by Kiki Nartey
As The Travellers of Colour Collective approaches its six month mark, it feels only natural to reflect on the growth and manifestation of what was initially an informal idea that casually sprung to mind whilst sitting in my German apartment. As a person of colour who was to embark on a year abroad, I always saw myself as being placed in a unique position, and wished to document it in some way. The specificity of my experiences as a minority in a less culturally diverse environment was something I knew I could extend to other people of colour, who may have been able to resonate with me, and I thus drew inspiration from the affinity I shared with them. In creating my blog, I wanted to provide a platform for expression that was somewhat missing before. Since its launch, it has been wonderful to witness the expanding nature of discussions surrounding the role of race in travel through my blog.
The beauty of having a collection of stories is the plurality of experience yet individuality of every written account. Each blog post from The Travellers of Colour Collective comes with fresh perspective, enabling us to think about our racial and ethnic identities in a multitude of ways and in a plethora of different cultural contexts. As people of colour, our existence and experiences are often homogenised, particularly by mainstream media; so the advantage that The Travellers of Colour Collective has is its ability to showcase the diversity within our experiences. It has also been interesting to collect stories from those who have come back from their travels and people who are still currently abroad. The differing approaches to writing are evident, since some are more holistic in their reflection of their travels as people of colour, whilst others are writing at a present moment in time and are therefore discovering more about their identity under a new cultural framework.
The issues that have been brought to light as a result of the series of blog posts is an aspect that continues to be of paramount importance in The Travellers of Colour Collective. The refreshing honesty with which my writers document their experiences facilitates the very necessary discussion of how race impacts the way we can be perceived and ultimately treated in certain cultures. The intersectionality between race and gender, for example, is a recurring topic, with few who have candidly divulged their experiences of being fetishized abroad, specifically as women of colour. Others have written about their interactions with children, observing the way in which they understand and react to racial difference. Many blog posts in The Collective also include testimonies of positive cultural exchange and the opportunity to educate those who have not been exposed to cultures outside of their own. Thus, I believe that The Travellers of Colour Collective has achieved the aim of highlighting the unique challenges we have, or may face, as people of colour, but to also use this as a source of encouragement and empowerment to continue to venture out into the wider world.
Whilst this platform serves as a safe space for people of colour, the readership amongst non-POC audiences plays a significant part in emphasising the purpose of my blog. I was very keen to make the content accessible to all readers, in order to foster appreciation and acknowledgement from those who are largely unaffected by or simply oblivious to the nuanced experiences shared by people of colour.
So far I have been humbled by the progression and positive reception of the Travellers of Colour Collective since its launch on 1st September. Each new blog post represents an added voice that contributes to the continuity of a unique but extremely pertinent subject, and I hope that my blog continues to serve as a platform for us as people of colour to bring our distinct experiences deservedly to the forefront.
Adeorike: “Aside from the fact that she is a friend, I was keen to contribute to Kiki’s blog because it was an idea that intrigued me quite a bit. Platforms in which people of colour could share their experiences abroad with each other are rare. Kiki creating this blog that was so accessible to many of us was encouraging, enlightening and inspiring.”
India: “I don’t even know how I first came across The Travellers of Colour Collective but I remember feeling an amazing sense of kinship with the people sharing their stories. I felt that I couldn’t hold back my own thoughts, particularly on my eye-opening trip to Thailand, and I submitted my piece to Kiki. Seeing it published on the (frankly, gorgeous) website made me really happy. Just like the other testimonies inspired me to keep travelling no matter what, I hoped that my story would do the same, while also preparing other black and brown people for the possibility of experiencing racism and feeling exoticised in other countries. Kiki’s blog is a godsend and connects likeminded people whom I never knew existed before. As a black woman specifically, I needed real people’s stories to inspire me to keep getting the most out of life.”
Harvin: “I feel that Kiki’s blog is an excellent platform that brings POC together to share their experiences. This is extremely important- as people of colour we should be united, never divided by our uniqueness.”
Katie: I think it’s spectacular what Kiki is doing. Her platform allows people a safe space to share their experiences while also enlightening those of us who can be naïve to the impact of race in aspects such as travel.”