June 28, 2022

Destination of the week

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nomadness1From India to Augill Castle: How Nomadness is changing perceptions of Black travel

By Evita Robinson From Mashable

In 2015, every single time I left the United States, I came back to news of a black killing or unlawful arrest of some kind. Landing home from a personal getaway to Honduras, I was greeted with the tragic story of Tony Terrell Robinson’s killing. Completion of my birthday trip to South Africa left me inundated with unavoidable playback footage of the Walter Scott shooting.

A week later was Freddie Gray.

It seems endless. I am more frequently left questioning myself: Are these shootings happening more often? Or, are we just more aware because of social media? Who knows. The one thing I can answer is that it’s made the Nomadness Travel Tribe’s mission all the more evident: We need a balance to how Black Americans are represented to the rest of the world.

We are flipping the script through our representations in travel. Enter our London Castle Nomadness trip.

nomadness3I started Nomadness in September of 2011, not realizing an urban travel movement was at my fingertips. Starting with a mere 100 members gathered from my Facebook friends, it’s now grown to more than 10,000. Largely made up of African-American women, the group spearheaded the start of social media showcasing diverse millennials globetrotting.

In the beginning, the mission was simple: Be the online hub for innovation in the urban travel space. While we still do that 24/7, the world we live in is changing, as is our role in it. It’s always been our underlying mission to show our demographic in places you never see us, doing things society says we don’t do, and doing it with like-minded travelers that cross every section of the Earth.

Personally, I’m taking this responsibility all the more seriously because of the state of Black America. It’s our mission of changing perceptions.

Nomadness is known for its international group trips — Panama, India, Samoa, South Africa, to name a few — and in three years we’ve organized more than 20 adventures.

We’ve done so much, but May’s London trip to Augill Castle was poignant in timing and experience.

augillAugill is a quaint castle, nestled in the Cumbria area of the United Kingdom. Far from any popular city limits, it takes approximately five hours to drive there from London. Arguably, its most charming attribute isn’t its endless halls or colossal bedrooms — it’s the owners. A family of four bought the castle almost two decades ago and now run it like a bed and breakfast. In Nomadness fashion, we booked the entire castle grounds and made it our own.

“I have to say that I went to the Castle with preconceived notions about the wealthy, probably eclectic and maybe ‘stuck-up’ owners of the castle,” said Rosalyn Barbour, a Nomadness member that attended the trip. “I mean, who would own a castle? It had to have been passed down from your very rich family, right?”

We were pleasantly surprised to find that the family who owns the castle was comprised of a down-to-Earth couple who purchased it as an investment nearly two decades ago. They now run the premises like a bed and breakfast.

Three years and over twenty Nomadness trips later, the truth is, I never know how we are going to be received when we walk through the door. I never know how we are going to be received when we walk through the door. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that some countries worry me more than others. There are nuances to being a Black traveler: Many of our Black American travelers are more comfortable (and statistically speaking, safer) in countries other than our own at the moment. It’s a reality we bare, take with us, and try to seek refuge from anytime we can.

Nomadness is about changing the story through experiences and social media. We own our own narrative of travels to the Holi Festival of Colors, the running of the bulls, the Taj Mahal and more, as we document through our social media channels, and more recently our travel web series “NOMADNESS Project”, executive produced by Issa Rae.

On this specific trip, it was us — sixteen nomads in Augill Castle — making history for the castle grounds (and probably the town) as the first large group of Black travelers they had ever hosted.

“As a black woman who grew up in the U.S., I have developed a hyper-sensitivity to racism and I would be lying if I said that I don’t experience unease when I travel to places with little to no minority population,” said member LaRhonda Turner-Franco. “Whether justified or not, it is always my initial reaction. When I stepped off the train in Kirby Stephen, Great Britain, I had no idea what to expect nor how I would be received by this beautiful place or its people.”

LaRhonda continued:

“After the [masquerade] dinner and festivities we all sat around the foyer where the topic of race vs. class came up. We had the pleasure of enticing castle owner, Simon, into the conversation. He mentioned that people in England were more concerned with class than they were with race.

Growing up in America, it was hard for me to believe Simon, when he said he didn’t see race. I’m so used to living in a culture where people see my race first before anything else that it simply felt unfathomable to my racially ingrained mind the he could see me for anything other than Black first. Who knew this was possible?

I went to bed that night feeling hopeful that perhaps England could be one of those better places for blacks for which so many have been searching.”

Though we’ll never know the full truth in that sentiment, the way to explore further is through travel. There is permission in the “seeing” that fuels the Nomadness movement. Through social media channels and the web series, we give permission to ourselves and future urban travelers to reach outside of your comfort zone. Get on that plane, even when your friends cancel. Apply for that teaching gig abroad, even if it scares you.

I always offer the advice in my keynotes: “Put the fear in your back pocket long enough to just get on the damn plane.” “Put the fear in your back pocket long enough to just get on the damn plane.” We’re saying “We are doing this, and you can, too,” to upcoming generations of urban travelers.

Nomadness is chartering the path, clearing the trail, and giving the green light to those groups that have come up after it. Following the leader isn’t always a bad thing, when the leader is altruistic, and the movement is necessary. Ownership isn’t merely a position, but a responsibility that has to be tended to.

It’s about changing perceptions, from Machu Picchu to Angkor Wat to Augill Castle.

Evita Robinson is the creator of the 10,000+ member international urban travel group Nomadness Travel Tribe and worldwide troublemaker.

Augill Castle, where Nomadness traveled in spring 2015.IMAGE: FLICKR, MOOHCOWH
At the Augill Castle in the UK, May 2015. IMAGE: STEPHEN YATES, DERWENT PHOTOGRAPHY

For more on this story go to: http://mashable.com/2015/07/22/nomadness-travel/?utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Mashable+%28Mashable%29&utm_cid=Mash-Prod-RSS-Feedburner-All-Partial&utm_medium=feed&utm_source=feedburner&utm_content=Google+Feedfetcher

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