The Lack of Black in Travel Blogging and Travel Media

My thoughts on the lack of diversity in travel blogging and the travel industry as a whole, as well as the wider implications of this phenomenon.

Early last week, the White House invited the top 100 travel bloggers, writers, and online media creators to participate in a symposium on youth travel, diversity, and the importance of studying abroad. The glitzy event, known officially as the White House Travel Blogger Summit, was significant in that it finally recognized the role online media plays in providing travel inspiration and encouraging young people to seek out opportunities abroad.  The summit was well attended by big names and brands in travel media, and invitees “broke the internet” in true new media style: by live tweeting pictures, impressions, and quotables from keynote speakers.

But a cursory glance at their congratulatory and jubilant online updates revealed something disturbing: all the guests, it seemed, were white. I repeat: the White House’s travel conference, whose purpose was to promote diversity, cross cultural education, and foreign exploration, only tapped one demographic (white bloggers) to discuss these issues of global importance. The irony of this decision was not lost on me, a Jamaican-Canadian expat who has studied abroad in Europe and currently lives and works in Asia, nor on some of my peers — also black, avid travelers, and digital media creators passionate about making travel accessible to everyone. We took to Nomadness (one of the premier online discussion forums for black travel) to express our dismay at the absence of black and brown faces at the event, airing our outrage (or at least annoyance) at the exclusion.

IMG_6017In Luxor, Egypt

However, before any of us could fire off a letter to Obama bemoaning the lack of much-needed diversity, someone went on Twitter and noted that there were indeed at least three brown folks tweeting from the conference, which meant that at least a few travel professionals of colour had been invited after all. Whew! I promptly unfurrowed my brow and pulled my foot out of my mouth.

But. The White House’s party brought forth an issue that has long been a sore point among people of colour trying to make a living in the travel blogging/vlogging/writing game: a general lack of representation and recognition in mainstream travel media. Because we never seem to be invited to these sorts of events.  Because “Top 10” or even “Top 100” lists never seem to include us.  Because big brands never jump to work with us. Because we rarely, if ever, get featured in travel shows or tourism ad campaigns.

And because… while the ushering in of the digital age has created many opportunities in the online travel world, people who look like us seem to be routinely excluded.

Allow me to tell you a bit of a story which explains why this phenomenon is problematic. When I was young, I thought travelling was only for white people.  Don’t get me wrong, I travelled some with my family: we went to Jamaica to visit relatives and did the occasional road trip to Epcot and the Big Apple.  But foreign travel — the type that required dabbling in unpronounceable foreign currencies and plane rides with lengths in the double digits — felt largely out of my reach. After all, none of the black people I knew did it.  And none of the books, magazines, TV, or films I consumed heavily in my formative years offered images of voyageurs who looked like me.  Instead, they painted the quintessential globetrotter as white — blond and sinewy, skin tanned from days of exploring in the sun, and slightly hunched from carrying their belongings on their back.  Black people, for whatever reason, were not part of this narrative, so I simply didn’t know that seeing the world (be it for fun, for education, or for spiritual and emotional growth) was something we could do or aspire to.

561925_10101106762635882_1435358466_nAt the Colca Canyon, Peru

Twenty years later, however, the travel landscape is changing for us. In “Traveling While Black”, an article which appeared in the New York Times earlier this year, author Farai Chideya cites some impressive stats from the Mandala Research firm: nearly one-fifth of African-Americans take one or more international trips per year, and they spend $48 billion on travel within the United States *alone*. These numbers (which are rapidly increasing, I might add) don’t lie: we are going global — and in droves.

So why are we *STILL* not represented in mainstream travel media? Why aren’t we being asked to share our opinions, experiences, and realities at travel summits like the one held at the White House?  Why doesn’t the industry actively highlight the diversity it seems to pride itself on by featuring people who look like us? (Is it because we don’t matter?  Because the [white] people making the decisions don’t think to reach out to us?)  Given the numbers, it’s certainly *not* because we aren’t travelling. Still, despite the fact that we are going places, and spending money in those places, the media would have you believe the only people playing Christopher Columbus are of the melanin-deprived variety.

IMG_1436At the Camel Market in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates

Luckily, the nonproprietary nature of the internet means that anyone with a stable internet connection and a knack for storytelling can share their adventures abroad.  As such, travel websites and web forums that are FUBU (for us, by us) have sprung up in recent years and provided spaces for travellers of colour to share information, relate experiences, and inspire one another.  The prevalence of social media has also helped black travel communities grow and prosper. The aforementioned Nomadness Travel Tribe has a Facebook group with a membership nearly 10,000 strong (yass!) and founder Evita Robinson has organized trips for members to destinations as far flung as South Africa and Samoa (I even crossed paths with a Nomadness group trip in Spain a few years ago — we were both in the country to go running with the bulls in Pamplona) .  Travel Noire, headed by Zim Ugochukwu, offers travel inspiration daily via their Instagram feed.  With an impressive 46,000 followers(!), Travel Noire’s Instagram churns out stunning photos of otherworldly destinations — the majority of which are submitted by black jetsetters who gamely strike poses in front of the world’s most jaw-dropping sights.  And for my part, this little blog chronicles my travels through 70 countries and 6 continents (pratfalls and all) with a combination of anecdotes and colourful photos.

580920_10101280639739772_1641171600_nWith my friend and  travel blogger Nicole is the New Black, in Pamplona, Spain

557099_10101280641576092_814611508_nWith members of the Nomadness Travel Tribe in Madrid, Spain

However, despite the fact that we are creating our own opportunities, representation in/by major media outlets still matters and the paucity of people of color in this arena just ain’t right.  Because, for those of us hoping to become the next Anthony Bourdain or Samantha Brown, being blanked by the “big dogs” in mainstream media means losing out on lucrative partnerships, collaborations, and sponsorship deals.  Because, more importantly, not being invited to summits like the one at the White House means that our unique voices and points of view are excluded from the important conversations that ultimately help change the world and inform our global perspective.  Because, our absence from the mainstream perpetuates the single story of whiteness in travel and helps to perpetuate the notion that travelling isn’t something people of colour do.

And because…given our history of migration (as evidenced by the far-reaching African diaspora),  it is clear that travel is in our blood.  Inherent. A part of us.  So denying us representation isn’t just unfair, it plain doesn’t make sense.

Have you noticed the lack of diversity in the travel industry?  Do you think representation matters, or am I way off base?

131 Comments

  • Nadeen says:

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge and thoughts on this. There is diversity in travel that is just not represented in mainstream media but knowing that it was still a disappointment to see the make up of bloggers at the White House. In encouraging all children and adults to travel you must show that currently exists across all ethnicities. I was fortunate to have a mother who traveled the World and was my inspiration. Btw Im Jamaican too! I am a part of Nomadness and a TravelNoire curator and these groups are breaking through stereotypes, providing inspiration to brown people everywhere with knowledge of how to make their travel dreams come true! Hopefully we will not be overlooked in the future and media and sponsors will see these groups as an asset not a risk.
    Nadeen recently posted..Jetsetter Travel Roundups: Introduction & Island Getaways!My Profile

    • Oneika says:

      Nadeen wha gwan? Thank you for your comment! It is indeed disappointing that in 2014 this is still an issue. The problem, as I said on the Nomadness thread, is that the people who are selecting bloggers for panels, making these Top 10 lists, etc are just not plugged in to our community. I don’t think that it’s a deliberate exclusion but we have to appeal to these people to do better just the same. The message that travel is for everyone is not strong or clear enough because the mainstream fails to employ diversity and inclusivity in general. Thank goodness for Nomadness, TravelNoire, and all the other communities that seek to provide a voice and a platform for us to do the dang thing and inspire others to do it as well.

