Sunday, February 27, 2011

American Airlines Receives Top 25 Diversity Council Honors

Inner City Orchestra of Los Angeles -ICYOLA

Association of Diversity Councils Recognizes American for Workplace Diversity

American Airlines African American Employee Resource Group LAX Chapter
(right) Joyce Darthard-Perkins Chairperson of LAX AAERG Executive Board
For the third consecutive year, American Airlines is a recipient of the Diversity Council Honors Award™ from the Association of Diversity Councils, which recognizes companies for outstanding achievements in demonstrating workplace diversity. American was the sole airline to be listed as having one of the nation's top 25 diversity councils.
Earvin "Magic" Johnson
Chairman & CEO Magic Johnson Enterprises

"We are extremely proud to see this recognition of our Diversity Advisory Council and the tremendous leadership it provides – not only its support of our ongoing inclusion efforts, but also in addressing business challenges," said Lauri Curtis, American's Vice President of Diversity, Leadership and Engagement Strategies. "We know from experience that none of us is as powerful and effective as all of us working together. While it's important to be inclusive and value diversity because it's the right thing to do, the results also prove that it is very good for business. Diversity and inclusion are among American's fundamental values, and we are honored that ours is again among the nation's top 25 diversity councils."
David Campbell (left)
Vice President Safety Security & Environmental

Curtis noted that American strives to create an environment where each employee's unique experience, perspectives and ideas are encouraged and valued. "At American Airlines, we are energized by our global and diverse workforce," she added. "We are dedicated not only to advancing matters of equality and inclusion, but to supporting and celebrating them."

Earvin "Magic" Johnson receives AAERG "Academy Award"
The Diversity Council Honors Awards program distinguishes corporate diversity councils that lead diversity processes in organizations and demonstrate results in their workforce, workplace and marketplace. Winners' rankings will be announced at an awards dinner and ceremony in Atlanta on April 5.

Chairperson Joseph Huggins (left)
& AAERG Chicago Chapter
"This is the third year that American Airlines has received the Diversity Council Honors Award," said Janice E. Bowman, Practice Leader – Association of Diversity Councils. "American Airlines is the undisputed leader in setting the standards for excellence for diversity council groups from within the air transportation industry by helping to raise the visibility and importance of the work of diversity and inclusion councils on a national level. The leadership of American Airlines is also recognized for their commitment and support of the important work and success of their council."

Skychi & Sandra Finely
Pres & CEO
League of Black Women
Skychi & Selena Cuffe
AA Diversity Supplier
Pres. & CEO
Heritage Brands, LLC

A Diversity Committee within the AMR Corporation Board of Directors provides oversight of American and American Eagle Airlines diversity initiatives. Company initiatives include fostering minority business growth and supplier diversity, as well as supporting employee involvement in a broad range of diversity-related programs and organizations.

Michael Collins
Managing Director
Diversity Strategies

A dedicated Diversity Strategies organization leads development of diversity priorities and goals, and works with operating management to implement forward-thinking initiatives.

The company's employees provide valuable input for business decisions through 16 Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), which reflect customers, suppliers and the community. These groups have made significant contributions across many areas of the company, from community involvement to educational functions, as well as lending their expertise to planning for international routes and helping to promote enrollment in the AAdvantage® program, American's loyalty program.

Skychi & Varita Shelton-"My Barbados"

The ERGs are linked by the Diversity Advisory Council, which meets regularly and promotes the company's belief in the effectiveness of working together. Council activities and accomplishments have included:

AAERG "Goes Hollywood"

  • Collaboration with oneworld® partners to provide cultural expertise to joint business alliances
  • Translations and media talent for American's communications, marketing and advertising departments
  • Ongoing support of "Operation Mobility," which offers service improvements for customers with disabilities
  • Assistance as a focus group to help develop messages tailored to specific employee and customer groups
Sabrenda Clifton AAERG DAC Representative

In addition, the Council has provided cultural perspectives for updates to American's uniform and appearance standards, and offered presentations to flight attendant groups regarding faith-based traditions.
American also has strong partnerships with national and local advocacy organizations that promote equality and advancement for under-represented groups.
For more information about Diversity and Inclusion at American Airlines, please visit

American Airlines Flight Attendant serving South African Wine
At Diversity Supplier Reception

Wine Tasting by Selena Cuffe
Founder/CEO of Heritage Link Brands LLC
American Airlines Flight Attendant serving
Strawberry & Honey South African Wines

AAERG Chicago Chairperson Joseph Huggins at
Wine Tasting Reception at Brasserie

About American Airlines
American Airlines, American Eagle and the AmericanConnection® carrier serve 250 cities in 40 countries with, on average, more than 3,400 daily flights. The combined network fleet numbers more than 900 aircraft. American's award-winning® website provides users with easy access to check and book fares, plus personalized news, information and travel offers.

