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., soror and Chicago radio legend Bonnie DeShong and travel specialist and Advantage International President and Founder Ja’Vonne Harley. Listen to THEIR show and before it’s over, you’ll want to be online or on the phone booking some fabulous getaway. And some advertisers don’t believe that black folks travel—and travel in style? Along with WHUR-FM in Washington, D.C., Bonnie and Ja’Vonne are leading a tour of nearly 100 folks to Egypt and Dubai in February—and this nearly two-week trip is SOLD OUT!

During last week’s show, Bonnie and fill-in host Gene Harley asked me and a super-bad American expat sister named Tiffany Zunker who’s lived abroad for half her life to share thoughts on why we first got interested in living abroad….

Continue 27 Comments October 15, 2010

Black women “getting their swirl on” when traveling abroad—are you one of them?

Just last week, I picked up a provocative new book: Don’t Bring Home a White Boy: And Other Notions That Keep Black Women from Dating Out (http://www.karynlanghorne.com/)(Gallery Books, $24.99) by Karyn Langhorne Folan. A sister who’s a Harvard Law School grad, former law professor and novelist, Folan plays off the unspoken admonition many of black women have received for generations. The author herself is married to a white American man, and in her book includes real-life anecdotes with black and white men and women as she explores the “notions” that keep interracial dating off the table for many sisters.

But what interested me most is her last chapter: “It’s the Same Story Around the World.” Here, she writes how “Traveling the world—and meeting men from other countries and cultures—can offer American black women a new view of themselves as desirable.” She shares the stories of sisters who’ve lived in Europe, who talk about the very different dynamics of interracial relationships on that continent and in the States.

Many mention feeling attractive, desired, and appreciated FOR their blackness, rather than in spite of it. Some talk about feeling “freer” to be themselves, both personally and in relationships, when they are abroad. And, as Black Women in Europe blog and social network founder Adrianne George reports: “I want black women to know that, in the wider world, we are perceived as smart, hardworking and talented. In short, the world thinks you’re awesome.”

Continue 72 Comments April 5, 2010

Tips for sisters on ‘hooking up’ their hair when traveling abroad, Part Deux

Late last month, I wrote about the “hair issues” we black women often face when traveling abroad—and promised to offer some tips about handling these when you’re overseas.

When I first traveled to Europe in the late 1990s, visiting a friend who worked on a U.S. Army base in Germany, I was doing the relaxed hair thing, toting multiple curling irons and assorted lotions and potions in my always-overstuffed suitcase. But once I started hitting the road with friends, all those curling irons became a royal pain. What a hassle to constantly be plugging in, moving irons from one room to the other, waiting for them to cool down before you could pack them, etc. And then there was always the issue of “what if it rains?”

Now that I’ve been wearing two-strand twist extensions for most of the past five years, that’s no longer a concern. BUT, I have gotten overseas and much to my dismay, realized that I forgot to pack my favorite olive oil sheen or softening lotion. This, my friends, can be a challenge—especially since overseas trips tend to last for more than just a weekend.

But if you find yourself in a city—especially in Europe—and have arrived sans products, I’ve discovered that black folks and Arabs (who frequently have similar hair textures as ours) often live near the city’s main train station….

Continue 53 Comments January 10, 2010

‘Harlem in Montmartre’ retraces musical history of African-Americans in Paris

Don’t know if any of you caught this on PBS stations in the United States last night, but a FABULOUS documentary highlighting called “Harlem in Montmartre” walked viewers through the roots of African-American jazz in Paris and the forces that shaped this incredible musical genre. As many of you know, Paris is my favorite city in the world, the one place I’d choose if told I could never leave. And when there, I love to stroll around the colorful 18th arrondisement where Montmartre, the city quarter spotlighted in the film, is located.

As the documentary showed, this was where black American musicians, artists and writers often settled when they arrived in the City of Light between the First and Second World Wars. There were nightclubs owned and run by black folks – even strong African-American women like Ada “Bricktop” Smith, whose club was the place to be. It was here that jazz greats like New Orleans native Sidney Bechet earned their fame; where entertainers like the beloved Josephine Baker (whose do-it-your-own-way life story never ceases to amaze and inspire me) performed and hung out. This was no small thing, as these black Americans found a personal and creative freedom they were denied back “home” in the United States. The French embraced them, and African-Americans in Paris embraced them right back….

Continue 4 Comments August 27, 2009

Some sisters never more at home than when traveling abroad

Not that I didn’t already know this, but I’m always thrilled to hear about black women out there who, American or other passports in hand, eagerly take off for trips to places where we’re not always sure if there will be lots of other folks who look like “us “when we get there. But we go anyway, and often return home with fresh eyes.

Take American Black Chick in London. We met “virtually” through her fabulous blog of the same name, as she’s finishing up her M.A. dissertation in London this summer and looking for work that will extend her excellent European adventure. Not only do I love her fresh perspective on being a young African-American sister overseas, but admire her fearless spirit, especially when it comes to taking on the world on her own terms. American Black Chick just got back from a two-week jaunt to Italy, Switzerland and Liechtenstein and dished a bit about the trip….

Continue 6 Comments August 11, 2009

Black women traveling abroad: Learn a foreign country’s social mores, customs before you go

At the recent Travel Blog Exchange ’09 conference in Chicago, a fellow blogger and I found ourselves discussing why African-American women—even those with the financial means and interest in traveling abroad—don’t do it more often. I often think about this, as I always feel it would be GREAT to see more sisters when I’m running around Italy or Spain either in a group or solo.

For many of us, it’s fear of the unknown. We don’t speak the language; we don’t know anyone in the country we’d like to visit. But in countless conversations I’ve had with African-American women over the years, it comes down to wondering how we’ll be perceived as black people. Even without realizing it, being black in America—whether dirt-poor, comfortably affluent like “The Cosby Show” Huxtables, or “movin’ on up” like the Jeffersons—means wearing the subconscious burden of potential discrimination on our backs like the latest designer dress….

Continue 22 Comments August 9, 2009


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