The other day someone asked me, “Why do you do black specific topics on travel when you have such a big white following?”
Well, for the last 5+ years I have travelled the world nonstop and over this time, one thing became very apparent to me… Often I am the “ONLY ONE”.
When I am getting lunch on the oceanfront in Bali, Indonesia I am often the only black tourist.
When I’m scuba diving in the amazing Caribbean waters of Bocas Del Toro, Panama, I’m the only black tourist.
Island hopping in Fiji… The only black tourist.
Even just out for dinner in Southern Netherlands.
Traveling has changed my life in ways I can’t even explain. It has turned into a huge passion that can’t be tamed.
I get comments on my Youtube channel like, “Why are you doing black only videos? We are all one”. The thing about that comment is that it’s actually my goal to have unity and not need to do black specific videos.
When you’re the only black person in certain situations, it’s a fact you deal with different things. It’s hard to explain and until you experience a certain situation you might not be able to relate.
I remember one specific time while In Thailand… It was about 10pm in Bangkok and my friend and I went out for some food. We find a restaurant and sit down and order. We started to notice the workers couldn’t seem to take their eyes off me. They looked amazed… This 6 foot+, 240 lb dark black male was in their restaurant!
My friend who speaks Thai basically asked them what’s up. They tell him, “Ooooh he is so big and black and scary looking.” I can’t do anything but laugh. What I love about the Thai people is their honesty. They don’t know how to lie well haha.
I started talking to Thai ladies with their broken English. I wanted to find out why they felt that way. I didn’t want to be judgemental towards them for what they thought about me. I wanted to take the time and analyze their thinking. Their beliefs had to come from somewhere.
For many, their only exposure to black people is through the media… And we all know it’s not exactly the best representation of the average black person.
The average person doesn’t get on TV… It’s the few outrageous ones, the gangstas, the drug dealers, the women pulling out each other’s’ hair. Then of course you have your athletes and musicians that get a lot of press.
The more I spoke to these Thai ladies, the more their guard came down. Within 5 minutes they were laughing and asking when I was coming back!
My whole point to this story is that if I, Jubril the big black guy, is seen in foreign places, often it is a question of how or why is this black guy here. While white tourists are seen as exactly that, a white tourist.
There is always 101 questions more for me. WHY? Because Thailand and the rest of the world have not had enough examples of black travelers, so there will naturally be more questions when something is not often seen or heard of.
As a reasonably intellectual person I can put that together in my mind. But how can I change it?
I walk the world with no fear and have faith in humanity. I truly feel in my heart we the have the ability to change the way the world looks at black people by one person at a time and one video at a time.
I’ll quickly share the power of video with you. I don’t share this to brag at all, but to demonstrate just how powerful your voice can be in an untapped market.
When I visited Thailand in 2011 for the first time, I searched ‘Black People in Thailand’ on Youtube. There was basically nothing on the topic at all. Yet according to Forbes magazine (2014) Thailand was the most visited tourist destination in the world.
I decided to create a video on the topic completely oblivious to the impact it would have. In 2011, I saw about 4 black tourists over 3 months in Chiang Mai. That’s when I released the first video… When I returned in 2014, I saw 4 black people a day and half of them would come up to me and say, “Jubril, thank you for making the video. You are a huge reason why I am here today.”
It was such a humbling feeling, I am just a regular dude from Chicago. But it fuelled me to keep at it. Since then I’ve created videos on many different places I’ve traveled to and received thousands of messages from people saying they have traveled to Panama, Thailand, Colombia etc because of these videos.
I am only one person and my team is small but I know the power of snowballing. One person might come across my video and decide to travel. They post pictures of their experiences on Facebook/Instragram etc which then inspires 1 or 2 of their other friends to travel… It only grows.
There is extreme power in your voice, you might not understand it yet.
But I can see the day in 20 years’ time where it’s common to see black travelers all around the world. The more people travel, the less ignorant the world becomes. You learn about other cultures by experiencing them first hand, not by what you see on the TV.
I encourage people not to be just ‘resort travelers’. Get out and really experience the country that you visit. Don’t get me wrong, I love resort life as much the next person, but there’s so much more to these exotic countries than just all-inclusive resorts.
Until next time, stay tuned!
If you have any questions feel free to leave them in the comments.