The Travel Industry’s Reckoning With Race and Inclusion
“These road trips and initiatives that speak to people of color in general are important because we’ve been left out of travel narratives,” Ms. Braswell said. “If you’re going to be creating experiences where people are going out into the world, all people should be included in those experiences.”Ms. Braswell added that the bulk of her business comes from Black travelers. These travelers, she said, are looking for Black travel advisers who have the knowledge of places where they are welcomed and can help them plan their trips. Over the past year travelers across racial backgrounds have been increasingly asking for tours and experiences that include Black-owned businesses, she said.Across the country, as people protested against police brutality, travelers demanded to see more travelers who looked like them in advertising; they spoke out against tourism boards that hadn’t been inclusive in the past and formed organizations like the Black Travel Alliance, calling for more Black travel influencers, writers and photographers to be employed.The Alliance and others have been pushing for more Black travelers to be visible and included in the industry and in spaces of leisure travel.Going beyond museumsAt the same time, tour providers like Free Egunfemi Bangura, the founder of Untold RVA, a Richmond-based organization, are offering tours that center on the contributions of Black people. In a city such as Richmond, which was once a capital of the Confederacy, she said that means seeing the value of working outside the established system of preservation societies and museums that are typically run by white leadership.To Ms. Bangura and other activists, artists and tour operators, museums and traditional preservation societies are part of the culture of exclusion that has historically left Black people out and continues to present versions of history that focus on white narratives. Ms. Bangura’s tours take place on the streets of the city as a better way to understand the local history.At a time when state legislatures are pushing for and passing laws that limit what and how much students learn about the contributions of Black and other marginalized people to the country, Ms. Bangura and others said, tours that show their contributions are even more important.