American Airlines is a founding
member of the oneworld® Alliance, which brings together some of the best and biggest names in the airline business, enabling them to offer their customers more services and benefits than any airline can provide on its own. Together, its members serve approximately 750 destinations in nearly 150 countries and territories. American Airlines, Inc. and American Eagle Airlines, Inc. are subsidiaries of AMR Corporation. AmericanAirlines, American Eagle, AmericanConnection,, and AAdvantage are trademarks of American Airlines, Inc. (NYSE: AMR)

AAERG Academy Awards Reception

Thursday, February 24, 2011


This one is from Machu Picchu in Peru and includes my husband, Ish. 
Heather Greenwood Davis
Columnist and Freelance Writer
1. What message do have for students who want to travel? 
GO NOW. HOWEVER YOU CAN; BACKPACK, WORK ABROAD, RICH PARENTS. :) You will never have as much time to travel as you will as a student. Make the most of it.  
2. What are your childhood memories of travel ? 
My parents insisted on an annual vacation. We couldn't necessarily afford to jet set with a family of 5 but road trips were a staple. I have fantastic memories of being in cars surrounded by cousins headed to see more family somewhere else. Although my kids have traveled extensively, I think they miss out in not having cousins they can hang with like that. It taught me a lot about the importance of just being with family. 
3. Where did you dream of traveling when you were a child? 
Everywhere seemed further as a kid. I remember California and New York were places on my list. Africa was so "not going to ever happen" I didn't even dream about it. For me travel dreams were always more about the people I'd be with than the destination per se. 

Heather in front of Buckingham Palace

4. Did you travel as a child? Yup. (see above) :)
5. What did you learn as a child about the expectation for black people to travel?
I grew up in Canada and whether it was the country or my parents, it never occurred to me that there wasn't anywhere I couldn't go.  I believe my kids are growing up with the same beliefs. 
6. Did you admire or know of any Black people that traveled when you were a child? 
Just my family. 

Heather with her son Ethan

7. Why should Black people travel?
Because we're human beings and that means we have family all over this amazing planet just like everyone else. Because it opens our eyes to possibilities you didn't even know existed and expands our dream potential. Because the world is too small not to see it all. 
8. What was your first trip?
My first trip on my own was to St. Petersburg Florida.
9. How did you plan for it? Online.
I found a great package deal and added a car rental. I was about 22 at the time.
10. What was your experience there?
I loved it. Solo travel felt empowering and knowing I could go wherever I wanted, do whatever I wanted and do it all when I wanted fuelled my love of travel. 
a) positive experience -learning to eat alone in a restaurant and be okay with it
b) negative experience- realizing I was going to have to be in charge of my own safety. It turned into a positive and made me a better traveler.  

Heather feeding Kangaroos

11. Was your travel experience what you expected? and more.
12. How is your travel experience as a Black traveler different from what you perceive as a White traveler? 
I'm rarely aware of a difference. Again, I think it's due to upbringing and place of birth. Also, my focus has never been on what another traveler, whatever their race, is doing. I hope they're getting as much out of their experience as I am out of mine. The one place where it felt really different to be experiencing travel as a Black person was Africa. There I wasn't a traveler, it felt more like a homecoming. I can't wait to go back. 
13. What is your voice as a Black travel blogger?
Authentically unique, guided by but not limited by my race. 

Heather at Winter Carnival with her son Cameron

14. Where do you dream of traveling now? Why?
My dream trip is about to take flight! I leave July 2011 for a one year around the world trip with my husband and two children. I'm not aware of another Black family who has done this (if you're out there let me know!) and I'm looking forward to all that it will bring us in terms of learning and experience.  We're blogging about the experience  (before, during and after) at and writing about it (I'm now a full-time freelance Travel Writer) for Canada's largest daily newspaper The Toronto Star and a host of other publications. 
15. Anything else you would like to add? 
Just that I hope people will read your interviews and reach out if they have questions. Travel has changed my perspective of the world in a positive way. I wish that for more people. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

"Your travel will be more enjoyable if you think about the things you enjoy most."

