Black people and adventure don’t mix.
So says the old stereotype that many of us tend to wear as a badge of honor. It’s the notion that has people blinded to the fact that adventure is actually good. More often than not, the act of embarking on a thrilling escapade is rooted in self-love and a willingness to live fully rather than to simply risk ones life or well being as some presume.
Let me define what I mean by adventure. It could be anything from skydiving to traveling solo to a country you’ve never been to. At times you may be doing something without realizing you’re embarking on an adventure. For me I think of the time I traveled to Ghana to produce a few video stories. I was a one-woman band with my laptop, camera, and tripod in tow. I hopped in and out of cabs, took several buses to cities outside of Accra, shivered a bit when I wasn’t sure where I was, and smiled as a got to know the family that hosted me. Looking back, I see it as one of my biggest adventures.
There was also the time I took a trip to Dubai for my cousin’s destination wedding. I had heard so much about the desert safari trip, so it was at the top of my to-do list by the time we landed. When I finally made it through the initial ride to the desert, which was meant to feel like a roller coaster, I felt so powerful as I climbed onto my personal quad bike, revved it up, and rode through the track they map out for tour goers. The camel ride was even more exhilarating. As the gentle animal lifted its body carrying my cousins and me, my heart began to race. I couldn’t believe how tall it actually stood.
But beyond the adventure of travel and thrill seeking, I believe adventure comes naturally in many other forms. Especially when we consider how far we go when our backs are up against the wall, or when we’re looking to do something amazing for someone else.
I think of the time my sister, who lives in Miami, drove all the way to New York City to make sure she was at my daughter’s first birthday party. Her flight was canceled at the last minute and she couldn’t get another flight so she rented a car and took my niece and nephew on the 24-hour journey by road. It’s a trip I’m sure her children will never forget. They will always remember how brave their mom was that day; how she faced her fear of heights each time she had to drive across one of the many tall bridges she met on the path to Brooklyn. But through sweaty palms and determination, she made it. It’s a gesture I will always treasure. It was the kind of adventure that involved both determination and love.
I also think of women like Bree Newsome—who had to train to scale the 30-foot pole at the South Carolina Capitol to take down the confederate flag, all in the name of social justice.
And then there’s Veronica Garnett, founder of Black Adventuristas, who is our first feature for the week. After suffering from years of depression, Veronica picked herself up and decided to conquer her fear of heights. Completing her first adventure set the gears in motion for her to change her life as she embarked on one thrill after another. It also prompted her to create a community that inspires other women to do the same. Through Black Adventuristas, which boasts thousands of followers on Instagram, black women can now see themselves represented as people who are indeed adventurous, outdoorsy, daring, and most of all free. It’s the image we all need to see whether or not we plan to jump off of a cliff, scale a pole, take a 24-hour rode trip, or travel to an unknown place solo. At least we know it’s possible and that women who look like us are indeed doing it, enjoying it, inspiring others, and daring to be without even considering those who seek to keep them in a box.
Black people and adventure do mix. Please don’t think otherwise.