      • BRENDA says:

        Hi Oneika:

        Very interesting article which is so true. I am from Barbados and was very surprised that one of our travel agencies was actually represented there. I am a teacher and love travelling, have been to about 32 countries. I try to travel at least once a year but do not always get to do so for whatever reason. My travel buddies are mostly my mum (76) and son (14), sometimes my uncle and his wife and we mainly do cruises. Would love to do a lot more travelling but have some inhibitions about us three travelling alone in certain countries. You so inspire and motivate me, I try to read all of your blogs and wish at times I can come along with you, maybe one day lol. All like now I wish I could be travelling but my mum prefers to spend Christmas at home and I would feel guilty leaving her alone as she only travels with me. Thanks for the information about Nomadness and Travel Noire which I had never heard about, just joined them. You are doing a great job, keeping us well informed and educated, thanks a million! I want to do a European tour in August going to London, Belgium, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, France probably with Cosmos. Do you have any suggestions, I really don’t do travel agencies as they are a bit expensive but as we will be going from country to country I’m not sure what to expect. I’ll welcome any valuable information, thanks. Keep up the excellent work!

        • Oneika says:

          Thank you so much for your kind words! My only motivation for writing this blog stems from wanting to get the word out to people that travel is valuable and transformative. Though I don’t write solely for people of colour, it’s always in the back of my mind that we need more role members in the community to actively endorse travel. So here I am! I’m also glad I was able to introduce you to more communities for us, by us that promote travel. As for your upcoming European tour, I’ve been to and blogged about all of the places you mention, so please poke around the blog for more info!

        • foosrock! says:

          Hi Brenda, have you tried Gem Travel agency in Barbados?. Look up June Clarke she organises trips for locals many times within the year. I know you said travel agencies are a bit expensive, but she might be able to give you ideas.

  • Jayne says:

    Oneika I love reading your posts because you give voice to issues that need to be heard and do it so god damn eloquently (further enforcing the truth in your points.) I totally agree with you that there is not enough diversity in the travel media, not just in terms of writers but in advertising and marketing too. It’s crazy to think as a child you were led to believe by the media that people of colour don’t travel – I can see how this would happen, even though it saddens me. Luckily we do have women like you in the online travel media who follow their hearts, write with passion and inspire travellers of all skin colours. Please don’t stop 🙂

    • Oneika says:

      Thanks so much for the kind words Jayne! And you hit the nail on the head when you mention advertising and marketing: this may be where the lack of diversity in the media in general stems from. They are the only carefully curating blogs and writers and green-lighting projects… So if they themselves aren’t conscious of diversity because they only comprise a certain demographic, how can we expect them to select and give platforms to diverse sets of bloggers?

  • Sherell says:

    Honestly, outside of Girl Gone Travel (Domincan) I didn’t see any other brown faces and I was a bit taken aback that I didn’t see you posting that you were invited nor TravelNoire or even Absolute Travel Addict. I started a blog several months back, and I have since given up on it. I thought, what’s the use? These top 10 lists and top 100 are the same blogs Tbex after Tbex. I see new bloggers getting endorsed from high end brands when their content is less than stellar or doesn’t even compare to others who I have been following for ages. It’s disappointing to say the least, but I know that with time things will change and with quality blogs like yours, others will have to start taking notice!!!

    • Oneika says:

      I *feel* you Sherell!! And therein lies the struggle. We don’t get noticed by big brands because we simply do not have the backing or reach that some other non-POC bloggers do. Again, I think a lot of it comes down to the people who work for brands, work in marketing, etc. Their networks only comprise a certain demographic and thus they are often not even aware that we exist. It’s a vicious cycle. At any rate, if you enjoy writing, I think you should continue to do it! I write not to get noticed by brands and tourism boards, but because I genuinely enjoy sharing my travels with anyone who will read about them. I would write whether I had 1 reader or 1 million and I truly mean that.

  • Great read Oneika and you are definitely not off base here because diversity is really lacking in the mainstream media but thankfully not in social media. I am glad that social media exists because I have come across many great travel blogs from people who look like me as well as others who represent different ethnic backgrounds not represented in mainstream media, and I keep discovering new travel blogs so that’s encouraging. I think it’s only a matter of time before diversity starts being portrayed in mainstream media, It’s only a matter of time…………
    PS: Love your blog!
    GoingplaceswithJ recently posted..Random Things I Notice In QuitoMy Profile

    • Oneika says:

      Yay! Social media like Facebook and Instagram are a goldmine for discovering new blogs in general. Love it! Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

  • Bret says:

    We’ve definitely noticed it, which was one of the reasons we wanted to work with Erick Prince Heaggans of The Minority Nomad and recently brought him on board as a GGT staff writer. Though I’m obviously white, I grew up in a 98% black community and studied African-American history in college, and I think I’ve become much more conscious of minority issues as a result. I didn’t know anybody who traveled internationally when I was growing up, and didn’t really start doing so myself until I was 30. But I think folks like you, Erick, Kerwin McKenzie, Lola, Tracey Friley, Evita and myriad other Nomadness members are doing a great job of leading by example. I’m hoping projects like Passport Party Project and Erick’s non-profit initiative can help make a difference, slowly but surely…
    Bret recently posted..Christmas 2014 Gift Guide for TravelersMy Profile

    • Oneika says:

      Thank you Bret for being “down for the cause”! Again, I want to stress that I’m not trying to villainize popular white bloggers or begrudge them their success. But I did want to highlight in my own bumbling way that travel PR and the folks making these lists are typically white, typically only socialise with white people, and typically only are familiar with travel blogger circles which are quite homogenous in their makeup. So, unsurprisingly , they are not familiar with or even conscious of minority issues.

      So glad that we’re having this conversation, I’m hoping that as a result organisers of events like these will think twice about who they are inviting/promoting/endorsing…

      • Bret says:

        I didn’t take as you villainizing popular white bloggers. To me, the first question whenever anyone points out an issue like this is, “OK, acknowledging that this exists, how can we fix it?” In my eyes, the shortcomings behind this problem boil down to education and opportunity. The companies who are making these decisions (like Hostelling International) need to be educated about all the amazing minority bloggers out there, not just from the African diaspora but also Asian, Latino, First Nations, etc. Blogger collectives need to be educated on the importance of diversity, and the value of it from a business standpoint (there are numerous I/O Psychology studies on diversity in the workplace underlining its benefits). And, through nonprofit initiatives such as Tracey’s and Erick’s, young minorities need to be educated about the benefits of travel, and help provide them with opportunities. As an industry, blogging is still so new, and I think this is one of the things we can focus on to help it “grow up.”
        Bret recently posted..Christmas 2014 Gift Guide for TravelersMy Profile

    • Thanks for the shout out, Bret! There’s so much I could say, but I am weary today. Just going to carry on in spite of the obvious inequities. Even though I was envious that I wasn’t at the White House, getting sponsors for the underserved girls in America that I’d like to empower via first passports and first international travel experiences is where my head is. #carryingon #notalwayscalm
      Tracey Friley recently posted..Dreaming With HomeAwayMy Profile

  • I was really surprised at the lack of diversity at the White House. I figured that you would be one of the bloggers to be invited, as someone who has taught all over the world. But to be frank, it was a bit of a weird crowd at the White House. I only knew about 5-8 bloggers there (and I usually know nearly everyone). It was more education people than travel people. Even so, it seems that as carefully curated as the guest list appeared to be, racial diversity was not the priority that it should have been, especially considering that increasing the diversity of students studying abroad was one of the main goals of the event.

