As BBV’s Social Justice and Sustainability Editor, Elizabeth Doerr shares her editors’ picks regarding anti-racism, food, and travel.
Anti-racism and how to be more anti-racist, especially as it relates to travel and privilege, are consistently on my mind. And given this current moment we’re living in—amidst dueling pandemics of coronavirus and racial injustice—I’ve been consuming quite a lot that is helping me figure out where I fit in those movements.
With that, my editors’ picks for this month are along those lines. While some of the picks are heavier than others, you’ll find a balance of interesting, fun, eye-opening, and all in some way related to being parents and travelers. I’m eager to hear what you think about these as well!
Are We Doing Vacations Wrong? Radicalize your travel by being a better guest in someone else’s homeland by Bani Amor (magazine article, Yes! Magazine, May 2019)
As we are living within a worldwide racial reckoning, this article has been a really amazing resource in thinking about how this applies to travel. As a seasoned queer travel writer of color, Bani Amor brings a nuanced and important perspective to the act of travel. In particular, they call for looking beyond the oft-quoted Twain quote (“travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness”) in favor of a more active, radical form of travel. “It’s time to retire the narrow implications of the Twain quote,” Amor writes, “and pivot from a politically neutral consideration of travel to a systemic understanding of tourism and travel culture through a lens of social justice.”
As a parent, a traveler, and a white person with a great deal of unearned privilege, this sentiment resonates with me. Amor’s article challenges us to not only be good guests, but to investigate how some forms of tourism and travel play into colonialism, the remnants of which still exist today all over the world. I believe that working to “decolonize” our travels as Amor urges that we can create not only more transformational experiences for ourselves and our kids, but a better world for all children. And while you’re reading this article, check out the entire Summer 2019 Yes! Issue on Radical Travel (and if you’re drawn in by their amazing work, donate and/or subscribe toYes! Magazine).
Nice White Parents from Serial Productions (podcast, New York Times)
If your parenting community is anything like mine, “schools” are a regular and consistent topic of conversation. While my kid still has a couple more years before he is in school, I think a lot about it in relation to how parents talk about schools. And honestly, I’ve been thinking a lot about the coded racism (whether we know it or not) that comes with what is classified as a “good school.”
Nice White Parents, the newest podcast by the beloved Serial team, explores whiteness as it relates to schools and the power that white parents have over how a school functions and is funded. It’s cringe-worthy but also it’s also a mirror of so many conversations I feel I’ve had with other white parents about schools.
Native Land App (website and app)
Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest (in a city named for native people whose land was taken from them by white settlers, no less), I rarely thought about the original people of the land I currently occupied. In fact, until very recently, I still didn’t. For anyone living in North America, there’s an extensive history of native people that we often aren’t told.
While I still have a lot to learn, the Native Land app (which you can also download on your smartphone) has been a starting point for me to honor the original people of the lands. While I’m hiking in the mountains of Mt. Hood wilderness (the land of the Molalla and Tenino people) or playing on the beach of the Oregon Coast (the land of the Nestucca, Tillamook, and Siletz people), the Native Lands app gives me a place to begin learning about the people and the history of the place I live before white settlers came in.
Taste the Nation with Padma Lakshmi (television show, Hulu)
I binged this show so fast that I had to go back for a second round of watching. Padma Lakshmi brings a perspective to the food travelogue format that I’ve never seen before. As an immigrant and a woman of color, Lakshmi hones in on the food cultures that make up the modern-day United States. From the burrito in El Paso, TX, the kabob in Los Angeles, CA, to indigenous foods in Arizona, she shines a light on stories about the cultures, people, and history that often aren’t told even to those of us who live here.
To make it even better, Lakshmi is truly a delight and her reactions to the food she eats is so relatable (and I rather love her salty exclamations!). I literally jumped for joy when she announced that Hulu picked up her show for Season 2.
The Sporkful with Dan Pashman (podcast, Stitcher)
This is hands down one of my favorite podcasts. I haven’t missed an episode for the last five years. If you love eating food and listening to podcasts, this one’s for you. The tagline “it’s not for foodies, it’s for eaters” is perfect as you don’t have to be a gourmand to appreciate it. The goal is to learn about people through food. Isn’t that a mindset that so many of try to take with us while we travel?
The thing I love about Dan Pashman and the entire podcast itself is that he seamlessly weaves fun/funny topics in with the more serious ones. For example, their Webby award-winning story When White People Say Plantation explores commodification of Black food culture via the term “plantation”. And then a more recent episode Dan talks to a “burger historian” in his story The History of Regional Burgers. Regardless of the topic, Dan is a delightful person to listen to and I’m always amused and always learn something new.
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