Tag: black women

Why don’t films about traveling or moving abroad ever feature black women?

For most folks, spending 10 bucks and a couple hours at the movies is all about passive entertainment. But sometimes, you encounter a cinematic gem that literally becomes life-changing, that totally alters the way you see the world. That one for me was 2003’s “Under the Tuscan Sun,” (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0328589/) which inspired me, following a major surgery and reordering of life priorities, to quit my corporate job and pack my bags for fabulous Firenze (Florence), Italy.

Even now, if I’m flipping channels on the TV and “Tuscan Sun” is on, regardless of whether the film’s at the beginning, middle or end, I plop down and watch. And certamente, I own the DVD—and when I’m feeling the need for a bit of inspiration, I’ll view it again. I recently interviewed Under the Tuscan Sun (http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780767900386) author Frances Mayes (http://www.francesmayesbooks.com/) for a national Travel story, and that conversation took me back to those dreamy days of living in bella Italia.

The latest film buzz, of course, is about Julia Roberts’ “Eat Pray Love” (http://www.letyourselfgo.com/), which hit U.S. cinemas earlier this month. As I’m sure you know (or have heard, whether you wanted to or not), it’s based on Elizabeth Gilbert’s monster best-selling memoir (http://www.elizabethgilbert.com/eatpraylove.htm) about ditching New York City after a traumatic divorce and subsequent love affair and spending a year traveling through Italy, India and Indonesia. (Her gig was WAY easier than mine, as her publisher’s book advance funded her year of self-discovery.) Personally, I never got past the “Eat” portion of the book, but perhaps that’s because I’m too Italy-obsessed to care about the rest.

But here’s what got me thinking: none of the films I’ve seen extolling the joys of traveling and/or relocating abroad has ever starred a black woman—or a woman of color AT ALL….

Continue 22 Comments August 27, 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

Hair—and what to do with it when we travel—is nearly ALWAYS an issue for black women

I can’t believe I’ve been writing this blog for nearly one year and am only NOW finally writing a post about hair. Yes, black women’s hair—sometimes our crowning glory, other times the thorn surrounding our crowns.

For sisters, hair is political. It’s sexual. And when you travel, it needs to be straight-up PRACTICAL—at least for me.

When I talk to black women about travel, the “hair thing” nearly always comes up—ESPECIALLY when we talk about traveling abroad. It’s as much of the discussion as, “Are there any black folks in (name-the-country)?” “Do they speak English?” And “Will my curling irons work over there?” Because unlike many of our sisters of other races, most black chicks don’t naturally have wash-and-go hair. No, after we wash it, we often need to blow-dry it. And sometimes straighten, then curl it. And PRAY we don’t get caught in a rainstorm or encounter high humidity or some other Mother Nature force that will have its way with our tresses. It’s WAY more drama than I feel like dealing with when I’m on the road….

Continue 23 Comments December 22, 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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