    But…I do have to say that I appreciated that diversity was a priority at TBCAsia. There were 40 of us and the group was so diverse, it could have been a jury. Several bloggers of color, people from five continents, blogging in many different languages, singles, couples, families, photo/video/writing experts, good LGBT representation. So at least that’s one area getting it right. Perhaps increasing racial diversity should also be a goal of the PTBA going forward.
    Adventurous Kate recently posted..My Best Travel Moments of 2014My Profile

    • Oneika says:

      Man, I wish I could have made it to TBC, darn teaching job had me stuck in Hong Kong… 🙂 Hopefully what happened there will catch on. As for PTBA and professional blogging in general, I have to admit that it hasn’t been a focus of mine (due to aforementioned career in education). But it’s one of my New Year’s Resolutions to get more involved in the travel community.

  • Great read Oneika and very clearly saying what has become evident to many people of colour through our experiences with mainstream media.

    Unfortunately those top 10, top 100 lists are misleading to the impact and variety that people of colour bring to the travel industry. Fortunately we’re using social media to change the norm but there’s a lot more that needs to happen to show the diversity that we offer to the table .

    Thankful for our shared outlook and roles to continue inspiring and motivating change to happen.
    Colleen @adlibtraveller recently posted..Top 5 tips for travelling during the festive seasonMy Profile

    • Oneika says:

      Thanks for chiming in, Colleen! Here’s hoping 2015 will bring more colour to the industry and more opportunities to folks like us!

  • I think the White House chose bloggers in a very weird way… Not only they only invited white bloggers, but I also haven’t heard of any non-native English speakers who came to the conference. Also I agree with Kate that many good bloggers weren’t invited and many unknown were. I hope they’ll learn from posts like yours for the next time!
    Anna @AnnaEverywhere recently posted..My favorite 10 things to do in DubaiMy Profile

  • Amber says:

    I am glad that you wrote this, because I was a little surprised at the post that was just written about the lack of diversity at the White House Summit (BTW, I am white, female, and was not invited), but having been to a couple of TBEX conferences there is not a ton of diversity there either – a smattering of color but certainly not an overwhelming amount. What I took from both of these observations is that although diversity exists in the blogging world, I do not think the diversity is in the same proportion to the overall population. I do not think that the White House failed to invite a diverse group of travel bloggers, I think diversity just doesn’t exist in the profession, not in the way that it should, mostly because of the history of access that minorities had to travel in past generations. I think the story here should be how to provide minorities more access to travel, and how to promote travel to those groups, not a criticism of the White House invite list. From the photos I have seen, I will note that there seemed to be a large number of women in attendance, which I think is great considering I came from a prior profession that was dominated by men. I attended conferences that were loaded with older, white, balding men. So, I applaud the White House, and the travel blogging world for including women, of any color, in this profession. But, in my opinion, we can’t be as critical of the White House in this situation. Instead, we need to address the issue of lack of diversity in travel, more than in the invite list.
    Amber recently posted..The Luxury and Tradition of Acetaia Pedroni Balsamic VinegarMy Profile

    • Oneika says:

      Hi Amber! I definitely see where you’re coming from and I agree with you to a certain extent re: the history of access to travel minorities had in the past affecting how many there are now. However, my point is that there *are* many travel bloggers of varying hues (black, brown, etc) who do have blogs and platforms from which they are actively promoting travel. The problem, as I see it, is that mainstream media either is not aware or is ignoring these people. The White House Summit is part of a larger problem that exists. True, the White House doesn’t have an in-depth knowledge of the travel blogging world and thus probably opted to do the easy thing and choose the bloggers they hear about the most to attend. But these bloggers who you hear about all the time — it’s because they are consistently featured on “Top Blogger” lists often curated people who are just not tapped in to the minority blogging community.

    • Amber, I agree with you on exactly one point: TBEX, the White House, the travel blogging industry as a whole are all populated with White people, from the organizers to the speakers, and this naturally trickles down to who attends. This is not representative of reality. It’s representative of what happens when well intentioned White people organize events. People of Color travel and we blog, drawing in huge numbers in social media. An event that is centered on diversity, yet doesn’t even think to consider travel bloggers of color, should certainly be critiqued. Thank you, Oneika, for writing this much needed post.
      Navdeep Singh Dhillon recently posted..The White Travel Blogger Darlings and the Organizers Who Love ThemMy Profile

  • Beautifully, powerfully written article about a hugely important topic. When I published http://www.aroundtheworldl.com/2014/12/14/race-bloggers/ my point was that there are so many high-traffic, fabulous travel bloggers of color with extremely loyal readerships, and it’s time for conferences and “Top 100” lists to reflect that. In the end, everyone will benefit.
    Lillie – @WorldLillie recently posted..Why Was the White House Conference Mostly White?My Profile

    • Oneika says:

      Thank you Lillie, Ernest shared your article with me so I had a chance to read it (but as I was at school, sadly was unable to comment — as a fellow teacher you probably understand the struggle lol). I LOVED your post. It was so frank, well written, and clearly laid out an issue that us bloggers of colour are all too familiar with! Thank you for being an ally and speaking up even though you don’t have to.

  • Kemkem says:

    Thanks for such a well thought out and eloquently expressed post. It’s true that diversity is lacking in just about every facet of blogging/travel. I think there is a difference really between black American and African perception. I grew up believing everybody could travel, you may not be able to afford it, but people were going places all the time, at least Nigerians were. Summer time meant my grandmother would be watching us as my parents were off to London, Israel, Switzerland, Kenya, you name it, church groups traveling etc. That’s what l grew up with, so l never thought l couldn’t travel. I started my blog almost a year ago, and l have been reading yours for about 3 years. The number keeps rising…eventually, they are going to have to notice 🙂 . Keep up the good work.
    Kemkem recently posted..Christmas time, and away we go..My Profile

    • Oneika says:

      I think that you’re right! Funnily enough, I would even say a distinction could be made between black Americans and black Canadians of Afro-Caribbean descent: because as immigrants we often were no strangers to travel. Not only did we move to a new country for a better life, we also travelled back to Africa or the Caribbean often. But travelling “back home” is quite a bit different than exploring far flung destinations as a tourist. Thanks for reading!

  • yara coelho says:

    I’ve noticed the same thing at TBEX. Although there were people from all over the world, the smashing majority of travel bloggers were definitely white. I know there are many Asian travel bloggers, some of which are extremely successful, but I can’t remember a single black travel blogger out there. I wonder why?
    yara coelho recently posted..Portugal: 7 Natural wondersMy Profile

    • Oneika says:

      I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I think a lot of it has to do with organisers being largely white themselves and having social circles that are white. As such,they draw from a pool that is not diverse.

  • For what it’s worth, I don’t think the White House Summit was a good measurement of importance. The list seemed quite random and it wasn’t really clear why people were chosen — was it traffic levels, the topic of their blog, their social media acumen, their writing ability? It made no sense to me. But what is truly disturbing is when you see an event like TBEX — which is supposed to represent us, travel bloggers — and it’s an event that has a grassroots beginning. Here are the stats:

    In the last 5 conferences, there have been 4 black speakers. http://tbexcon.com/previous-events/

    Kerwin McKenzie spoke at Athens 2014 and Cancun 2014
    Lola Akinmade spoke at Dublin 2013 and Toronto 2013
    There were no black speakers at Girona 2012

    There aren’t pages up for years beyond that but I know that it’s always been like this.

    Keep speaking up!

