I am an American Afro-Latina travel blogger.
I am also a runner. Happy with where I am in life now, but still - no doubt - sometimes a runner. I run from drama. And admittedly, I sometimes run from my passions.
I love my passions so much that I want nothing to do with them. I don't want to eventually hate them. I don't want to ruin them. I don't want to make them feel like work. I don't want to fail.
Quitting my job in 2014 was the first time I stopped running. Yes, sitting still can also count as running.
Committing to a serious relationship after a ten-year failed one was the second time.
2015 was the year of "Me"
It was the year I accepted that some failure was inevitable; that I needed to learn how to deal with and learn from fear.
Taking my blog seriously was one of my passion goals for 2015. Since then, I've worked with over 100 companies and brands, and have inspired tens of thousands of people around the world.
Compared to bigger travel blogs, that might not be much - but my goal wasn't numbers.
My goal was to reach out to people everywhere - especially those with illness and from underserved communities - and show them possibility.
I Battled Diversity in Blogging
I admit, I got caught up. I started (excitedly) writing for top publications that despite claims to want to diversify their content, continued to edit out anything I wrote that pertained to being a person of color. From photos to clickbait titles to the content itself, they were always trying to generalize my work.
My inbox filled with concerned emails from minorities upset at the obvious censorship. My battle became a matter of making money vs. making a statement. I soon decided to stop writing for them and temporarily "suffer", financially.
It felt like a continuous fight trying to match the level of pretty blonde girls talking about how they keep up with fashion while they travel, and their challenges traveling while being "so hot".
Or the privileged, "OMG my two days volunteering with little poor children changed MY life".
Or the single and ready to mingle travelers who had nothing else to talk about but their latest "lust at first sight" / party story (no judgement - been there, done that).
Can we talk about anything else?
I also Battled Being Afro-Latina
I initially got caught up in the struggle of being Latina within the Black travel blogger community. I hate that I had to seek out this community to begin with, but as I often joked to my friends: it seems there can only be a few travel bloggers of color making it big in the mainstream (white) community at a time so we have to support each other (ugh, it sucks that I even have to write that).
So I sought new outlets, particularly Black network groups. This was a difficult feat, as I am a Latina who seems to be accepted as Black arbitrarily while other times cursed for being too "light skinned" (but am I, really?) or “Spanish” to be Black.
Example: I (stupidly) stressed over not being recognized by a popular Black traveler Instagram account that only (accidentally) featured "me" when my post highlighted a darker, African-American guest blogger. Yes, they actually posted a feature about my blog using her photo!
::Insert ridiculous tears - wahh, wahh, I'm not insta-famous::
This immediately confirmed my suspicion that I either wasn't dark enough or that I pissed someone off for referring to myself as Latina/Afro-Latina instead of Black (if you didn't know - yes, that is an issue).
For some, it is considered a rejection of our Blackness to call ourselves Latina. This understandably stems from the overwhelming number of Latinos who refuse to identify with their "Blackness" due to internalized racism (that's a whole 'nother article). But I use Black and Latina interchangeably. I love my blackness, brownness, and splashes of turquoise and coral. I don’t mind using the terms interchangeable.
One is a race. The other, ethnicity.
I'm Black. I am Latina. I am American. And I'm awesome.
Why did I feel like I needed my Blackness validated by other people of color?
Note: I am understand the need to feature darker women than I - and am happy to be a part of a movement that continues to push people of color forward. In my young desire to belong, I felt too brown to be recognized by mainstream media and too light to be recognized by the Black travel movement.
Eventually I stopped trying to match my peers. I stopped judging my image and work just because I wasn't the right shade or topic for a particular brand.
Someone gave me the best advice of my life in 2015. He said, "Why are you giving your best content away to other brands when you could build your own brand?"
He was referring to me wanting to be a writer for top digital and print publications.
My response at the time was simple: money. Not honor. Not pride. Just money.
That moment helped me realize I didn't want to be driven by money or social media success.
I want to inspire my siblings. Drive my friends. And give hope to those who have none.
I want to get my priorities straight. Money will come.
My Passion-driven Goals for the new year
I am excited to focus on my experience as a Black woman, Latina, American, girlfriend, sister, aunt, friend, natural, Lupus fighter, and HUMAN BEING without reservations.
I am excited to answer my surveyed database of hundreds of travel questions in a new (free) video series.
I am excited to share my "natural living" journey and information on my many wellness fails while traveling abroad.
I am excited to share more about my journey embracing a serious relationship after a lost ten-year one.
I am excited to share more reviews, photos, and insight on the places you should see around the world AND in the United States.
I am excited to start pursuing outside passions like learning to play the guitar (erghh....check in with me on that in three months).
And I am excited to remind you how to love your own country, yourself, your passions, and the earth you share with all living beings.
Happy New Year.
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