The World is Waiting for Us
In a country that has never truly loved, respected, or accepted young women who look like I do, many Black women spend their lives searching for belonging. Some Black women search for their acceptance and belonging at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, in service organizations, or in fraternities and sororities. Other Black women search for their acceptance and place within the media: music videos, reality TV, or in the music industry. Some Black women never find a place where they feel accepted and loved, often resulting in a turn to drugs and violence. No matter where you have or have not searched it is always a process trying to find where your brown skin, voluptuous curves, and kinky hair “fit”.
As I personally sought to find where I fit, I took to the airport runway, went abroad, and never once looked back. In some places I have landed, I was the only Black woman in sight, but in other destinations, I was one of many and in a sense, I “fit in”. However, as a Black American woman traveling, you will never fully “fit in”. Your “Americanness” puts you within a place of privilege compared to most Black people around the world and your Blackness in America causes a certain amount of subjugation in most American communities. So, when this reality hits, it hits hard, until you realize that the quality of your time abroad must not solely be defined by the ability to assimilate within a foreign culture. However, your time abroad must be defined by how much you learn about yourself.
When your Blackness is considered outside of the context in which you are familiar with, and words and phrases like "oppression," "minority," and "less than" are not synonymous with "Black," you learn that your culture and your identity transcends powerfully beyond expectations. Our identities are fluid, making them incredibly unique and powerful. It often takes being in a vulnerable state for you to learn that YOU give the narrative to your life you live as a Black American along with any other identity that fits you best.
“Who lives sees, but who travels sees more.” It is my hope that every Black student who travels can create his or her own sense of belonging in and see him or herself in whatever community, village, suburb, or city that they enter. Our world is open, vast, and waiting for US!
We, as the founders of Black Beyond Borders, identify ourselves as Black students beyond our American borders. As our Blackness travels, evolves, and transcends with our experiences, we understand that we must seek to develop limitless opportunities for other Black students to learn that traveling while black has no limits, simply responsibility.