My trip to Ecuador. The only touristy thing I i did was get a picture taken of me with one foot in the northern hemisphere and the other foot in the southern hemisphere.

Hanging out in PerĂº's black community of El Carmen.

Bill Smith  
Oakland, CA

1. What message do have for students who want to travel?
Your travel will be more enjoyable if you think about the things you enjoy most. For example, I travel to like PerĂº and Cuba because I enjoy their music.

2. What are your childhood memories of travel ?
My father had me traveling since I was a child. He not only took us around New York City where I was raised, but to other states and two Canadian provinces.

3. Where did you dream of traveling when you were a child?
Spain, because I started teaching myself Spanish out of a children's library book; not realizing there were more than 15 Spanish-speaking countries in the Americas.

4. Did you travel as a child?
See #2---geez, what's with all these childhood questions?

Riding a bicycle taxi in Havana, Cuba.

5. What did you learn as a child about the expectation for black people to
My father wanted me to be different from your average black by being exposed to travel. He always lamented that most black people in Harlem, where I grew up, never been out of the city.

6. Did you admire or know of any Black people that traveled when you were a
Only a few! --geez, what's with all these questions about childhood? I'm getting weary of this.

7. Why should Black people travel?
More exposure to the world; a broader awareness. I know too many black people who don't get out of the communities, let alone their hometown. There are too many blacks who see Africa as a one big country and not a continent containing many different cultures, languages, and “colors” other than black.

The block where I stayed in Cartagena Colombia.

8. What was your first trip?
My first domestic trip was from New York to Los Angeles. My first international trip was to Montreal.

9. How did you plan for it?
I wound up on Los Angeles as a result of parent rivalry, separation, and divorce. My father planned the trip to Montreal for a Thanksgiving vacation.

10. What was your experience there?
a) positive experience -
People in Montreal were very nice to us visiting Americans. It was interesting to see a foreign experience.

b) negative experience-
In Los Angeles, I got a taste of how children feel when they are dumped into childcare by busy parents. There was nothing negative about Montreal.

11. Was your travel experience what you expected?

12. How is your travel experience as a Black traveler different from what
you perceive as a White traveler?
These days, I pride myself in being a different type of traveler. Because I'm constantly working to improve my Spanish, I avoid touristy hotels and activities. I mix right in with the locals as much as possible, especially in black communities of Latin America.
Passing through El Salvador

13. What is your voice as a Black travel blogger?
African American-Latin World
I expose to the world the history and experience of black people in Latin American communities here and abroad.

14. Where do you dream of traveling now? Why?
My next trip is not a dream. I'm going to Venezuela in December and spend some time in their black community, then blog about it.

Monday, February 21, 2011

"Be Prepared To Have Your Life Change!"

Quinette Free

 Quinette at the Taj Mahal, Agra, India

1. What message do have for students who want to travel?
     Just GO!!, Do what you have to do to get out there and do it and be prepared to have your life change.

2. What are your childhood memories of travel ?
   I grew up without much money, so the extend of my travel was the Greyhound bus to Blakely, Georgia to see my relatives.   I grew up around the navy and lived in a neighborhood of mixed races of Navy families who was always coming from somewhere different.

3. Where did you dream of traveling when you were a child?
    I dreamed of traveling to all of the continents.  I loved animals as a kids and I wanted to see all of the animals I watched on Wild Kingdom.

Koala and Baby in the wild, Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia

4. Did you travel as a child?
    Just to Blakely, Georgia, although my mom did squeeze out enough money for me to travel a few hours south to go to Girl Scout camp.

5. What did you learn as a child about the expectation for black people to travel?
    Nothing.  My mother was the ONLY person in my entire extended family to have left home when she moved to NYC.  Travel according to my family was something White folks did, as was a variety of other things.