    • Oneika says:

      Hi Christine! You’re right: the WH, from all accounts, didn’t seem to hit all the right notes in terms of invitee selection, racial demographics notwithstanding. That said, from a business standpoint, being able to say that you were a guest of honour at the White House sounds good no matter which way you slice it. 😉

      And yes, I think that TBEX has more of a responsibility to assure a more “colourful” lineup. From our mouths to the TBEX organisers’ ears?

  • Pam says:

    White girl here. Just so you know. And also not invited, so, yeah, not influential. 🙂

    I’ve also noticed the lack of diversity in the faces and popular voices in this sector. And I had the same reaction when I saw the White House pics — “Well, that’s a mighty white crowd.” Word has it that the guest list wasn’t created by the White House, it was provided to them by Hosteling International (do feel free to fact check me on that) so the list may say more about what HI thinks it’s clientele looks like than what the White House knows about travelers.

    Another valid criticism I heard was that there were almost no educators invited, or bloggers that have regular contact with students — given that the program is meant to encourage study abroad by America’s youth, would that not have made sense? Not one former exchange student talking about their experience? What?

    I share your desire for diverse voices, I mean, good lord, if travel isn’t about broadening your horizons and ideas about culture, what is? And this homogenity of “leaders” shows in the results, too.There’s an embarrassing amount of objectificaiton of the other, of cultural appropriation, white girls in saris/white boys in dreadlocks/folks telling us how happy the poor brown people are with less, aren’t they pretty, on travel blogs. ARGH. A-hem. Excuse me.

    Which is the long way of saying thank you for speaking out. We need this. Diversity — real diversity, not “Oh, gosh, they had three black people!”/”We got our black guy!”/”What, we had a black speaker!” — makes our lives so much better.

    (FYI, Earnest White — Fly Brother — was on the speaker roster at TBEX once, too.)
    Pam recently posted..Two Pictures from OregonMy Profile

    • Oneika says:

      Pam, thank you for your comment! I have read a lot of your work and watched (read: lurked) from afar. I feel like I kind of know ya 😉 As always, I appreciate your candour. As someone who is currently a middle school teacher overseas as well as someone who was first introduced to travel via student exchange (Nantes, France 2003-2004, what what!!), I feel you re: the lack of folks in education and study abroad programs at the conference. But, as Lillie from Around the World L said in her post on the issue, the main problem with the event hinged on the dearth of racial diversity. Because as you so astutely noted, a lot of the people in positions of privilege (i.e. white westerners) see the world through a different lens than a person of colour (especially folks like me who are the children of immigrants, are often “othered” in their adopted lands, and have a very different relationships with travel). Hence you get these — and I hesitate to say this — “skewed” views of the world: aka heavily culturally appropriated, rife with off-colour (pun intended) remarks equating poverty/simple life with happiness, etc.
      At any rate, thanks again for your comments! Ernest is a friend of mine and I was so happy when he spoke at TBEX Dublin! And I also personally know Lola and Heather Greenwood Davis — us POC travel bloggers stick together. 🙂

      • Pam says:

        One of the things (amongst MANY others) we don’t address in the forums for learning to blog is how to write of the “other” — a thing that is so critical to do well when we write about travel. We’re so focused on monitizaiton and partnership and the like that we marginalize issues like this to the sidelines. Venues like TBEX promote commerce over culture. If I remember correctly, the year Earnest spoke it was about research and he said his session was poorly attended. What a shame, no?

        I met Daniel Older at a conference last summer — he has a piece about “writing the other” that I am adding to any teaching I do in the future. I like it for a lot of reasons, not just because it’s a guy who’s an “other” teaching us how to write the “other.” We don’t just need diversity in voices, we also need to learn to treat our subjects with respect. It’s not travel-centric, but the rules apply.

        http://www.buzzfeed.com/danieljoseolder/fundamentals-of-writing-the-other
        Pam recently posted..Two Pictures from OregonMy Profile

    • “Not one former exchange student talking about their experience? What?”

      Not true.

      Actually there was a college student on a panel discussing his study-abroad experience. If you–or anyone else–would like a copy of the FULL speaker list at the White House Travel Blogger Summit, just holler.

      • Pam says:

        I wasn’t there — and I’m happy to hear this fact checked by someone who was. I don’t want to be right on this stuff, so I’m glad to hear it.
        Pam recently posted..Two Pictures from OregonMy Profile

        • Angie Away says:

          Here’s the list of speakers:

          U.S. Government
          Benjamin Rhodes – Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and Speechwriting, National Security Council
          Evan Ryan – Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), Department of State
          Denis McDonough – Chief of Staff, The White House
          Bernadette Meehan – Senior Director for Strategic Communications & NSC Spokesperson, National Security Council
          Jonathan Greenblatt – Special Assistant to the President and Director, Office of Social Innovation & Civil Participation, The White House
          Penny Pritzker – Secretary of Commerce, Department of Commerce
          Carrie Hessler-Radelet – Director, Peace Corps
          Tina Tchen – Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to the First Lady, The White House
          Shannon Green – Senior Director for Global Engagement, National Security Council

          Private sector
          Patrick Dowd – CEO, Millennial Trains Project & Editor at Large, National Geographic
          Daniela Kaisth – Vice President, External Affairs and IIE Initiatives, Institute of International Education
          Paula Froelich – Editor in Chief, Yahoo Travel
          Amex Montoya – Alumnus, Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship Program
          Dr Angel Cabbrera – President, George Mason University
          Samantha Brown – Television Host, Travel Channel
          Robert Reid – Digital Nomad, National Geographic
          Robin Goldberg – Chief Experience Officer, Minerva Project
          James Howard – Program Director / National iHeartRadio Brand Coordinator, iHeartMedia
          Don Wildman – Television Host, Travel Channel

  • Carol says:

    Hi Oneika. Thanks for this post. I was there, and there were a handful of black bloggers – not all travel bloggers – as well as other bloggers of color some even of Middle Eastern descent. For the record, those of us there had a had a conversation about this. Some of us felt frustrated in that our experiences as minorities seeking the travel abroad experiences was not as strongly communicated because there weren’t as many of us there. I stood up a few times and was very vocal about this issue, but not too many others openly and publicly did this. The organizers approached me several times, because of my being vocal, and made it clear that they heard me. Why was I the loudest? Why was I the most vocal? Why don’t you know the names of the other bloggers of color who were present? There weren’t many of us there, this is true. There should have been more of us. Again, this is true. But why, when we are there, aren’t we making our presence seen and heard? I have no problem opening my big mouth and contesting the issues (BOTH my posts surrounding this summit concentrated on the lack of diversity in the issue of study abroad), both times I spoke up, I spoke up on this issue, and have been vocal about it ever since. And it gets exhausting. I have spoken at TBEX about this issue. And to be fair, I have had bloggers of color tell me they don’t want to “rock the boat” around this issue, and those who do decide to speak up often do so in such anger that we just want them not to. So, not taking responsibility away from anyone involved. I agree with all your points. But, I have been in conferences with other bloggers of colors – this one included- and the problem isn’t always that there are only a handful of us, but that those who are there are aren’t being as vocal about the issues at the moment they need to be out of fear for not messing it up for themselves. So, let’s address that issue as well. We need diversity, but we also need courage to say something when we have the platform to do so.
    Carol recently posted..Love, Friendship, and Travel: Girlfriend Getaway on The Regal PrincessMy Profile

    • Oneika says:

      Thank you for adding your perspective (especially as someone who was actually there!) and bringing up the important point about POC remaining silent on these issues for fear of “rocking the boat” and potentially compromising already precarious relationships with “top [white] bloggers”. I totally get where they are coming from. It’s like you have been invited to sit at a table with the greats, people who have finally recognised that you are worthy of a coveted spot — you don’t want to make them regret inviting you! Thankfully, my gregarious nature and general inability to keep quiet when I encounter inequality prompts me to be vocal about it, just like you. I agree that if more of us were to stand up and say out loud what is on our minds we’d go a lot further and get more opportunities — if only to avoid mutiny.. 😉 I read your first post on studying abroad just days ago, thank you so much for adding your voice to the conversation and speaking for those of us who don’t have the chance. I hope to meet you in person at one of these conferences some day!

