Like many of my fellow travellers we had some awesome trips planned for 2020. Personally, 2020 was the “Year of Travel!” In January, I had just gotten back from Barcelona. In February, I went to Cabo, Baja California Sur, Mexico; Austin, Texas; and Los Angeles, California. In July, I was going to go to Afro Punk in Paris and return to Barcelona in August with my mom and cousin.
Yea, I had it ALL planned out, then…CORONAVIRUS (Cardi B Voice)!
Not only did coronavirus wipe out my travel plans, it added my anxiety.
This virus uncovered the viruses long plaguing the United States of America.
2) Lack of Universal Healthcare
3) Wages of the working class
The virus that impacts me the most is racism. In the Spring, when new life is supposed to flourish, life was being taken away. I watched Amhaud Arbery get gunned down by racists. I saw pictures of George Floyd, before the breathe literally left his body. Breonna Taylor’s name echoed in my head and in my spirit. Rayshard Brooks, gunned down in Atlanta, for falling asleep in his car, something that happened to my brother only two years ago. My hometown, Stone Mountain, was once again reliving the ugly history that it has tried to heal and grow from as militias divided by skin color first then ideals converged into the streets of places that I chose to give tours to teach others about my hometown.
Yes, this country is falling a part by people who hate others for the things that cannot control: their skin color.
An escape to Europe would have been the ideal remedy to take a break from the coronavirus and the racism virus, but that is definitely a no-go at this time.
So I took small escapes, but the anxiety of the coronavirus and racism virus stayed with me and amplified the anxiety I already had.
My mom, brother, and I took Mother’s Day trip to Fort Walton Beach, Florida. While I was sooo excited to travel to the beach after two months and 10 pounds of quarantine yet, I was just as anxious. Now you may ask yourself why? Let me tell you. In order to travel to Fort Walton Beach from Atlanta, you drive on an Alabama back road to reach the gulf. A black family and their dog passing through towns with confederate flags plastered or flying from trailers, jacked up trucks, and business buildings you get the hint that people who look like you aren’t welcome.
Instead of flying from Atlanta to Miami and Miami to Barcelona for our annual mother-daughter trip we went from Atlanta to Myrtle Beach to Charleston to Asheville. This trip was less anxious for me because I was with my mom. I only became really anxious when we were driving back from Charleston to Myrtle Beach. It was pitch black outside on a back country road in South Carolina. I was not afraid of hitting a deer or getting into a crash I was afraid of the police. Now you are probably thinking, well if you weren’t doing anything wrong why would you be afraid of the police. I will tell you why. I watched Philando Castile get shot in the car, with his girlfriend and his daughter in the car with him. A broken taillight warranted a fatal punishment. As an African-American in this country you don’t have to commit a crime to get pulled over. The color of your skin is enough of a crime. Sandra Bland was pulled over for failing to signal. She later died in jail. She was arrested…for failing to signal.
My friends and I spent a weekend in North Georgia/South Tennessee. On the way we saw the confederate flags (far less than expected) but still there. The mindset still there. The racism still there. My friends will tell you that I was very afraid during this trip. I don’t think they have ever seen me so anxious. I am always the friend who says outrageous things. I try to tell jokes to keep others happy and smiling. I didn’t really know how to talk to them about my fear as I don’t think they will totally understand, but I force myself to share and talk to them, because I need to. They are my small hopes that non-blacks can sympathize and even empathize with what this Black woman is feeling.
Now I am home. Still anxious, but planning yet another trip. Travel IS my drug. It is MY ESCAPE. I use it to run-a-way from reality. But in the States reality is not so easy to escape. Whilst some travellers worry about contracting COVID-19. I worry about encountering racism. I hope this country finally changes. I hope the amount of melanin in a person’s skin stops crippling this “great” nation.
I am an anxious traveller. I will push through my anxiety.
I am grateful for my family and friends for helping me through and listening to me. Love you all.