When I was in kindergarten, one of the other students in my class refused to hold my hand nor talk to me because of the texture of my hair and the color of my skin. This was the day that changed my life and influenced my perspective on everything. After class, I told my mom what happened because I was confused about my place in the world. That day and the following week she had me watch Roots, Eye on the Prize, read Essence, and Jet Magazine.
This experience sparked the importance of culture and identity inside of me. Unfortunately, as years passed I struggled with figuring out who I am. I was the black girl who attended white schools so of course people were always touching my hair. I was bullied for the way I speak and sometimes felt like I couldn’t fit in. Thankfully, as I got older I started to appreciate and understand who I am and where I came from.
This childhood memory has never left me and has influenced the destinations I travel today. I knew there would be a point in my life where I only traveled to countries that relate to me and unexpectedly August 2019 was the time it happened. I visited Canada, Ghana (plus an Italy stopover), and Jamaica. Most of the trips were unplanned, but they all connected to one another. It’s funny how history works and repeats itself.
Canada: You’re probably thinking how does Canada relate to anything, but it does in many ways. Historically slaves used to flee to Canada for a better life. I went to Canada to attend Caribana, the largest carnival festival in North America. Caribana has been in Toronto since the 60s and it was created to raise funding and to celebrate Caribbean cultures. This year the celebration still continues and in 2019 I finally had a chance to experience it on my own! #jumpNwave
Ghana: In 1619, during the month of August the first documented slaves arrived in America. Ghana launched the “Year of the Return” movement because August 2019 marked 400 years since my ancestors were removed from their land and forced on a ship to embark on a painful journey to America. This movement was created to welcome everyone, especially those who are descendants of the enslaved people and those who wanted to learn history and experience culture. I traveled to Ghana to learn more about the world’s dark history and to celebrate my culture.
Jamaica: This country means so much to me because my family on both sides came from this island. Unfortunately, I had to fly here for a family emergency, but the trip was still great. Although this trip was not part of my original journey for August, it related to both of my previous trips. Jamaica is part of the Carribean culture I was celebrating in Canada. The slaves from Ghana and the rest of Africa were sent to various countries. One of these destinations was Jamaica. In Ghana, I actually had an opportunity to learn about Jamaica’s freedom fighters while I visited historical slave sites.
Check out my adventures in Ghana here and keep a lookout for my post on Canada!
Which places have you visited that meant a lot to you?