6. Did you admire or know of any Black people that traveled when you were a child?
  Not at all.

7. Why should Black people travel?
   Part of the education process.  I think we have falling way behind in the US and even if you don't have the education to lift you up, I believe travel will make you seek out education.  In return, education as a race will put us head to head with the dominant culture in America.  In many ways, ahead, because we know to be equal, we have to be better and if we have travel under our belt, we can spill out beyond American shores, where many are afraid to go.
8. What was your first trip?
    My first trip ever was to visit my college roomates in Chicago.  My first trip out of the country was to Cuba.

9. How did you plan for it?
    By reading everything I could about Cuba.  I booked through a Canadian travel agency, but the itinerary was all my idea.

10. What was your experience there?
a) positive experience -  It was great seeing a country that Americans are forbidden to go and to see it in all of its non-capitalistic glory was amazing.  I felt like I had discovered a jewel that most people will never get to see.  Even if we are allowed to go someday, it won't be the same Cuba that I was blessed to see.  It was also and opportunity to see where my friends parent grew up.
b) negative experience- Being Black and speaking Spanish pretty well, many thought I was Cuban and Cubans are not allowed in hotels and restaurants for tourists.  I got glared and stared at everywhere I went, which since this was my first trip, caught me a bit off guard.  The friendly Cubans that everyone spoke of was not apparent at first, but came once they got to talk to me.

11. Was your travel experience what you expected?
     It was better as Cuba was more beautiful than I imagined.  The poverty was a bit sad, but the people are proud and work hard.  It never seemed as though you were getting hustled like you feel sometimes in Asia.

12. How is your travel experience as a Black traveler different from what you perceive as a White traveler?
Since many places rarely see Black travelers, what they know of us is from rap music or Black movies like "Boyz in da Hood".  I cannot tell you how many times I had gang signs flashed at me or someone playing offensive rap music because they thought I would like it.  Also places like China, where the don't see many Blacks, I was literally stopping traffic because I am Big and Black.  People were pulling over to the side of the road to point me out or flashing their fingers as the were trying to guess my weight in kilos.  I think in other countries, everything that makes America GREAT, is all White, to the point of seeing whitening cream (mostly sold by American companies) on just about every shelf in places I traveled in Asia.
13. What is your voice as a Black travel blogger?
   My blog started out as a therapeutic writing tool as I was traveling and not specific to being Black.  I am not a Black traveler who wants to go to a place and stay with only Black people, I think that diminishes the travel experience.  But I do like learning about Black people in a place I travel.  For instance, when I went to Norway, there were Black people, and I loved learning what brought them there but to go to Norway and only learn about Black Norwegians would be a gross misrepresentation of the country.  Does that make sense?

I don't want people traveling to the US and only thinking that America is all White or any one ANYTHING. Recognize that the same regional considerations you would make for other countries, also apply to us. Plus multiply the number of people in America by its racial diversity, you get a very unique equation. I want travelers to go away with a sense of diversity, that this "Gumbo" which is America, while made in a one pot, every spice and ingredient has its own distinct flavor that adds something special to dish?

14. Where do you dream of traveling now? Why?
   Back to my special spot on the island of Koh Tao in Thailand.  I just connected with the right mixture of Western/Foreign but very Thai surrounded by miles of beautiful beaches and great diving.  Also South America and Antarctica to finish all 7 continents.

Sairee Beach, Koh Tao, Thailand

15. Anything else you would like to add?

Zurich, Switzerland

Pilgrims at Lourdes, France
When I moved from Florida to New York City, I constantly compared EVERYTHING to Florida.  Then one day someone said "Hey! Guess what? You are NOT in Florida anymore!"  That changed my thinking from that point on and I was able to truly enjoy NYC.  I find people do that with travel.
They bargain or relate to people in a place because of how they did it at home or in a place that they loved.  Because they are comparing this new place to another, they are not "getting" the nuances and understanding the culture as it should be understood.

I was so culture shocked when I got to Asia, I was miserable.  By the end of my stay, I had fallen in love with this unlikely place.  And to think I almost bypassed the whole continent.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Celebrate Black History with Black Atlas

Black Atlas is an American Airlines social media website to connect to African American travelers.
Nelson George is the Travel Expert-at-large for Black Nelson George produces travel videos which showcase the Black History of local and international destinations.

I have watched his travel videos for a specific destination, then I visit those places to enjoy the experience for myself. I love "Nelson George's Inside Scoop".  He provides a visual Black Perspective to to places that Black people talk about among themselves.

