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Never Let The Darkness Of Others Prevent You From Experiencing The World

Kira Bereton is one of many black travellers and minority nomads who has taken on the world. She explains why black travellers should never let the negative experiences of others prevent them from travelling the world.

Kira Bereton is no stranger to travelling. She has been travelling ever since she was a child, and has been exploring the world ever since. 

As a high-powered attorney, life can get pretty stressful at times and one of the ways Kira likes to relax and unwind is through her globetrotting adventures.

Her adventures have taken her to 5 different continents and to more than 50 countries and she shows no signs of slowing down yet.

Quenching The Travel Bug

She visits a new country approximately 10-12 times a year and as a result, she has seen much of the world.

As a child, she would regularly visit Panama and places in the Carribean, until she attended university in Montreal. After meeting many international friends there, she began to travel independently to visit her friends from around the world.

This was to be a taste of things to come for Kira hasn’t stopped travelling since. 

One of her most memorable experiences was when she worked for the World Health Organization with other black travellers as part of her internship at the United Nations.

She said: “Working for the United Nations was phenomenal. I was in my early 20s at the time and being among thought leaders that were running programmes for child and adolescent healthcare was amazing. Because I was in Geneva I had the opportunity to venture out into neighbouring countries and explore those as well every weekend while I was in Switzerland. It was a really great experience being there.”

Travelling While Black

However, while travelling has given Kira so many powerful and unique memories, like many other black travellers, she encountered many challenges as a person of colour. This was especially the case in China.

“I was in China with a group of people in the year 2000 and everybody was coming up and taking pictures as if we were a spectacle in a zoo, so that was pretty interesting. In Beijing, people were snapping random pictures of me all over the place. It was apparent that they were not used to seeing black people. So we became a bit of a spectacle. At times that was a little bit overwhelming having all these people take snapshots as if they were the paparazzi.”

However, it was not just the overt reactions that people had which presented challenges to Kira as a person of colour. There were also times when sexual stereotypes of black women led Kira to fear for her safety. She recounted one time when she was attending an international conference where female black travellers from all over the world would meet every two years in different parts of the globe to discuss issues that impacted black women.

She added: “I was in Japan in my early 20s and me and a group of other girls who were also black decided to go clubbing. At the time, the monastery had a curfew and opened art 6am so we decided to stay out clubbing until it opened at 6am. We found a nightclub and went into it. In the US at the time there were a lot of hyper sexual hip hop videos, bordering on pornography, that would come on late at night. 

“When we walked into the club and we were there for 5-10 minutes before they changed the video screens to this very graphic, borderline pornographic hip hop video that they had access to. I started to feel very strongly about why hip-hop videos like that were a very negative thing. They certainly could have played hip hop that was not graphic – but this is what they chose.

“Unlike China, people in Tokyo were not shocked to see black people. But they clearly had a perception in their mind of what black women were. The thing that was quite tragic about it is that we were there to attend a sex trafficking conference and yet we were confronted with these types of issues. In retrospect. That could have ended up really badly.”

Seeing The World For What It Is

However, despite these strange experiences, for Kira, the best thing about travelling was learning directly about the world rather than simply seeing one view of it that is shown in the West.

“It is important to try to understand the narratives and different perspectives of others so that you can form your own opinion of how things should be perceived. When you travel you get to hear the stories of the people who are hidden. And you get to also share the stories of the people that are hidden.

“I travel based upon what I learn. For example, while I was in egypt, I learned about how the Sudanese, which are the modern day nubian people intercepted with the Egyptian empire. I learned about how much of a power struggle the two empires had in history. I also learned about the strong contribution the Sudanese made to the Egyptian empire. Learning things about the countries I visited made me want to learn more. It made me want to dig deeper and try to find the stories that people are not elevating. I think there’s power in that.”

Don't Let Fear Hold You Back

Kira believes that it is important not to take the negative stories that you hear about a country prevent you from going. She encourages anyone who is afraid of the unknown to take the leap and talk to people who have been to the countries that they are thinking of going.

However, although it is a good idea to take advice from those who have been before us, it is equally as important to not be swayed by any negative stories one may hear.

Kira added: “Often times you hear things from people who are pinning locations in a negative light and they are viewing things from their own personal lens and experiences. Whereas you could go to the same location and have a tremendously incredible time.

“You can’t let the fears and negative experiences of other black travellers limit you from having your own incredible life experiences. There are also so many resources now that make it easy to travel solo. For example there are many expat groups overseas that you can tap into if you feel uncomfortable being out on your own. You can also get an idea from them about the kind of places where it makes sense for people to travel solo. You can also meet up with people.” 

Kira Brereton is a Finance Attorney and a Low-Cost Luxury Travel Financial Strategist. You can access some of her training regarding low-cost luxury travel at KiraBrereton.com/training. You can find her on Instagram on @TravelBecomesMe and over at www.kirabrereton.com

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