      • Carol says:

        I hope so too, Oneika. What an impact we would make. LOL! Thank you again for this. The ability to express yourself in a way that encourages conversation and not intimidation is a gift, my friend.

  • Carol says:

    Also, the wording that the only people that were invited were white makes me feel invisible. I was there and I wasn’t alone. I get the frustration, but that generalization to send a message does a great disservice to those of us who made it past the crowd. We matter. We might not been big in numbers, but our presence matters.

    • Oneika says:

      Thanks for reading and piping up! Just to clear up any confusion, I actually did say in my post that it “seemed” as though all the invitees were white, but upon closer inspection I discovered that there were indeed bloggers of colour there. My intention was to use that mistaken impression for a jumping off point for the real crux of the post: the severe dearth of bloggers who look like us in the travel sphere. I saw that you were there and I was so glad to read that you had the opportunity to talk to organisers about the lack of diversity face to face! Thank you!

  • Terri says:

    Hey, O. Thanks for this. I also think that we as bloggers need to be better about promoting the diversity of Black and Brown travel bloggers as well. That’s something I hope to do next year. Thanks again.
    Terri recently posted..A Family Day at the CN TowerMy Profile

    • Oneika says:

      Thank you for reading and commenting! I agree that us black and brown bloggers need to actively promote our own, especially since nobody really seems to be checking for us.

      • Edna says:

        You know I adore you Oneika so this isn’t at all meant to be antagonizing or negative at all, I’m genuinely just curious — what about us ‘yellow’ ones? As far as I know there weren’t many Asians at the White House or represented much in travel blogging either (I only really know of a couple, but please feel free to enlighten me!)
        Edna recently posted..The 12 Pubs of Christmas à ParisMy Profile

        • Oneika says:

          I agree with you Edna! That’s why I mentioned the lack of people of colour (which for me includes Asian people) in my post! I chose to focus on black people, however, since I’m most familiar with that demographic and travel groups for black people by black people. Thanks for weighing in!

        • Bret says:

          Hey Edna, I don’t know much about the WH attendees, but I do know quite a few Asian bloggers:

          Gaurav Bhan Bhatnagar- The Folk Tales- Rural Travel in India
          Hai Huynh- Notes of Nomads
          Christine Kaaloa- Grrrrl Traveler
          DJ Yabis- Euro Trip
          Aleah Phils- Solitary Wanderer
          Malika Bowling- Food Lovers’ Guide to Atlanta
          Nellie Huang- Wild Junket
          Gay Mitra Emami- Pinay Travel Junkie
          Ananda Banerjee
          Anton Diaz- Our Awesome Planet
          AJ Poliquit
          Chino Pantua
          Claire Algarme
          Grasya Bangoy
          Claire Raborar-Blaxland

          I’m sure there are a lot more, but these are a few on my Friends list.
          Bret recently posted..PHOTO GALLERY: Our Top 20 Photos of 2014My Profile

  • I don’t think you’re off-base at all!
    Katrina Elisabet recently posted..On a Personal NoteMy Profile

  • Laureene says:

    Thank you for pointing this out,and no you are not way off base
    People of color travel too, and apart from platforms like Nomadness for expression, our blogs are not really out there
    I have been travelling for like forever and i am not really in a habit of blogging but i am quickly picking up momentum
    There was a recent article on ”sexiest travellers of 2014” and even before scanning the list, i was thinking ”there will not be any people of color on that list”, so does this mean we are not sexy enough or we do not travel at all? I did point out to the author of the list that people of color travel too, and i referred them to NOMADNESS
    I think that it is up to us to share more our own travel stories, through social media, if you do not blog then instagram, twitter, tumblr, whatever
    But also you have to admit, the media is more favorable towards certain people, this color dominate advertising, and major news stories, that is just a fact we may have to deal with

    https://thisgirlandherfeet.wordpress.com – is where i am at

  • I’m glad I read this today. I had no idea of the extent of this issue (and to be honest, didn’t really pay attention to that White House thing while it happened). I guess I just don’t really see colour, I see people, and maybe this is because I’m white and I’m not exposed as you have been to the issue, but I can’t say I’ve noticed a lack in any one way or another. I don’t pay attention to race with bloggers. If the content is good, that’s all I need. My partner is a different colour than I am, and I’m always forgetting that until I see pictures of the two of us side by side.
    Thank you for sharing this with us and for speaking boldly on the subject. I’m also happy to hear about all the positive forums and groups out there. Makes me wish I could join!
    Also, had a good internal chuckle about the melanin haha!
    Colleen Brynn recently posted..Where Sky Meets WaterMy Profile

  • Thank you for writing this article! It is so timely and on point. I am also a travel blogger and was floored when a fellow blogger tweeted she had been invited to the WH Travel Summit and she’s not even a travel blogger! [insert side eye here]. I am not happy (at all) to know that there were only 3 brown faces out of 100. But we must keep blogging and writing letters and continue to represent our blogs and building our own brands.

  • As a Latin American Traveler, I definitely relate to this, thanks for opening up the discussion 🙂
    Raphael Alexander Zoren recently posted..From conformity to empowerment: The story of my lifeMy Profile

  • Great and insightful post.

    • Oneika says:

      Thank you! I have seen your blog and posts on Nomadness Travel Tribe and love your pics and stories! Enjoy Namibia. 🙂

  • Ashley says:

    Oneika, this was an excellent post. I’ve been a bit of a lurker amongst black and brown travel blogs. I saw the summit hosted at the White House on YouTube and the lack of diversity struck me. I wrote about it very briefly here: http://www.matermea.com/blog/things-that-gave-us-life-natural-beauty-edition?rq=things%20gave%20life
    I had no idea the black travel community were expressing their disappointment as well. I agree with you we have to support and promote each other. If we don’t obviously no one else will. THANK YOU! for creating this amazing space!

  • Smallz says:

    I totally agree with what you’re saying. I think that white people are a minority globally. So to only have three brown faces at the summit is disappointing. Thanks so for those links to other travelers of color. It took me a long time to find you. I was lead here by http://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/oneika-success-story/ Thanks so much for being here and encouraging me to travel.

  • Thanks for opening up the discussion, Oneika. Excellent post. Like many of us black travel writers and bloggers, I noticed the gap a long time ago. I find it ironic that those of us who actually studied abroad AND lived, grew up abroad (I was schooled in three systems–French, British and American) are constantly ignored and left out of many opportunities. Like our friend Tracey, there’s a lot I could say but I’ve just kept my mind focused on my travel writing, and doing what I can to encourage others to explore. Oh and this ignorance slash discrimination is also part of the reason I stopped going to TBEX, and other conferences…

  • I just started my own blog and a friend sent me this link today. WHAT A GREAT ARTICLE! It shows just how much work is still to be done with regards to levelling the playing field. But guess what? We’re on the right path. Mark Twain said it best:
    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

    Please check out my blog and send me any suggestions or tips you care to. I am a learning sponge, and a work in progress. Thanks!

