Racism and Traveling: An Interview With An Expert
Last Minute Travel interviewed Jody Jacobs, an African American travel blogger from Louisiana, to discuss his story and the barriers, racial and non-racial, he has faced while traveling. En route to Morocco with some time to spare in Amsterdam, Jody was able to inspire us and to tell us about himself and racism on the road. If the fear of racism or prejudice has ever held you back from traveling, this interview may put you at ease.
Last Minute Travel: Tell us a little about yourself, your Instagram page, and how you got to where you are today.
Jody: My name is Jody Jacobs. I’m an Electrical Engineer who decided to take a leap of faith to leave corporate and open an insurance agency, who then decided to start consulting independently and travel the world as often as a could. The primary goal of my page is inspiration and motivation. I want people to be inspired to travel, as well as be confident in who they are and their dreams.
Whether I'm riding a wave or in a lull, I've learned to always find a path to center and realize whatever the circumstance (good or bad), it's fleeting. • Be grateful for the good and enjoy all that it offers, just never let it define who you are. Likewise, embrace the bad, but it shouldn't define you either. The bad (or not so good) may hurt, be unpleasant, require more effort, be embarrassing, set you back, or require great sacrifice, but such is life. Center yourself in core of who you are, then focus your energy only on the things that you can control and release everything you cannot. • Tighten your bootstraps, dig your heels into the ground and stand tall through it all. Take the blow, shake it off, and keep standing. You're gonna win and you're going to get through it! Make that promise to yourself. • #win #successandnothingless #faithoverfear #blessed #livelovelaugh #spaceandopportunity #GOE #tbt | 📸 @apuje
What barriers have you faced when traveling, both racial and nonracial?
I haven’t faced major barriers when traveling. Language barriers, obviously but even that’s not too bad because a lot of people in many foreign countries understand basic English.
What inspired you to start traveling?
For me, I grew up traveling. Every other year my family would take a big road trip in the summer. As a kid growing up in Shreveport, Louisiana, I loved seeing some of the images I watched on TV come to life like snow capped mountains, sandy beaches, and the vastness of the ocean. That carried over as an adult because I wanted to see the various landscapes abroad, as well as get a better understanding of foreign cultures, people, and their way of life.
Why don’t you think more minorities travel?
I don’t think more minorities travel because oftentimes they get too comfortable with their immediate surroundings, in addition to allowing the fear of the unknown hold them back. Two of the biggest personal traps in life are comfort zones and a gripping fear of the unknown. However, in order to grow and evolve one must learn to face and overcome them.
Another reason is a lot of people think it’s really expensive to travel, when to many places that’s quite the contrary.
Do you think this will ever change?
I think it’s changing now. There’s definitely been a surge in millennials traveling, especially abroad. I think both social media feeds and photos, as well as, airlines offering incredible flight deals to amazing places have been the catalysts for this.
Have you faced any racism while traveling? How have you dealt with it?
I haven’t faced any overt racism while traveling that I can recall, but I’ve had several discussions with people of color abroad and they’ve enlightened me regarding their day-to-day experiences with discrimination, which eerily mirrors a lot of the same injustices we’ve faced as African Americans. One thing I discovered is that discrimination simply based on skin complexion, colorism, can be a major issue for people in various countries abroad. People with lighter complexions tend to be treated with more regard and have more of an advantage in professional, social, and economic instances, compared to those of a darker complexion.
What advice do you have for other minority travelers who are worried about racism or prejudice when they are traveling?
Racism and prejudice is virtually everywhere and it is an unfortunate norm that we can’t escape. However, don’t let that deter you from traveling because there are still a lot of good-hearted people in the world who won’t define you by the color of your skin.
What has been your favorite travel experience thus far?
One of my favorite experiences was exploring a cave in Bocas del Toro, Panama. We found a guide from one of the local tribes to take us into a cave. I don’t think I’ve ever been so freaked out in my life. In brief, the cave pitch dark. The only light came from the light attached to our head bands. It was full of vampire and fruit bats that were constantly flying around. Spiders the size of your fist were crawling on the cave walls and it was cool and damp. Initially, the water only came up to our calves, but half way through we were literally swimming in the dark. The only “comfort” I was given was that there were no snakes. What made it one of my fave experiences was that there was an amazing waterfall and garden on the other side of the cave. It was something out of a scene of a movie! It just sucked because I couldn’t bring my camera because it would have gotten damaged while swimming through.