To Do What No Other African American Has Done (So Far)
International travel teaches us quite a bit about ourselves. Sometimes it reinforces what we already know. I love to compete. I love to challenge myself. I love to push myself beyond what I, and others believe is possible. And this journey is the beginning of a true challenge. One I hope will inspire others to do the same.
I had an article idea which would see me interviewing the first, or any, African American who had visited every country in the world. My search came up short. Surely I was mistaken in believing it hadn’t been done. But sure enough, I haven’t been able to find one reference to an African American visiting every country on the planet. Even friends of mine who are just as travel as myself offered little in the way of help. So the question becomes, Has an African-American been to every country in the world?
In terms of a documented journey, no. I really hope I’m wrong on this one and someone corrects me. But it seems to be the truth. I find this very disappointing. Unfortunately, it’s not that surprising. Approximately 17% of African-Americans travel internationally. Some of my colleagues see this as some grand travel movement. I see it as an indictment on our American way of life but that’s a point I’ll make in another format.
Speaking with my friend, and fellow travel journalist Kerwin McKenzie, spawned an interesting challenge for us. A search for the world’s most traveled black men and their promotion. It’s still in the brainstorming phase but we not only intend to push each other to travel more, but to inspire and motivate more men of color to do the same. The travel landscape is significantly lacking.
Side note, I refuse to let Kerwin beat me to 198 countries. Not happening my friend. Just not happening.
Low Income and Minority Students Don’t Have Adequate Access to International Travel
A lack of awareness still exists regarding the academic, social, and creative marginalization of low income students. Many of them are students of color. I have dedicated my life to shining a light on these issues in any way that I can. Now I’m not the most militant guy around, but I have zero qualms about pointing out the shortcomings of the American system when it comes to helping these kids.
Some will argue for education reform, closing the wealth gap, or changing the ridiculous prison system. But I feel, that by emphasizing the importance of international travel we can provide all of these things to our children by allowing them to see a world with diverse ways of solving problems. A world that is flawed and beautiful at the same time. A world that can teach them not only the value of their lives, but the value of all human life. No matter race, religion, gender, or nationality.
Throughout my journey I will continue to work with low income students to expose them to a world few of them imagined. I will continue to spread the significance of their plight by promoting initiatives aimed at ending the marginalization they face. Through travel we can provide a better way.
My Search for Meaning and Purpose
Too often travel is minimized to a check list of “must dos”. For me, it’s an exploration of self. It’s my truth, pain, and penance. Travel for me is the catalyst for change and discovery. Change I haven’t yet completed. Discovery I haven’t truly begun. I’m not the person I want to be when I grow up. And that’s something we all need to strive for.
Pull back all the layers of traditional BS. The jobs, expectations, and social norms. Remove all of that and ask yourself what do you want to do and who do you want to be? Personally, I know I’m not there yet. And this project will help me. I’ve found myself through travel and what better way than to push myself further than I ever have?
So that’s a brief breakdown of why I’ve decided to embark on this journey. Below are some of the things you can expect to see in the future.
– Where am I going?
There are 198 countries in the world (this is disputed by some to be lower). I’ve visited 90 (UPDATED Jul 11th 2016) of them so far, with Indonesia and Malaysia being recent additions. My next one will be Moldova in April 2015. Several of these countries were due to military service. I plan to revisit a few as a civilian. Specifically Turkmenistan and Afghanistan. If we add territories I believe I’m over 100 but want to make this journey as simple and easy to follow as possible.
193 UN Recognized Countries
2 UN Observors, Palestine and The Vatican
3 Disputed countries but largely recognized. Taiwan, Western Sahara, and Kosovo
– Cost of visiting each new country
No idea why people STILL think I’m rich but they seem too. In an effort to show that travel can be affordable for everyone, I’ll disclose how I was able to visit the country. Many countries I’ve visited recently have been a result of my journalist work. So in that case I’ll detail what it would have cost me. But don’t hold me to that. Sometimes life happens. If you want to know, message me.
–Every five countries send a cool package
I want you guys to be part of this experience. So every fifth new country starting now, i’ll send out a care package from that country filled with cool souvenirs specific to that place. Not sure exactly how i’ll be selecting the winner but stay tuned. Will be soon as I intend to visit five new countries before August.
– Pick final country and take family there
I honestly have no idea when I’ll finish this or where it will end. But one of my goals is to ensure my closest family members are there to celebrate the achievement. I better save up because granny is flying first class.
– 72 hour limit
I’m placing a 72 hour requirement on myself. Now I know many have visited every country in the world before. But quite a few have barely spent any time in many. Although i’ll be counting countries I stayed in shorter, I feel like I would need to return. I’ll experience as much as possible given the time that I have. If I was unable to spend more than 72 hours i’ll be including asterisk on the country for a future visit but will still count them.
– Tracking my Progress
My site is having a new page built to track this event. From start to finish. I’ll have a map with the countries I’ve already visited as well as the ones I have left. It’s actually far more of a chore than I thought it would be but should be up before I visit my next “new” country.
– Parties at 100, 125, 150, 175, and final Have one friend or family member
So as I hit these milestones I’m throwing a party/event/get together in that country to celebrate. Everyone is invited. So if i’m close stop through. I want to have as many of you be part of this as possible.
– Tattoo Finale
I don’t have any tats. Have been considering getting one for years and I think this will be a great final hurrah. Hopefully I can have it done in the last country I visit. I’ve already decided on the tattoo I’ll be getting but going to search for an artist who can bring my vision to life. If you know of an epic tattoo artist, let me know.
So would you ever try something like this? What are some of the difficulties I may face? Don’t forget to comment and share.