2020 Is the Summer of the Road Trip. Unless You’re Black.

2020 Is the Summer of the Road Trip. Unless You’re Black.

2020 Is the Summer of the Road Trip. Unless You’re Black.

2020 Is the Summer of the Road Trip. Unless You’re Black.

“If something goes wrong, I need someone to know where I am or where I’ve been,” he said.

Nisha Parker, a special-education teacher in Bakersfield, Calif., loves to drive and doesn’t want to allow fear about what could go wrong to stop her. She also wants her two children to see America’s landscapes, she said. So this summer her family will drive across the country from their hometown to New York.

But Ms. Parker, 32, said that she can’t imagine just being able to pack up and go without a plan, like some white families might be able to do.

So for the last six months, she has been meticulously planning their journey. She knows which towns her family will stop in, which they’ll drive straight through, and which they’ll avoid entirely. She also knows which stretches of the road her children won’t be allowed to drink juice or water on, to avoid bathroom breaks in towns where the family could encounter racism or violence based on their race.

“We try not to stop in places that are desolate and we try to only stop in cities for gas,” she said. “If we have to stop for gas in a rural area, we use a debit card so we don’t have to go into the gas station store. If we are going to stay somewhere overnight, we look at the demographics to make sure we aren’t going to a place where we would be the only black people or where we would be targeted, especially at night.”

Ms. Parker grew up road tripping with family between New York and North Carolina, and her parents took similar precautions. She and her husband have also considered getting a dashboard camera, so that if they are stopped by police and things turn deadly there is some record of it.

In a way, Facebook groups for black travelers and group chats have become the 21st-century version of the “Green Book.” People talk about where they’ve been and follow in each other’s footsteps, sharing where they were treated well and where they felt uncomfortable or unsafe. Many stay in the same hotels, eat at the same restaurants or skip the same towns.

“We go where our friends and family have gone because we know that it’s safe,” said Dianelle Rivers-Mitchell, founder of Black Girls Travel Too, a group tour company for black women. “During this moment, with the protests as a backdrop, and as our community deals with how we were harder hit by coronavirus and we risk facing even more discrimination based on that, I just don’t see road-tripping being it for us.”


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