Black Travel is pretty much word of mouth. When I travel to a  new city sometimes I want to experience the  black culture of that city.  I look for a black hotel receptionist, bus driver, hotel shuttle bus driver or hotel door man. I ask, "Where do black people go here?" They have been my greatest resource for some amazing travel experiences. Now Black Atlas provides  Black Travel Guide Videos to the Black culture and history from cities around the world.

Black Atlas
"The Passport to the Black Experience"

Neslon George takes you on a tour of Black History in Los Angeles with Black Atlas.

Los Angeles is the site of the AAERG 11th Annual Convention celebration of Black History Month.
Check out my blog post on NBA All-Star Magic Johnson Goes Hollywood with AAERG! I am hoping to tour some of the Black Historic sites that Nelson George mentioned in his Los Angeles travel guide.
I look at the Los Angeles skyline with a great sense of pride knowing that a Black architect named Paul R. Williams helped to design the cityscape.

Kiratiana the editor of  Black Atlas features a Black History Month Profile on Black Travel Bloggers.  Kiratiana talks to Jay, the King of Black Travel Bloggers in this article Black History Month Profile: Jay of . Kiratiana and Jay both competed for the Black Weblog Awards for the Best Travel Blog category. Jay of won the honor of Best Black Travel Blog.

Jay of
Black Atlas is a great resource for planning your next trip to a local or international destination with a  Black History point of view.

Friday, February 18, 2011

"Parading the Dream of Diversity" by Cheryl Robinson

American Airlines

HR Messenger
Cheryl Robinson
I traveled to Tulsa, Okla., with an assignment to cover the city's legendary Martin Luther King Day Parade; an annual tradition for our Tulsa Airport and Base Maintenance employees.

I was all set to write about the Business of Diversity, but after spending time with our colleagues who worked to make sure AA was well represented in the parade, I'm compelled to tell you about the Diversity of a Dream. I never imagined how many stories this single event would unfold, including the surprising American Airlines connection.

On the day of the parade the temperature hovered around 35 degrees. Thank God, there was no snow. Growing up in Buffalo, New York, I've trudged through the cold and snow before for less worthy causes. But this time I couldn't help but think of the obstacles those before me trudged through to get here. My journey consisted of a 45-minute American Airlines flight. The flight of generations before consisted of marches, protest and death, in hopes an African-American woman, like myself, can stand here today representing an airline aptly called American.

The MLK Society selected "Honoring our Heritage and Inspiring Change" for this year's parade theme. The American Airlines float featured pictures of several past and present African American inventors, writers, musicians, entertainers canvassed on a beautifully decorated U.S. flag. Then came the booming voice over the loud speaker of Dr. King reciting his moving, "I Have a Dream" speech. As I surveyed the crowd of on-lookers and participants, a rainbow of races, colors, ethnicities, gender, religion, life situations and generations, I realized this was the diversity dream Dr. King talked about. These were the dream weavers.

Honoring Our Heritage and Inspiring Change
- see how Tulsa employees carry the message each year in the city's annual MLK Day parade
When we rounded the street corner there was one particular on-looker that stood out. As the float passed by I saw an elderly woman overcome with emotion, sobbing uncontrollably, oblivious to her own spectators, nor did she care. I could feel her pain, her sorrow and the joy that lay beneath. Her presence was so intensely moving that I clutched my heart. Instinctively, I knew this was no ordinary parade reveler. She was here because she was a dream maker. She represented my father, my mother, my grandmother, my great-grandfather, my teacher and so many more. Anyone who helped me achieve my present reality.

In this rare moment, I got it. Yet, in the telling words of my friend and colleague who just happens to be Caucasian commenting on the civil rights struggle, "I get it, I may not get it like you get it, but I get it ?" The same honest sentiment owed to all "I Have a Dream" visionaries.

Sadly, Dr. King died with his dream in his heart. He was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn., on April 4, 1968, at the age of 39. I recently learned that American Airlines transported the remains of Dr. King home in the passenger cabin of a Lockheed Electra. I take pride in knowing that I am a product of a dreamer. Also, I'm proud to say that I am an American Airlines employee.

Maybe American Airlines is not a perfect airline, nor are we perfect employees. But what AA represents is the business of being American, and extending that to our global environment, a citizen of the world.

