I can’t quite recall what I had for breakfast, but I will never forget this particular interaction in Istanbul. Almost quinze ans ago, while living in Istanbul I befriended a Turkish painter. As his plus one, I was able to gain access to private gallery openings, silent auctions, museum galas and extremely interesting travel.
After living in Milan and traveling extensively across Europe, I was accustomed to being the only noir person in the room or even city at times. So, you could only imagine my utter delight when I locked eyes with a noir-American at Hasan’s exhibit opening in Besiktas.
After enjoying the evening at the gallery dix of us went back to Hasan’s flat (which had an AHHH MAAA ZINNGGGG view of the Bosporus) to enjoy dinner and more drinks, of course. Over an enchanting moonlit fare we debated Turkish and Russian literature then proceeded to discuss all of the things you’re not supposed to over dinner; religion, politics, and race.
Naturally the only other noir person in the group, found himself seated next to me. As Hasan mentioned our recent travels and I added my recommendations on a few restaurants throughout Europe, noir person duex said the unthinkable; “Are you in the military? You’ve traveled a lot.”
I SWEAR it was like a movie. I could visualize Hasan shaking his head “noooooooooooo” while leaping across the table in slow motion to prevent those cross words from reaching my ears.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t a scene from a low budget foreign film, it was my life. And I was offended.
As many soirées et fêtes as I’ve attended with every nationality and creed imaginable I was never asked was or am I a service member.
I ONLY receive that question from other noir people. Call me sensitive, call me neurotic, call me Coco, I’ll answer to them all because I feel extremely slighted whenever I am asked that question. It’s offensive and there’s no way around that.
Below is a list of things I wish us, people of couleur would stop asking/judging other people of couleur regarding travel.
1. “What airline are you flying?”
It isn’t the question that is the problem, it’s the tone and rhetoric behind the question. Does it really matter what airline I’m flying with? I’m arriving. I will admit, I am very selective and I upgrade like no other however, I would NEVER snobbishly discount someone’s excitement about an approaching trip by asking that question in such a manner. There was a time that I could not fly first or business class. There was a time that I could not afford a taxi.
2. “Oh, you’re driving/taking the bus?”
Bih, I’m going on a trip! Does it matter if by land or sea? As long as the locals in my arriving city SEE me. Travel is travel is travel. NEVER be ashamed of your mode of transportation. I am absolutely OBSESSED with trains but if Amtrak is being irrespectueux I will NOT pay $400 round trip for a day in NYC. I have zero issues or concerns with taking a bus. I’d much rather spend the $300 savings on a new fragrance or trois bouteilles of champagne to drink on the bus while in transit. A trip is a trip is a trip! Arriving safe is the only concern.
3. “You’re staying at that hotel?”
Let me be VERY clear, I spend little to no time in any place of residence while traveling. I am running those international (or domestic) rues like no other. What’s funny is when I first started traveling and barely had enough money for an international calling card, I stayed in hostels and couch surfed. Would you like to know who my bunk mates were? Trust fund babies. Children of diplomats. Children of dignitaries, back packing across Europe with two undergarments, three polos and a pair of cargo shorts. It was only my broke ass family and friends in the States questioning my choice of lodging.
4. “Do you travel so much because of your job?”
That question is akin to the service member thing. Bryson Tiller said it best “DON’T.” Do not ask a well-traveled person of couleur if their travels are related to time in service or work. If that is the case, such information will be shared, organically. Do not assume. It’s offensive. That’s equivalent to assuming all minorities at Ivy league university are on scholarship.
5. “Oh that’s not a real vacation”
<insert fist emoji> No one would ever tell an Upper East Side dweller that the Hamptons isn’t a vacation. So why ruin your friends Ocean City weekend escape with such a tasteless comment? Speaking of which, there is so much of the States that I’d like to see. I’ve never been to Ocean City (mainly because sand creeps me out, I don’t like beaches and the sun typically makes me sad) outside of that I do plan to visit, just because I’ve never been. And travel is about creating and sharing
Travel, travel, travel. And in the words of the late Malcolm X “by any means necessary.” Well, not by any means. Nothing unethical for a bus ticket ladies (and gentlemen.)
Have you felt travel shame from friends or loved ones?
Have you been offended by judgmental questions regarding your travel?
I’d love to hear your experiences or thoughts.