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  • Writer's picturejdc

Yes, We do Leave the United States

You might be familiar with the predominant narrative about the Black experience being one laden with trauma, harm and poverty. There is also a belief that we don't travel. Historically, travel for my people is well, complex. We were brought here, kept and sold as chattel. And if we ventured to leave our ‘homes’ the roads were full of sanctioned violence, danger and a lack of safe options to rest our bodies. And yet, for some of us, we were able to venture beyond the confines that others dictated for us.

I come from a family who travels both within the US and globally. My maternal grandmother did girls’ trips leaving Pittsburgh to visit New York City as well as taking cruises to the islands (e.g., Bahamas, Virgin Islands) in the 50’s. Both my parents went to college in states other than those in which they were born and grew up. And if we go all the way back, my ancestors on both sides left Virginia and resettled in parts north: Canada, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

So, not staying local is a familial norm.

Open Passport Book with stamps from varying countries
Open Passport Book with stamps from varying countries

Growing up I did the customary private school east coast historical trips to Washington, DC, New York, NY, and Williamsburg, VA (I know). We did family trips to the shore (New Jersey) and visited family in Virginia and parts of Pennsylvania.

It is probably important to note that in 1991, I drove alone (pre cell phone), relocating from Philadelphia, PA to Sacramento, CA. A few years later I moved to San Francisco, have lived in Sausalito, Alameda and the Richmond Annex and the last decade+ in San Rafael.

I took my first trip outside of the United States in graduate school with my Mom. It was a guided tour of Italy. Since then Mexico, Tanzania, England, France, Spain, Portugal, Canada, Aruba, Indonesia and the Netherlands. And within the US, there are four states I have yet to visit - Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota and North Dakota.

I haven’t been to nearly as many places as I will (my Mom has been everywhere but the North Pole, Antarctica and Greenland).

So, if you see us out and about, I invite you to turn your gaze and curiosity elsewhere.


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