As part of our commitment to publishing more inclusive and diverse content, our new “Real Life Series” will focus on uplifting marginalized voices and sharing their stories with the Bébé Voyage community. This week we have an interracial family who share their experiences with travel, racial injustices in the US, and why they are moving to Australia.
Q. Could you tell us a little about you and your family?
A. We are a blended family and live in California. My husband Lawrence and I have a four-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Dejanah. He is African-American. I am Australian-born to Chilean parents. We also have two teenage children from his first marriage.
Q. What goes through your head when choosing a travel destination? Does race or sexual orientation or religion affect how you choose your travel destination?
A. Normally, we look for a new adventure or where to create new memories. We love warm climates and beaches and natural beauty but we have also enjoyed visiting cities including in Europe. As I traveled a lot solo before I met my husband, I have been to very culturally diverse places.
To me, it is about learning about people, culture, and about myself as well as being open to new experiences. I do my best to exercise culturally appropriate behaviors and respond to others from a place of learning and curiosity and not based on judgment. Since I am very liberal and hold progressive views, there are many places in the world that would not be compatible with my values. But, when I am visiting a place, I am there as a “guest” and therefore just welcome the experience.
Q.What have been surprisingly positive experiences and what has been negative?
A. In traveling, most of our experiences have been positive and even liberating. In general, we have been welcomed as a couple and also as a family. Thankfully, I cannot think of a negative experience of interacting with people. I did get an ear infection once–so that was not fun! I almost got robbed too, but that is also a risk when one travels solo.
Q. Have you talked to your child/children about how racial injustice could affect your travels? How do you prepare your child/children for it?
A. Thus far, I have not felt limited to visiting places due to racial injustice. We have felt racial injustice more at home here in the U.S. Racial injustice is a daily reality from microaggressions to blatant acts. Our youngest understands that Black people historically have not been treated well and that it happens currently today.
We discuss it more from a scientific perspective as we describe skin color as being the result of having more melanin. People with less melanin decide if they do not want to be kind to or badly treat people with more melanin. We also use the reference to “levels of love” meaning that treating people unkindly is a form of having less evolved love/lower love. Therefore, we need to work on building our levels of love. We also quote Martin Luther King and remind her that people need to be judged for their actions and character and not for the color of their skin, i.e., by how much melanin they have. It can get very complex quickly and we try to simplify it in a way that makes sense in Dejanah’s mind, highlighting the importance of love and welcoming all. We don’t just focus on the deficiency but in building.
We also give a bit of historical context, but I don’t want Dejanah to experience the reverse and dislike certain people because their ancestors created or perpetuated slavery. It is a lot to absorb particularly if you really want to learn about such issues in depth. Ultimately to me, it’s about teaching to not judge people based on any physical representation, to learn to show kindness, and also to stand up to injustice if she observes that something is not right. The older kids are definitely aware and feel quite upset by the realization that this existence is here. That we need to mitigate.
We prepare them by having open discussions, address misinformation, and educate them on history going back to slavery.
Q. With all the recent world events and the more open talk about racial injustice, do you think people will be traveling differently?
A. Probably so. It might increase curiosity for some and they might want to seek certain experiences. We are also in a pandemic so many people understand the importance of remaining safe and possibly enjoying more local travel and experiences.
Q. I know you and your family are planning a move to Sydney. Has this been influenced by the latest events in America?
A. Definitely, my husband does not feel safe and he is seeking a place where race, racial inequities, or racial injustices are not a daily issue for him and the kids. It is very taxing!
Q. How is racial injustice perceived in Australia? How does it differ from the U.S.?
A. I believe that no country in the world is free from racism or any of the -isms that impact our humanity from the beginning of time. In Australia, we definitely still have work to do in relation to the health outcomes, racial injustices, and discrimination that our Aboriginal community experience and are affected by. I think the movement here is bringing an awakening across the whole globe and THAT is a positive thing!
Q. Is there anything you would like to add?
A. I think it’s important to educate children, make them aware, and understand how to combat racism by knowing what it is. But before anyone can do that, as parents we also need to check with ourselves, what our biases are, privileges and oppressions, and come from a place of authenticity, openness, and willingness to address our own biases if necessary.
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