Travel, politics, and why I blog about both

BY ONEIKA RAYMOND

A short message for those who think that political posts don’t belong on a travel blog.

I originally posted the following on my Facebook page, but think the message bears repeating here.

***

I’m always disheartened by readers telling me I’m getting “too political” on my blog or on this page.

Guys, sorry to break it to you, but travel IS political. It involves governments, accords, commerce, and currencies; different visas, different religions, and adapting to different ways of thinking, living, and doing.

And as I’ve said many a time, travel isn’t always light and fun, it’s not only about taking a selfie in front of the Eiffel Tower or budget travel in Southeast Asia.

Travel can be raw and real and painful. It can also be rife with inequality and devastation– more for some people than others.

I get it, though– travel is an escape for some of you, a reprieve from the ills and stresses of your daily life. Pretty pictures are like an elixir and light-hearted memes a salve.

And I get that avoiding negative news and disengaging from political discourse is a form of self-care for some. I really understand and see where you’re coming from.

But some people don’t get to pick and choose which battles to fight. They are in the line of fire regardless, and through no fault of their own.


And as someone who is sensitive to this, incensed by the degree of injustice I see taking place, and privileged enough to have a platform to express my dismay (and also privileged enough to not fear persecution for sharing my thoughts), I feel compelled to speak up.

So if you find it “too political”, that’s unfortunate, because I’ll continue to use my forum to discuss and inform about issues I hold dear.

Here’s the thing: if these political topics don’t interest you or are a trigger, you can simply scroll on by and onto the next post that catches your fancy.

Because, you know what? I’ll continue to post the light-hearted stuff too– I’m of the belief that we can discuss political matters and frivolous travel topics simultaneously. We can multitask, guys. I’m confident we can invest ourselves in different causes at once.

So, in sum, the political chat is here to stay, but the beauty of the internet is that you don’t have to engage in “controversial” discourse if you don’t want to.

Still, it would be nice if you did.

What do you think? Should travel blogs and bloggers avoid talking about politics? Why or why not?

SHARING IS CARING

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97 Comments

  • Honestly? I didn’t think you spoke or wrote enough about politics or travelling while Black before, which was why I read your blogs sporadically only and not as much as a reader would. It’s been eye opening reading your change in topics and I get it: some people just want the fairy tales in life. But we can’t all travel like that. Keep it up sis.

    Reply
    • Thank you! While posts about travelling while Black, the Black Lives Matter movement, and prejudicial treatment based on religion and nationality are peppered throughout my blog, it’s true that as I’ve “come of age” as a writer I’ve tackled more and more of these issues in my online spaces. Thank you for sticking with me!

      Reply
  • I love this!!!!
    I also do a bit of social commentary on my travel blog too. I think it’s so important – it may be a bit different as my blog has a slightly different niche, but I 100% agree with you. Travel is political, and it’s so important to discuss world issues and bring awareness to topics that really need to be discussed.

    Reply
  • I used to keep my travel blog only related to travel but as I developed as a blogger and as a person I understood that my blog is my platform to talk about things that are important to me: cruelty to animals, bad work of government organizations, unjust punishments, etc. But it is important to keep balance.

    Reply
    • “..as I developed as a blogger and as a person I understood that my blog is my platform to talk about things that are important to me” I agree!

      Reply
  • The reason I like your blog so much is because you DON’T only blog about traveling.

    When I started my blog a few months ago, I was unsure if I should “find a niche” as they say, but I decided that my identities are too many to focus on only one.

    Quite frankly, writing solely about traveling (or food, or beauty, etc.) is a luxury only privileged people have. And that’s cool, but for some of us, life is always political.

    Reply
    • Thanks Nina! For so many travel is but an escape. But I feel like for people of colour especially, travel raises questions about politics and diplomacy.

      Reply
  • Blessings to you Oneika. I hope you stay as honest and wonderfully blogafied as you! Your blog is a place for me to learn and get educated so I can finally do my own travels. Thanks for the beautiful work. Am enjoying all the pics.

    Reply
  • Yes, so much yes, to this! Also, turning a blind eye for the most part (I understand doing so sometimes for self-care) is dangerous. Passivity allows things to get worse. At least out of the people I know (can’t say it’s universal) the people who are most passive are those with the least to lose, which is sad, because often they have more resources for tackling some of the problems out there anyway.