  • Robin says:

    I totally agree with this post. One thing that sticks out to me about the popular bloggers is that they are afforded opportunities to make their travel a lifelong, year-round thing. Most bloggers of color (from what I’ve seen) are people that are holding down jobs in industries other than travel and only take 5-15 trips per year. Now what came first, the chicken or the egg? Are these other bloggers more popular because of the trips they’re able to take, or was there a racial motivation that makes them more popular, thus able to quit their jobs and be travel bloggers full time?

    Either way, I totally get what you’re saying and as someone above said – I also have a blog but feel discouraged when it comes to the Top 100 lists, etc. It does seem like “what’s the point”.
    Robin recently posted..Around the Blog-o-sphere: Blogs Worth a ReadMy Profile

  • First and foremost, just wanted you know how much I appreciate this blog. I enjoy travel and am delighted that there are resources such as your blog where I can learn more about travel from someone with whom I have some shared experiences. Amazing!

    I can remember looking for resources years ago and found the book You Go Girl by Elaine Lee.
    http://www.ugogurl.com/blog/

    Anyways, since I found your blog, I joined The SITS Girls and I have my own blog now. I think that because blogging is so new as a means of earning income, it isn’t necessarily the right fit for most of ‘us’ even for those of us who do travel. I think this could be extended to basically any historically under-served community. I think that’s just going to take some time, no matter whether it’s travel blogging or any other kind of blog.

    At least in the states, everything is STEM, STEM, STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) because of the job opportunities; and it is true that my peers who studied in the STEM area have essentially a straight shot to employment.

    I also think that, again, at least in the US, the idea of travel for leisure outside of a honeymoon is fairly new. In my own family, in the last two generations before mine, international travel was tied to military service. The blogger 33@33 talks about how she asked her mom about why there were never any international trips and her mom saying something to the effect of not thinking to do any thing like taking a family vacation to a foreign country.

    I would say that it is important to figure out how travel companies can see a return on investment of marketing to the Black community and then they’ll be more likely to invite representatives from the community of Black Expats/travelers/people working and/or studying overseas to engage with them.

    The idea of young people, of any race, taking off to work, study and travel for years at a time is relatively new. I only know people from my own generation who have done so.One other point to consider is that when you are traveling for an employer your company has an account with whatever company they use regularly and they book or at least cover the arrangements. Therefore, the only data that companies can gather about employees traveling is the number of people. I don’t know if voluntary surveys gathering demographic information is par for the course in the travel industry….I don’t recall ever filling anything like that out…

    Just my thoughts-this turned out to be way longer than what I anticipated
    Ashley Kristine Scott recently posted..CollaborationMy Profile

  • Shantel says:

    The shear irony of this post is utterly amazing. Just the other day I was looking for travel blogs owned by POC and couldn’t find a single one that personally appealed to me like yours (I’m a long time lurker by the way. Been lurking here for years and I still get so excited whenever I see a new blog post here!)

    Anyway, I can’t agree with you more. While I’m not particularly resentful over the fact that the travel industry as a whole is dominated by whites (this will probably never change will it?) It would be nonetheless a breath of fresh air to hear about travel from the mouths of people who look like me for once. Also if the travel industry had more colorful representatives I feel that this would greatly reduce the fear that some (perhaps many?) POC have regarding traveling abroad. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen the question of “How are (insert non white ethnicity) treated in (insert country here)” which is perfectly understandable but to me that already shows fear and uncertainty where there should be none.

    • Oneika says:

      Hi Shantel! Yes the fear is real and I, like you, think that seeing more folks like us on the road will dispel some of the myths some black people have about travel.

  • Katy says:

    Fantastic piece, Oneika! I’m very uncomfortable with the lack of diversity in the public representation of travel, particularly when it’s the narrative of ‘white person visiting country of disadvantaged black people to feel worthy’. But it’s travellers like you and writing like this which has the power to change things – if you don’t get a personal invitation to the White House soon I’ll be surprised!
    Katy recently posted..Latest PostsMy Profile

  • Renuka says:

    Well, I never thought from this point of view (maybe because I’m too insignificant a blogger at the moment). I appreciate you brought this up. If there is any sort of discrimination, it is a shame on the travel blogging industry! A travel blog is part of a traveler blogger’s personality – black or white. I really hope ‘diversity’ is practiced in the true sense of the word and everybody is credited and honored plainly on the basis of their talent and clout.
    Renuka recently posted..Top 9 Things To Do In HampiMy Profile

    • Oneika says:

      Great point of view! Thanks for weighing in! And I’m totally with you when you say that travel doesn’t have a colour.

  • Linda says:

    Hello Oneika – Great post!

    Followed link from Janice Temple’s blog on the “Lack of Black in Travel Blogging and Travel Media” to your post. I was an travel agency owner for 20 years, and there has always been a lack of diversity within the industry.

    First the U.S. does not have an official travel bureau, and this is where true diversity would start. As a black agency owner I was on my own when I started – there was no organization that supported minority travel, agencies or agents. Be thankful and do not take social media for granted, as it is a game changer in getting your message and brand in front of travelers.

    As for the travel blogging community, the top blogger lists always have the same players who are supported by top brands and advertisers. It can become discouraging not making that list, getting sponsored trips, or the support you deserve, however my best advice is concentrate on your demographic niche, deliver what they want and keep it moving. Your hard work and dedication will pay off in the long run!
    Linda recently posted..Splashdown Grand Turk NASA ExhibitMy Profile

    • Oneika says:

      Thanks for your comment! To be honest, I blog because I like it, not for any of the perks or accolades. I work in education and blog as a side hobby/hustle. Still, I see the lack of diversity as an issue so wanted to write about it!

  • Amlet Travel says:

    Hello Oneika – Great post.
    Keep going, keep traveling. There is a lack of diversity within our society in general, in books, in travel. Travel in fun and I did so with my two children and set my own online travel agency. Travel is a passion, we need share with others.

  • Craig Martin says:

    Oneika,

    You were spot on the point with this post once again! I co-sign everything and furthermore as a black male travel blogger (we are represented even less) I agree that as a whole the afro travel POV has been ignored. We have never been included in any facet of modern society so why should we be surprised when we are excluded once again? Instead of seeking the proverbial “biscuit” from the dominant society I think we should just worry about developing our own media platform and keep it pushing.

    -Craig Martin
    Craig Martin recently posted..Community Diagnostic for Tambogrande, Piura, PeruMy Profile

    • Oneika says:

      Agree that black male travel bloggers are often under-represented! Fly Brother and Travel With a Hart are my personal faves.

  • Franca says:

    Thanks for sharing this post and your thoughts about this issue of which I wasn’t aware because I don’t look at the race of bloggers, for me what it matters is the content and it should be the same for everybody else.
    Franca recently posted..Five Pics and Tips for BolognaMy Profile

    • Oneika says:

      I agree that content should be the most important thing! But at the same time I think that we should celebrate our differences instead of ignore them.

  • I completely agree Oneika and this post has inspired me to reboot my travel blog once I start traveling again. What is even more upsetting is that these last few years I have traveled abroad I have been noticing a substantial increase of black/brown faces wherever I am. I think it is important to encourage black/brown ppl to travel through media, because being from the Southern States of the U.S. many black ppl there assume that they will be treated poorly outside of the US and are afraid to venture to test that theory. I love your blog and glad that you are out there spreading the word that life is fun on a plane. Toodles
    Tanisha Shulamit recently posted..Finding My Roots pt 1My Profile

  • Shellyann says:

    Hey Oneika,

    I just read your article and I found it very interesting. I’m a Black American woman of Jamaican descent (via my parents) who is currently living abroad in Asia. I’ve been reading your blog for years after reading this post, I’ve decided to come out of lurk mode.

