Anjelika “Anj” Perry is a saavy entrepreneur leading from the intersections of cross-cultural identity, travel and wellness. Her company, Black Travel Go, has mobilized a community of over 40,000 people posting photos with the #blacktravelgo hashtag while sharing their cross cultural experiences from places like Bali, Morocco, St. Lucia and Australia. She is based in the United States. Through a series of reflections, Perry lays out how her personal experiences led her to become a responsible traveler.
Anj Insight: When I see travelers posting their inspirational pictures and showing how they push past their fear while inspiring others to do the same… there’s just something so radical about this.
Travel Helped Me Fall in Love with Myself
Perry was recovering from a break up when she decided that a two-state solo trip to Atlanta and New Orleans would bring a fresh perspective. “This trip was inspired by how much I was losing my joy. I always knew I loved travel I just never had the courage to do it by myself, and this trip was literally in my backyard. It was healing for me because I didn’t have to wait on the approval from someone else. I took an eleven hour train ride from ATL to NOLA. I had a great time.”
The trip also led her to connect to her cultural roots, specifically when she got to Louisiana. “Louisiana is very much my Dad’s side of the family. I’ve always felt very called to put a voice and a story to their story. Prior to me doing this deep ancestry research, we didn’t know anything about my family. Being a part of a city and state that is a big part of my ancestral makeup was huge. The plantations where my ancestors were enslaved are now museums.”
Taking this trip kicked her ancestry research into high gear because she recognized that falling in love with travel deepened the love she had for her culture.
Anj Insight: You really need to know where you come from to know where you’re going. Especially for those people who have been enslaved.
Building Intentional Community
From a young age, Perry’s mother taught her to value community service. “I like to call myself a community architect. I think there’s so much that we don’t realize we have in common. We have a lot of misinformation about each other because we’re not having conversations.”
For Perry, building intentional community is at the heart of building more pathways for responsible travel. “It’s important to recognize that Blackness is culturally fluid and multidimensional. There’s no one size fits all approach, which means there needs to be conversations around how we experience ourselves.”
Anj Insight: You can go to a Black community in Panama, Brazil, or Puerto Rico and you see Blackness in a different way but still a string connects us.
Embracing the Gray Zone
When visiting Tulum, Mexico, Perry saw plenty of tourist attractions but little focus on the historic pyramids or the food and language of the local population. She even noticed that there was not much awareness around wearing a mask. She candidly reflects on this experience. “It’s not just what you want from a culture, but also how your foreigner privilege impacts those places.”
One of the challenges facing Black travelers is addressing their positional privilege when traveling to other places. The globetrotter chooses to address this complexity from a source of power.
“We forget that in the gray area is so much where life is. You can be this and be that. I feel like as a collective we’re starting to realize that our growth is in this duality. We want better lives and having a better life comes with a lot of questions. If you’re living off of American dollars and getting these amazing houses and lofts it does begin to impact the local community. I encourage people to move and travel abroad if it’s calling you, just really understand what the community you’re living in faces.”
Anj Insight: As a rule of thumb, consider the things you’ve never had to consider as a Black American that you now have to consider abroad. If we think about it this way, we might move differently in our travel choices.
Anjelika Perry is a fierce advocate for amplifying black voices through digital activism and travel. She has an extensive roster of building brands with notable clients and is committed to Black excellence.