    Keep it up! You always make great points on your blog and I enjoy reading your posts.

    Reply
  • Does ackee like salt fish? ?It’s difficult to extricate the two when traveling while Black and especially for a Black woman who often travels alone. Whether I am in Berlin or Dublin or New Delhi my “otherness” is politicized. I choose to give it a platform if there is a teachable moment. I can’t necessarily change most people’s perceptions in 6 to 7 days so I compartmentalize to a certain extent and try to live in the moment. I love meeting new people/visiting new locales and that trumps (oh no!) any discomfort I could ever experience, really.

    It’s a real phenomenon and I advocate discussing as appropriate; nobody should be trying to police your sentiments about your varied travel experiences.

    Reply
  • I completely agree with you. Travelling is an inherently political act, and to ignore that would be to miss out on so many opportunities for growth and learning. I was initially worried about talking about more “controversial” topics on my blog, but now I’m glad that I have. Not only has it helped me to make sense of my own thoughts about the places I’ve been to, but it has also helped to stimulate discussion with others as well – and the more we talk about these things, the better! Thanks for your post!

    Reply
    • Word! We definitely need to get the discussion going, for better or worse!

      Reply
  • In the current global political climate (US’s #45 and Brexit) where xenophobia is the new norm, travel bloggers have a unique opportunity to expose all that is beautiful in our differences. Travel safely Sis, we need your voice!

    Reply
  • One of the side benefits of travel for me is that I become more socially aware with every trip I take. Every country opens my eyes to the struggles of different parts of the world – whether political, socioeconomic or whatever. If we don’t take the time to think about those issues we are burying our heads in the sand! It’s great that you use your platform to highlight the issues that need talking about. Don’t stop… ?

    Reply
  • I love this! Recently I’ve started my own blog and with it came the habit to read more and more other blogs, to see how othe people do it. Your blog is the first that really got me excited the second I started reading. Sometimes blogs can feel so ‘unreal’ for me. I’m still trying to find out what I want with my blog, and you’re such an inspiration. Keep up the good work!

    Reply
  • True that are many factors to travel other than just traveling for the sake of travel especially for people of various colors and ethnicities. It’s being misjudged for no apparent reason other than how one looks…unfortunately–still does exist in our world. And though I would prefer not to have to keep going here, I do. So I happen to be a mixed-race woman of color of say two/three ethnicities, so I can be labeled different backgrounds wherever I go–or even perceived not to speak English–or as well as I do. So I feel in my travels I’m juggling with various notions and having false identities place on me. While it’s fun in ways to feel like you are a citizen of the world and can belong to many communities, yes indeed with this position as well comes much political, and cultural prejudices from different angles–and often having to give a background speech when you walk into a new place. Once on my travel journey I was associated to “rice and beans.” Lol I do love me some rice and beans unapologetically.

    Reply
  • Thanks for this post, Oneika! I applaud you for incorporating information about politics and inequality to your blog, it’s important that people with a platform use their voice. As I develop my writing, I struggle to find meaningful words to contribute to the conversation – so recently, I just pointed people to you! Thank you for speaking up and inviting your readers to join you on this journey of discovery.

    Reply
  • Thank you for evolving in your traveling coverage. As I’ve began really travelling across Europe, I’ve noticed the politics of travelling while black and I wished someone would address it. I plan to blog about my experience but I am glad that there are other’s who can relate.

    Reply
  • I really appreciate how you combine travel and politics throughout your content. As you said, they are not separate topics; politics is always interweaved with travel, whether we realize it or not. It’s important to bring awareness to political issues, and I think travel can certainly facilitate that.

    Reply
  • This is amazing, I’m a political scholar and civil servant. I also run a non-profit that teaches kids the importance of learning a foreign language and traveling. I love that there is no separation between the two! They are all a part of being a global citizen.

    Reply
  • Just found your blog stumbled upon this post. I LOVE that you include the political on your site. Too many travel blogs paint false pictures of stunning beaches, lovely food, and nothing else. Rick Steves’ Travel as a Political Act is a good book from a a guy who gets it.

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