    Firstly, as someone else noticed above, I have started to see an increase of Black faces while I’ve been traveling and I think it’s excellent! I’ve also noticed that many people are starting to go to more far flung places such as Asia and Australia and less of the Caribbean/Latin America (Nothing wrong with these places, but growing up, those were the only places I heard black people mentioning where they wanted to travel to).

    As cruel as it sounds, the mainstream media or even others in the travel profession are not going to actively seek out black faces.It simply doesn’t behoove them to do so. Even though some of these bloggers or travel owners know that Black people travel; for them, they may not see any real money involved and unfortunately, that’s how people respond best.To be honest, I don’t blame them. While THEY SHOULD seek out Black faces and other faces that are not so represented in the travel industry, I know that they simply won’t. Much easier (and more lucrative) to go with what you know.

    Secondly, as someone who as traveled to some of the same places you have (in both Asia and Europe) I’ve noticed something quite peculiar when I travel and come in contact with some other White Americans. I’ve encountered some negative and even downright rude behavior from them. Now, I’M NOT SAYING ALL, but enough to make me pause for a moment to reflect. Some of these people claim to be so enlighted and liberal, they talk a talk of being colorblind and accepting to all people but, once I mention the places I’ve traveled to and the experiences that I’ve had, then that is where the hostility begins. I guess some of these people expect me to be holding it down in the hood collecting a welfare check instead of jet-setting across the globe and doing the same things they’re doing (such as hiking, food tours, exploration, etc.).

    Funny enough, when I encounter other travelers from other parts of the world (including Canadians) the negative feelings come from being an American, and usually not for being Black.

    I mentioned this bit because maybe another reason why some of these companies do not promote black faces is because, they want to keep this exclusively white travel quo. In the eyes of some Americans, international travel (aside from the Caribbean) is seen as something for the well to do. Something for people with higher levels of income and obviously more vacation/holidays (more than the two weeks that are standard in America). I will note that this is just my thought/opinion, and not a fact. While I think that travel should be for everyone, and not an exclusive ol’ boys club, others may see things differently which doesn’t make it right…it just makes it what it is.

    Lastly, I think it’s up to Black people to promote and “big up” our own when possible. I love the fact that you wrote about other prominent black oriented travel groups (I’m going to go do some research about those). We can’t wait on the white majority to play fair or give us a voice in this arena. As a fellow travel blogger, I’ve thought about writing content to appeal to other Black women who want to travel to Asia. I feel that are experiences are in some ways, different than other people who travel or stay for long term here. I will say you have inspired me to dust off my ideas and to go back to the drawing board.

    I think as a blogger, you can just keep doing what your doing. Writing about your travels and encouraging others, no matter their color (colour) or background to get out there and travel. Just remember you’re doing a great thing and you are helping others all around the globe.
    Shellyann recently posted..Gemma Restaurant….Italian Style Food in ShanghaiMy Profile

    • Oneika says:

      Thanks for your comment and glad I was able to introduce you to Nomadness and TravelNoire! They are great resources. 🙂

  • Very well written, Oneika. I’ve been following the forum on Facebook and my feelings lie somewhere between both of the views expressed throughout the comments – yes, more black people need to be on these lists and invited to these types of events BUT we also have to focus on building our own communities, media platforms (thank God for Travel Noire), and travel brands. The lack of true diversity at these types of events and on these kinds of lists never surprises me. But even if black people were included, it seems that there are only a few “token” black bloggers who would ever get any recognition, and that’s unfortunate as well. In any case, reading through some of the comments, I think it’s a bit insincere that some people claim that they don’t see color. I get the gist of what they’re saying, but it’s unrealistic. My ethnicity is such a huge part of who I am – especially living in America. I think the better view is: By all means, see my color, but don’t discriminate against me because of it!
    Dana Carmel @ Time Travel Plans recently posted..Where to Stay in the Rogue Valley: Weasku InnMy Profile

    • Oneika says:

      I love your point of view and think that tokenism is often more detrimental than helpful.

    • Alyssa says:

      Dana – I may be misinterpreting but something about the ‘token’ bit rubbed me the wrong way. To me, token implies that the black person has been placed there by the powers that be in order to ‘add a little colour’. I think to say that the POC bloggers were invited to the summit because they had to be invited (or included in a list or whatever) undermines their achievements as bloggers. Same goes for lists and conferences.
      Alyssa recently posted..Year in Search 2014: The Weird & The FunnyMy Profile

      • Dana Carmel says:

        Alyssa – yes, I think you misinterpreted. By “token” I’m not implying that the invited bloggers of color aren’t qualified or deserving or that they’re only invited to these types of events to meet some sort of quota. What I am saying is that there are only very few bloggers of color who get recognition. In fact, that seems to apply across color lines as even the same white bloggers seem to be invited to these types of events, make these types of lists, etc. I think that the deciding criteria needs to be expanded to be more inclusive of bloggers from different backgrounds across the board.
        Dana Carmel recently posted..Where to Stay in the Rogue Valley: Weasku InnMy Profile

  • Amanda says:

    Great post, Oneika – so well-written, as usual. I DO agree that there’s a distinct “lack of black,” as you put it, in mainstream travel media. But, then again, there’s a lack of ANY race that isn’t caucasian, if you ask me. I took a fascinating course when I was studying abroad in New Zealand a few years ago – it was about pop culture and the media, and we spent a lot of time talking about how underrepresented native Maori people are in New Zealand media, television, and film. This reminded me of a lot of the topics we discussed in that class – way to make me think!

    (And, for what it’s worth… I didn’t get invited to the White House either. 😉 )
    Amanda recently posted..Fantasy Meets Reality on a Mountaintop in New ZealandMy Profile

    • Oneika says:

      Thanks Amanda! I agree with you, that’s why I talked about the lack of people of colour in general in my post. 🙂 But I chose to focus particularly on black travellers since that’s what I am and have in depth knowledge of!

  • Mishfish13 says:

    Hey! First time reader here, Oneika, and I had to comment! This is definitely a facet of the lack of color represented in any media! And I do try to seek out more diverse travel bloggers not just to be diverse but because I ran into a few problems while traveling through Europe regarding my race and wanted an a medium where I could check how Asians are viewed in a certain country, etc.

    I love your writing style and will be come back for more 🙂
    Mishfish13 recently posted..Weekly Recap #3My Profile

  • Alyssa says:

    I’m glad that you brought this up, Oneika. You’re always taking on the tough topics and I really wish that I had the courage to do that a lot of the time.

    I relate to what you said about not writing solely for black readers – I want to inspire people to travel and to write and I don’t want to alienate people of any race or nationality. That means I generally avoid discussing divisive issues on my blog (which, now that I type that out makes me realize is quite silly) and I have that ‘don’t rock the boat’ mentality. It was great to read the exchange between you and Carol (another POC blogger I love) – I think I have a blog new year’s resolution!
    Alyssa recently posted..Year in Search 2014: The Weird & The FunnyMy Profile

  • BlackinAsia2 says:

    This is because nobody likes Black people. non-Blacks are not going to support Blacks, especially Black males, traveling around the world. Black people don’t have money to waste traveling only to be victims of racism overseas when at least we can be victims that take advantage of the 2nd Amendment to defend ourselves in AmeriKKKa. Asians hate Black people especially.

  • Excellent and well written article Oneika. I also notice an extreme lack of diversity across the board in travel blogging from the aforementioned summit, to different lists, to events. There is not only a lack of diversity in regards to Black travel bloggers, but travel bloggers representing other backgrounds as well including Hispanic and Asian.
    Chanel | Cultural Xplorer recently posted..2014: The Year in PhotosMy Profile

    • Oneika says:

      Agree, that’s why I made sure to say bloggers of color in general. It is really unfortunate but I hope by making more people aware of the issue we can tackle it. Thanks for your input!

