We’re pleased to have travel blogger and photographer Erick Prince from minoritynomad.com join us once again this Black History Month to share his views as an African-American traveler.

I grew up during the height of the crack cocaine era in America. In my world (Cleveland, Ohio), I thought I had a clear perspective on poverty, privilege, and how others see me. I thought these things depended on economics, race, and where you live. But through travel, my eyes were opened to some amazing, and at times hard, truths:

Poverty: It’s everywhere and there’s always someone worse off than you

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An elderly woman begs on the street in Sarajevo, Bosnia

As I walked through the Old Center of Sarajevo, I saw an elderly woman passively begging on the street. The kind of woman I had likely walked past before. She was totally and utterly ignored. As I watched person after person, group after group, walk past her as if she wasn’t there, I felt ashamed and frustrated. In the Dominican Republic, I visited schools where Haitian children waited to eat. Why? Because their parents couldn’t find work to feed them at home. In Siem Reap, I was overwhelmed by beggars on the streets, bowing their heads in the dirt to beg for spare change.

You might post on social media on your fancy smartphone about how broke you are, but you really have no idea what some people have to do to survive in other places around the world.

“I’ve learned through travel that poverty isn’t localized. It’s a GLOBAL reality that needs to be addressed.”

Privilege: You’ll find you have unrecognized advantages – both good and bad

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A Thai drag queen at the Copenhagen Pride Festival, Denmark

I was invited to attend a gay pride event as a straight ally. There, I learned that homosexuality is criminalized in 77 countries and the penalty is death in 10 of those. I’ve met solo female travelers that have to constantly watch their drinks and how they dress to prevent sexual assaults. I’ve been treated like a celebrity throughout Asia simply because I’m black, being compared to President Obama and Kanye West.

As a straight man, I don’t need to be concerned with laws against homosexuality. As a man, I don’t necessarily have to worry about the possibility of being sexually assaulted. As a black person, I’m instantly “familiar” due to the prevalence of African-American culture around the world.

“Even though I’m a minority in my own country, there are some privileges – both good and bad –  that I’ve learned I have.”

Positivity: You can always count on the kindness of strangers

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A wonderful and welcoming restaurateur in Cape Town, South Africa

In October 2016, I became the godfather to my Romanian friend’s twin son. I met my friend only two years ago, in Piatra Neamt, Romania. After being mistaken for a possible drug smuggler in Medan, Indonesia, I was given a private tour of Medan and its amazing culture by a small hotel owner who really went out of his way to make me feel welcome. In Santiago, Chile, a hospitable couch-surfing experience led me to meet a friend of my host – who I later fell in love with.

I’ve served slightly over 10 years in the US military and I’m proud to be an American. But sometimes in the US, we’re taught to believe in an “Us vs Them” mentality. What I’ve learned through travel is that, while the world does find us extremely confusing, we’re always greeted with open arms.

For me, the most eye-opening thing I’ve learned during my travels is that the world doesn’t hate us and there are new friends to be made anywhere you go.”

Too often we create echo chambers that reinforce our beliefs and views of the world, no matter how flawed and antiquated these beliefs and views are. But travel breaks that cycle. It forces us to elevate our thinking or at the very least be exposed to alternate views and ideas. Travel has made me a better person, and my only wish is that it does the same for you.

You can check out more of Erick’s pictures in another special post right here, or on Instagram (@minoritynomad)

14 Responses

  1. Daneka D. Hillery

    Love the article… Love the photos! I am nowhere near as seasoned a traveler as you, however, I have learned that privilege is definitely found in the simplest of conveniences. As I travel, I try to shed those privileges and become with the natives.

    Reply
  2. Stanley Brown

    I would love to meet Erick! I am addicted to traveling! People say you have to find your calling! I know I have found it! Erick can we meet ????? I know you have amazing stories and insights!

    Reply
    • Erick Prince
      Erick Prince

      sure. im in Europe a month in March and then touring Central and South America for the summer.

      Reply
  3. Kay Flowe

    Thank You for sharing your journey! I travel, often, with our preteen daughter. The military opened a world to me that I may have never know existed and I am thankful for the opportunity to share that world with our daughter, while she is young. BLESSINGS!

    Reply
    • Erick Prince
      Erick Prince

      The military did the same for me. It’s amazing when young people are exposed to travel early. It puts them on an entirely different life path.

      Reply
  4. Susan

    Your article is inspiring, eye-opening, and uplifting. Where some people would merely be consuming their experience, you’ve engaged in thoughtful reflection. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Erick Prince
      Erick Prince

      I’ve found that travel has not only opened my eyes to the world, but given me a high level of self-awareness. As is the power of travel an exploration.

      Reply

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About The Author

Erick Prince

Erick Prince is a photographer, philanthropist, and world traveler. He's currently on a quest to become the first African American to visit every country in the world. You can follow his journey, with all of the amazing places he's seen and people he's met, at MinorityNomad.com.