A place where not only dreams of diversity come true, but futures do too.

By Cheryl Robinson

Thursday, February 17, 2011

5 Tips for First Time Flyers

The wanderlust winds have blown me to LA. This is an unexpected trip to help my niece find herself in life. My niece dreams of becoming  an actress so she enrolled herself in acting school. Her mother who is ill had her call me with help for her ticket to Los Angeles, CA. My niece had never flown on an airplane so I looked at this as an opportunity to give back. I believe in encouraging others to travel. This is my chance to teach someone personally how to travel.

I flew to Richmond, VA to meet her for her first flight. I called her on the phone several times giving her instructions on what to say to the ticket agent, how to check-in her luggage, what to pack in her backpack, what to pack in her checked luggage, and how to go through security.

These are the five tips that I gave my niece on how to prepare to fly her first flight.

1. What to say to the ticket agent: "I am checking in for a flight to Chicago at 2:10 pm." Then show your identification. (State where you are going and the time the flight leaves, and a flight number is possible)

2. How to check-in her luggage: "I am checking two bags to LA."  I told her the airport code for Los Angeles which is "LAX". I instructed her to look at the bag tags to make sure she sees "LAX" on her bags. (To lookup a city's airport code check out

3.What to pack in her backpack: I advised her to carry an change of clothes. I also told her that she could not carry liquids through security. (TSA: How to Get Through the Line Faster)

4. What to pack in her checked luggage: I suggested that she pack her toothpaste, deodorant and other large toiletries items in her checked luggage. If she had travel size toiletries item those should be in a plastic bag. (TSA: 3-1-1 on Air Travel)

5. How to go through security: I instructed my niece to take off her coat, shoes and backpack to put in bins. The movie "Up in The Air" shows George Clooney in the security is a funny scene. It is a how to go through the security line lesson for first time flyers.

I land Richmond airport to find no niece at the gate. Then I see her in the security line finishing off a bottle of water which she is not allowed to bring to security. She said I forgot to tell her that she couldn't bring bottled water through security. Oh well, I tried to think of everything.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

NBA All-Star Magic Johnson Goes Hollywood with AAERG!

Earvin "Magic" Johnson
American Airlines African American Employee Resource Group is "Going Hollywood" with Earvin "Magic" Johnson at the 11th Annual AAERG Convention.

 "AAERG has become a vital component of AMR Corporation since 1996. The group values professional development and community involvement, but also recognizes that African Americans contribute close to a trillion dollars to the economy. We believe that American Airlines can position itself as a preferred airline within the African American community by utilizing employees to enhance marketing and outreach efforts."

I am proud to be part of a company that values Diversity & Inclusion.  American Airlines has received numerous awards and recognitions. One recent award is the 2011 Diversity Leader Award.

2011 Diversity Award

"Diversity Leader Award – This award is given to organizations that share their stories with readers on a regular basis and offer profiles of their thought leaders. American Airlines is recognized as an organization that demonstrates its continued commitment toward diverse culture through its ongoing communications with Profiles in Diversity Journal."

American Airlines shares stories with readers through the American Way Magazine and American Eagle Latitudes Magazine. One of their most recent features was Celebrating Black History Month with Jennifer Hudson on the cover. Please read my blog article Celebrate Black History Month with Jennifer Hudson.

I will be celebrating  Black History Month by attending  the AAERG 11th Annual Convention in LAX. This is a two day event is for American Airlines employees to develop professional skills and network.  The keynote speakers is Earvin "Magic" Johnson,  a NBA All-Star and owner of Magic Johnson Enterprises. Another featured speaker is Sandra Finely, President and CEO of the League of Black Women. I am looking forward to meeting them. I invite other American Airlines employees to join me. 

If you are interested in working for American Airlines or American Eagle a top Diversity Company, then visit to apply for open positions.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

For those of us who are visual learners- traveling is first class!

Mike and DeeDee at Tijuca National Park in Rio 2010

DeeDee Webb

1.      What message do have for students who want to travel?

 I am a visual learner and I am inquisitive by nature.  The best history lesson you will ever have is traveling…period….no book can inspire to appreciate life as much as traveling!

For those of us who are visual learners - traveling is first class EVAH!

2.      What are your childhood memories of travel ?

We never ventured past the Texas border.

