Black Culture, Identity, and Travel: Our Community Shares Their Stories

Black Culture, Identity, and Travel: Our Community Shares Their Stories

As we celebrate Black History Month this February, we want to share personal stories and spotlight voices from across our Remote Year community.

Our community currently represents 3,000+ remote working professionals from over 50 nationalities, and we are proud to celebrate these cultures as we explore the world and grow together.

We reached out to Remote Year program participants and team members currently based in the USA (New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Chicago, Maryland) Mexico, (Playa del Carmen), Bulgaria (Varna), and Spain (Valencia) to learn how traveling internationally has impacted their perspectives of the Black experience. 

From connecting with a group of Black women over cherry blossoms in Japan to learning about local culture and traditions in Uganda, today we share 9 unique viewpoints on exploring the world and sharing Black culture and identity through travel.

Tiffany Green

Tiffany Green Ethnicity: African-American Current location: Brooklyn, New York, USA Multiple Remote Year Programs

Were there any specific experiences on your Remote Year program where you felt particularly connected to your culture?

I remember connecting with a group of Black women within Remote Year during a month in Japan. It was amazing because it’s so beautiful during cherry blossom season. Experiencing the food, architecture, art, royal gardens, and temples, with beautiful like-minded women was unforgettable. We definitely stood out in the crowd of cherry blossom trees.

What would you tell other Black travelers considering joining a Remote Year program?

I recommend to everyone, RY was a life-changing experience. I became more interesting as a person, more well versed in wine, food, adventure, and global history. I faced my fear of heights in Colombia, deep water diving in Thailand, and speaking to new people in Mexico City. I really didn't have time to think about racial problems in this world and it was refreshing.

Joshua Best

Joshua Best Ethnicity: Caribbean-American Current location: Cape Town, South Africa Community Manager, Remote Year

How important is it to bring your culture/identity to other nations as you travel? 

As a minority, we often carry the burden of feeling like we have to represent our entire race, ethnicity, or nationality every time we step out of the house. In the United States, this is perpetually tiresome, but in other countries, I'm able to embrace the opportunity to challenge a lack of exposure with genuine cross-cultural conversations. Representing your culture as you travel is the perfect way to break barriers.

Kristin Parran

Kristin Parran Ethnicity: African American Current location: Chicago, Illinois, USA 12-month Journey, World

How has international travel impacted your perspective of the Black experience?

My experience was different in each country and learning about the experiences of other Black people from various countries while on the road was powerful. It was truly humbling to spend time living in a small village in Uganda and learning more about its beautiful culture and traditions as an adopted member of the community. The experience has forever altered the way I live my daily life. How important is it to bring your culture/identity to other nations as you travel?

I am proud when I have the opportunity to have discussions with others about our individual experiences and cultures. I also love it when I have the opportunity to “give flowers” to Black individuals that make amazing contributions to this world. Speaking their names and stories is my way of honoring their respective legacies.

Kiana Wilson Ethnicity: African American Current location: Los Angeles, California, USA 12-month Journey, World

Can you tell us more about your experience traveling the world as a Black person?

If I can be completely shallow for a moment, being called beautiful in a dozen languages was pretty fierce. The amount of attention that I received on some days made me feel like Beyonce (or Michelle Obama as I was referred to once in Morocco) whereas other days, you would have thought I was walking around with 2 heads. Finding the right haircare products and toiletries that didn't contain bleaching agents became a monthly ritual, and I was successful for the most part. Never ashy, and the coils were poppin’. Spotting other Black people around the world and getting that familiar head nod, or more often than not, a big hug with the tight squeeze was everything I needed to feel at home.

How important is it to bring your culture/identity to other nations as you travel?

HUGE. The misrepresentation that we deal with is bad enough in the US, but knowing that the world's idea of who we are as Black people is so skewed is very disheartening. It's infuriating actually. So representing and giving people a taste of WHY Black people are the blueprint is a huge deal for me.

Clayton Nelson Ethnicity: Black (African-American) Current location: On a Remote Year Program in Valencia, Spain Community Leader, Remote Year

How important is it to bring your culture/identity to other nations as you travel? 

Being able to be Black in every space that I'm in is vital, particularly because my culture and identity transcend borders. I hear black music, taste black food, see black style and witness black influence everywhere I go. People make room for me to share what's new as eagerly as I open myself up to new experiences in other countries.

Chimdi Ihezie

Chimdi Ihezie Ethnicity: Black Current location: Maryland, USA 12-month Journey, World

How has international travel impacted your perspective of the Black experience?‍

I remember realizing in Europe why I wasn't seeing many Black people -- that's not where we're from! It was the first time I understood that even my idea of what "international travel" looks like has been filtered through the dominant white lens of my country, and that to be an intentional traveler would mean re-evaluating everything I had been taught. I'm grateful for that experience and for the inspiration it gave me moving forward!

Were there any specific experiences on your Remote Year program where you felt particularly connected to your culture?

Traveling with other Black people was one of the highlights of my Remote Year experience. Being able to process what we were seeing and hearing and comparing our experiences (and the beautiful ways they were similar and diverged) from country to country was a real treat.

Alania Peck

Alania Peck Ethnicity: Caribbean-Canadian Current location: Varna, Bulgaria Community Success Lead, Remote Year

Can you tell us more about your experience traveling the world as a Black person?

As a woman of color, I am aware that racism, fetishism, and ignorant people exist, but I refuse to let that stop me from exploring the beauty of the world. Sometimes the stares and questions can be daunting and uncomfortable. A lot of the time it's people's curiosity more than anything else. They want to learn more about you and your culture. In some places you might be the first person of color they have ever seen, the "ambassador" factor is ever present, a burden, but also an opportunity. It isn't our job to educate, but I see it as a privilege to combat ignorance. 

Ricky Neal

Ricky Neal Ethnicity: Black (African-American) Current location: Atlanta, Georgia, USA 12-month Journey, World

How important is it to bring your culture/identity to other nations as you travel? 

Very important! I made sure to stay true to who I am the entire time while on my program. I think it's important for people to understand that "Black" is not "one-size-fits-all" and how truly diverse Black people are. As I said before, I stayed open to the idea of educating people about my culture or beliefs so when I did encounter situations where my culture or beliefs came up, it almost felt like a "skill swap" because I definitely had a ton of questions about other cultures and identities.

What would you tell other Black travelers considering joining a Remote Year program?

Do it! We already have enough things to worry about while traveling but Remote Year really sets you up for success while on the road. They alleviated the headache of finding a community, the cheapest flights, or the best places to stay. Also, don't be afraid to have tough conversations! You'll experience growth and gain new perspectives.


At Remote Year, we’re proud to celebrate Black history and culture not just in February, but every month as we explore the world together. Join our global community - check out our upcoming programs around the world. 

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