Notes on Travel Ban, Politics, and Human Geography

“Because you are so different from me, I do not trust you”…..Trump’s executive order boiled down to layman’s terms.

The current travel ban by the new US administration has opened up a lot of old wounds.

It has picked at long dried-up scabs which were plastered up by a different passport color. Banning people from traveling to the US with the wide sweeping discriminatory stroke of a pen clouded by fear ripped up that bandage, poked two fingers into it, and made it bleed once again.

Because you see, that action continues to fan the flames of fear, not reduce them. It continues to incite hate and not build much needed bridges to understanding. It continues to say, because you are different, I do not trust you.

In 2015, I wrote an op-ed piece for the World Travel & Tourism Council titled “My Little Green Book” which talked about what it felt like to travel on my forest green Nigerian passport for decades before changing color.

In that piece, I wrote that the beautiful irony is that my little green book opened up the world to me. While doors were being slammed, it stubbornly wedged itself through the cracks and got me in. It filled me with an undeniable resolve and passion to keep exploring and learning about the world around me, and above all, truly listening to people and their cultures and why they believe and live the way they do.

It forced people to see me, deal with me, and learn about me even when they weren’t ready to. And in my own way, I began to chip away at their biases, distrust, and discomfort around people they didn’t encounter every day.

Many of us already know travel is crucial to fighting prejudice and battling hate. Travel forces us to deal with people who are polar opposites of us – from different values and beliefs to religion, orientation, political views, and traditions.

“Because you are so different from me, I do not trust you”.

Those are subconscious words I still battle today even here in Sweden and I consider myself privileged to be able to run my own business and do what I love everyday amidst a cultural system that naturally doesn’t favor outsiders. I see it, feel it, and continue to fight it as a black African woman.

Now more than ever, it is essential to dust off your passport or get one if you’ve never had one, and see how you can incorporate some travel into your life. Yes, circumstances and lifestyle situations may prevent you from venturing as far out as you’d like but for the sake of humanity, venture.

For the sake of your soul, venture out…

Baby steps out your backdoor and around your local neighborhood to that person who looks nothing like you, speaks nothing like you, and doesn’t believe the same you do.

Look them straight in the eye because the one thing you both share is your basic humanity.

That is what we need to protect at all costs. Our fundamental right to exist as living breathing human beings.