The Writer Behind 'Go Girl!,' The First Travel Guide For Black Women, Is Back To Share The Adventures Of A New Generation
Courtesy of Elaine Lee

If Black women didn’t really feel like they belonged in the travel space earlier than, they could possible really feel a way of belonging now. We’re seeing extra melanin than ever as Black girls stay their greatest lives overseas, whether or not via solo journey, women journeys or baecations. Black travel, typically, is now so pervasive that in 2023, the Black Travel Summit declared Nov. 11 Nationwide Black Journey Day. Additionally, in 2019, Black Individuals spent an estimated $109 billion on leisure travel, accounting for round 13% of all vacationers.

Black female travel, particularly, may be traced way back to the 1800s when Mary Seacole, a Black businesswoman and nurse, traveled the world and documented her adventures in her 200-page autobiography Fantastic Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands. However, our journeys haven’t at all times been nicely documented or publicized. That’s, till Elaine Lee shone a lightweight on our experiences. Her 1997 work, Go Girl! The Black Woman’s Book of Travel and Adventure, is the primary guide by and for African American girls that seamlessly interweaves 52 journey tales by prolific Black girls together with Maya Angelou, Gwendolyn Brooks, Audre Lorde, Jill Nelson, Alice Walker and Pearl Cleage.

The guide made Black journey tangible, serving to Black girls really feel included in an area we regularly didn’t have entry to and breaking open the infinite prospects in terms of locations to go and issues to see on this planet round us.

Virtually three many years since its debut, Lee is ready to launch an expanded, up to date and revised version of the guide: Go Girl 2: The Black Woman’s Book of Travel and Adventure. Readers can anticipate 54 journey tales, poems, and photographs on this jewel. Lee additionally introduces a brand new technology of journey writers resembling Lola Akinmade Åkerström, Lebawit Lily Girma, Georgina Lawton, Martinque Lewis, Rue Mapp, and Noo Saro-Wiwa, amongst others.

“What I’ve introduced in Go Woman 2 is the voice of a brand new technology of journey writers and vacationers,” Lee tells ESSENCE. “So lots of them are gen xers and millennials. And so they’ve had a special expertise with the world than the ladies who wrote 30 years in the past.”

Lee, who has been a globetrotter for over 30 years, is in a very good place to debate these adjustments. Probably the most evident shifts she has seen is illustration of Black girls in journey. When Lee started touring within the 90s, there wasn’t a lot–if any–illustration, which additionally created concern round seeing the world.

“For me once I began my first journey all over the world, there have been no Black journey books,” Lee says. “I had by no means met a Black girl who traveled all over the world, by no means seen any photographs of Black girls navigating the planet alone. And it was terrifying for me.”

The shortage of illustration propelled Lee to create one thing she hadn’t but seen and pave the best way for different Black girls.

The Writer Behind ‘Go Girl!,’ The First Travel Guide For Black Women, Is Back To Share The Adventures Of A New Generation
Courtesy of Elaine Lee

“Since then, I’ve gotten 1000’s of letters from Black girls thanking me for giving them that braveness to see the world and offering that inspiration in addition to sensible tips about how you can see it,” Lee says.

Two different distinct elements of journey Lee has seen evolve through the years embody the rise of social media and use of know-how. Each have created ease for vacationers and in some ways, made occurring grand adventures, and discovering neighborhood when doing so, each simpler and safer to do.

Whereas planning a visit to Peru, Lee posted in Black Journey Motion, a hub for Black vacationers on social media, asking completely different questions concerning the South American nation. Inside hours, folks offered her with a wealth of knowledge.“So I bought an opportunity to be part of and discover a complete Black neighborhood in Peru that I by no means actually knew existed,” she says.

She additionally provides that she’s been in a position to journey lighter because of technological developments over the previous few many years. Lee now not wants to maneuver about together with her traveler checks, deal with guide, information guide, digital camera, cassette participant or mail books to her locations prematurely.

“With my first journey all over the world, I couldn’t carry all these journey books to the eight nations I used to be going to. So I needed to mail the final 4 books to an American Categorical retailer in Switzerland in order that I wouldn’t have to hold all of them, however I might decide them up alongside the best way. How occasions have modified,” she reminisces.

In her new guide, Lee continues telling the distinctive tales of Black girls, going past floor stage narrations and experiences. As a groundbreaking Black journey author, she says being a very good journeyer is about studying to be a traveler versus a vacationer.

“How I do that’s (to) immerse myself in a tradition. Take the time to find out about the place I’m going and study a bit little bit of the language, study cash, study to decorate and never attempt to be a chameleon per se, however to be respectful of a tradition,” she explains. “And consequently, folks welcome you into it, and then you definitely study from befriending the locals and being part of a neighborhood.”

Journey lovers or individuals who stay vicariously via courageous explorers can learn an array of wealthy tales within the upcoming guide. Lee’s major purpose with this work is to once more amplify extra Black girls’s voices.

“In actuality, the place are you going to listen to it aside from in ESSENCE?” Lee asks. “There’s no place for the Black girl traveler’s voice to be heard. And so I’ve tried to create a discussion board that’s enlightening and inspiring to find out about what Black girls are doing and the way they’re navigating mom earth.”

Go Woman 2 will likely be obtainable in print and digitally through Amazon in March.


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