  • Thank you Oneika for writing about this abd opening up a duscussion. I agree with you, representation does matter.
    It could a loss on the part of organizers of this conference probably due to their attitudes, deeply entrenched racial stereotypes or just a general lack of knowledge.
    The globe is not unreachable or inaccessible to people of black descent who are rapidly moving into all corners of the world in pursuit of economic or career interests, further studies, medical reasons or even marital bliss..
    As well continents like Africa are in many aspects rising, in Kenya as an example we have a vibrant middle class that increasingly has extra cash to blow and has consequently moved from solely skipping off to upcountry village homes for their vacations, to having vacations in far-flung places like the UAE, US, India, Colombia or even the Maldives among others. For decades, kids have been sent by their parents to the US, UK, Canada, Russia, India (as well as many other countries) for study.
    It really is erroneous to exclude our demographic because they will not hear our voices, or give us the chance to relay these stories to the outside world from our perspectives….and sadly, a huge portion of the word really is mistaken and uninformed about black folk…even in the 21st century.
    Caroline Achieng Otieno recently posted..Out with the old, in with the new!My Profile

  • I wasn’t invited to this White House meeting either. 🙁
    Andreas Moser recently posted..Good bye, AfghanistanMy Profile

  • Great post Oneika! I live in South Africa and the blogger profiles are very similar here. There’s also the same mindset that you’ve come across, that travel is for “white people” only. The number of “black” South Africans I’ve spoken to that repeatedly tell me “black people don’t travel” never ceases to amaze me. Whether it’s perceived to be a cultural thing, a cost thing or just a lack of interest, I really don’t know.

  • Fantastic post, I love its realness and honesty – cant hide from the truth. Its shocking that in this day and age or 2015 to be exact that we are still talking about stuff like this. My mother used to travel extensively when I was young and still living in Zambia, so I grew up wanting to do just that. I never for once thought travel was for white people, then I grew up and saw what the made put out there even today and can understand why many POC of colour think that way. If I did’nt have a family that travelled, I would probably be inclined to believe what most media outlets want us to believe and this notion extends to luxury brands that don’t use black models because they dont believe we will bring in the money or that POC don’t spend that cash. As I get older I have become even more selective of where I put my money. If brands clearly don’t want to open their doors to POC then I am certainly not opening up my purse to them. I do hope to see more people joining communities like Travel Noire and Nomadness Tribe to not only show that black people to get out their and explore but this also shows brands and media and just how much $$$ they are missing out on if they dont catch up with the new world. Not including us is also rather a foolish mistake for any business owner who cares about there profit margins.
    Bianca @itsallbee recently posted..A Year Of Travel | 2014 In ReviewMy Profile

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  • You are right Oneika. It would be great to see some more diversity in blogging. I am interested in reading blogs from people from all corners of the world as people from different cultures/races see the world in different ways. Good on you for bringing this subject up
    Katie @ The World on my Necklace recently posted..Travel and Life Highlights of 2014My Profile

  • jfromja says:

    Great post! My one issue with it though, was this bit, “the media would have you believe the only people playing Christopher Columbus are of the melanin-deprived variety.” Trust me when I say–having read extensively about Christopher Columbus–he’s not someone we (nor anyone else) should want to emulate.

  • I love travel too. Read my blog.

  • Pascaline says:

    Hello Oneika!
    You are SO right! Every time I go to a travel blogging event I am the only black girl there! I really hope it will change because so far the diversity in travel blogging is just not great.
    I love your blog! Gives me so many ideas 🙂 Check mine out http://www.1001travel-ideas.com

  • David says:

    I appreciate this post so much! You’re not off base at all on this one. There isn’t enough representation, plain and simple. I’ve been blogging for a long time, decided to make it a serious venture about a week ago, and as I’ve begun to peruse the multitude of travel blogs the only one I found featuring a black person was yours. I’m mixed: my mother is black and my father is white and I identify as hispanic with Caribbean roots. I’m light-skinned but I have black features and thus I feel like I am speaking from that perspective. It’s hard to relate to a lot of the bloggers out there for these reasons. I can only hope that going forward more will begin to step out into the spotlight.
    David recently posted..Travel as a Cinematic GestureMy Profile

  • Jessica says:

    I stumbled upon this post because I am doing research on Latino produced travel media. I head you about The White House Travel Summit. I live in DC and heard the commentary from many of my other peers. What I did do was jump on the discussions on twitter and talk about my experience studying abroad as a Latina. I decided to produce a travel book about Puerto Rico because I was tired to read so many stories about the island on mainstream travel media by writers who have no association with the island. I am confident that with outlets like your blog, Travel Noire, and others, the landscape will be changed.
    Jessica recently posted..Dining Traveler Guide to Puerto RicoMy Profile

  • Arfan says:

    I know this is an old post but came across it on the web when I was researching this issue. It does seem to be a caucasian game but you’re an example that there are exceptions. Anyway I’ve started; hopefully I can be an exception too 🙂

  • Larissa says:

    I was just asking myself this same question, while watching a travel vlogger who I love, but when he goes on group trips with other Vloggers I never see any diversity. NEVER. It just got me wondering where are the people of color? I love watching travel vlogs. When I was taking my first trip to Madrid, I searched high and low for the black experience in Spain and I found maybe one or two videos by people of color now this was a while back and I believe that this search today is different. The funny thing while in Madrid, I met a sista from Chicago, who lived in the Netherlands. So no one can say we don’t travel. I just wished I could see people who looked like me a lot more. Doing travel vlogs and having the same experiences as other white vloggers are having going on safari’s, in Iceland, doing things outside the box while in a foreign land. I did not even know that you had a vlog but, I have subscribed and while subscribing to you I saw that your channel had links to other travel vloggers of color. I am excited to watch you all.

  • Heather says:

    I’m white and I LOVE your blog. 🙂

  • Carmela says:

    I’ve been thinking about resurrecting our nearly defunct travel blog and have been reading “how-to” tips from other popular bloggers – and can’t help but realize the lack of diversity among them. Thanks so much for writing this and for being a source of inspiration for me!

  • Your article really makes sense. I’m satisfied by the way you brought out ideas. Thanks for sharing. Keep on posting!

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  • Hi,

    Great article! I’m not sure if someone else mentioned this already (100+ comments) 🙂 but my experienced is a lot of US have little interest in travelling. I’m filled with wanderlust and have visited Japan and am planning on Italy late next yr! But so many members of my immediate & extended family are just not interested in travel. My brothers and I try to inspire them by traveling ourselves and sharing the photos and such. My oldest brother who’s in the Navy has even offered to pay for their trips and they still aren’t interested in going! I’ve come to learn that people will live the life that they are most comfortable in and unless you have a deep desire to travel, it will feel like an impossible chore to you instead of an incredible opportunity. So many African American people, especially in the South have never even left the state or region of the country in which they were born, let alone the U.S.

    I think it’s sad but I also try not to pity people. No on should feel bad about not traveling if they don’t have a desire to do so. I’m just glad that my wanderlust keeps me moving so i can see this beautiful world where we reside!

  • Ericka says:

    At the end of the day. You just have to have MORE black travelers create blogs, use hashtags, use youtube, and sell products they create themselves. You must create the platform, not worry about being ignored by big dogs, can you get sponsorships from small companies, smaller hair care companies, small food companies, smaller athletic brands. creating tshirts, hats, writing a book/ebook, or other ways to create income for yourself. Just more people telling their story at the end of the day will overwhelm those companies with unlimited travelers to pick from.

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