3. Where did you dream of traveling when you were a child?
  Because my family never discussed their travels or desires to travel, I grew up dreaming Houston was it!

3.      Did you travel as a child?


4.      What did you learn as a child about the expectation for black people to travel?

We just didn’t do it – it was never discussed.

DeeDee on the way  to Rio Platforma Show

5.      Did you admire or know of any Black people that traveled when you were a child?


6.      Why should Black people travel?

For the cultural and rich experience of seeing “us”.  Far too many Europeans have a negative history of Black America.  At times – dare I say, their ignorance shows. But for Black America – we need to stop saying…”Oh chile, I travels [sic]” just because they go to Jamaica, a cruise or the Caribbean. Those places are nice, but after you come from the beach, what is it to do?  Jump the pond and wave at the queen, rub elbows at Versailles, say hey to Napoleon, climb the Eiffel tower, tour the coliseum, the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel! (Yes, I’ve done all that)

Versailles, France 2005 Royal Bedroom

7.      What was your first Trip?

 My very first trip was to the Bahamas, celebrating my 40th birthday!
8.      How did you plan for it?

Actually, it was a cruise, organized by a friend.

9.      What was your experience there?

  positive experience – I’m not sure if I can say I like the Bahamas because it was a cruise and you are somewhat limited by what you can do – but overall, it was okay.

 negative experience – it was interesting when we got off the cruise ship in the Bahamas.  The school children and braid vendors went straight for my white friend and passed me up completely. See what I mean?  We need to get people used to the idea that Black American’s can travel and we can be a source of revenue for locals.

10.  Was your travel experience what you expected?

 No because I found out that I wasn’t a cruise person or a beach person.  Better to experienced something, than nothing at all….right?

Mike at Rio Platforma Show 2010

11.  How is your travel experience as a Black traveler different from what you perceive as a White traveler?

 I will tell you a story.  I was in Paris in 2005, two weeks before the Riots started when the two African youths were chased by police and in order to escape jumped a fence and were electrocuted.  I was walking down the Seine just before the Latin Quarter.  I passed a restaurant that many individuals has crossed and suddenly out of nowhere, this big black dog lunged at me growling.  The owner came out and secured the animal and apologized, but I looked around at everyone that had passed before me and they were white.  I came to my own conclusion that the dog was trained to attack people of color.  Say what you want, but after 6 years, that is still fresh on my mind. 

DeeDee in front of famous Black American Author, James Baldwin's Apartment Paris, France 2005

  Second a White travel writer or vacationer, never gets into the African American experience when traveling.  They seldom venture or plan trips to where they can experience or learn about black culture in other countries – unless it’s for TV, a humanitarian “look at me” expedition or the African safari. 

12.  What is your voice as a Black travel blogger?

 My voice says, it can be done, it must be done and this is how I did it! Traveling should never hurt you physically, mentally or financially.  I make a financial deal with myself to never spend more than 3K when traveling to Europe.  I am not a bourgeois-ghetto type chick.  I stay in B&B, apartments, dorm rooms, or simple accommodations (never hostels).  I take the public transportation and if I don’t pay retail in Houston, then I won’t pay it abroad.  I tell all my friends you can go almost anywhere in the world for less than 3K, if you plan it right.  I have not broke my ritual yet!

Beginning of Rio Platforma  Show

13.  Where do you dream of traveling now? Why?

  My next trip will be in shorter stages.  Since I’ve gotten used to travels in Europe, I am a little bit more comfortable in my efforts to see as much as I can.  My next trip is as follows: 
                                                  i.      1.5 days:    London – probably the last time – if God say the same.
                                                ii.      1.5 days:    Paris – never the last time – this is my European home.
                                              iii.      1 day:        Milan – see the “Last Supper” – nothing else I want to see.
                                              iv.      2 days:       Venice – never been
                                                v.      ½ day:       Pisa – Leaning Tower next to the train station, jump on/jump
off/jump on!
                                              vi.      ½ day:       Pompeii:  Mt. Vesuvius – told it was worth the trip
                                            vii.      2 days:       Rome: Tour the coliseum this time and party!

14.  Anything else you would like to add?

  Check out my travel website…  It’s not entirely finished, it’s a work in progress, but I love it!

DeeDee and Mike in front of Jesus