GoAbroad was lucky enough to score an interview with Alishia Richardson and Randi Williams, the co-founders of WeGoToo, a website dedicated to helping black travelers find and share helpful travel tips for future international ventures.
WeGoToo offers many different services and black travel resources. They organize passport drives, provide invaluable advice on their website, and host Jetwork travel programs for urban professionals to meet and network with others interested in meaningful travel around the world. In fact, the next one is in Belize!
Get to know Alishia, Randi, and their mission more in the video below.
My name is Alishia Richardson. I’m one-half of WeGoToo, and my life goal would be to visit every continent at least twice.
I am Randi Williams. I am the other half of WeGoToo, and a life goal of mine is pretty much to have the freedom to travel wherever I want, whenever I want. I’m getting closer by the day.
What is WeGoToo?
WeGoToo is an urban travel resource dedicated to assisting minorities navigate their international travel. So on our website – which is our chosen platform – we provide information that’s relevant to minority needs, their concerns, and their interests. As well as provide a space for these travelers of color to share information from their own personal travels.
[Learn More: What is Study Abroad?]
What is the best part of your job?
It’s wonderful to sit and chat with all the students, and hear about where they are going to study abroad, what they want to do, and they’re just so young, eager, and excited. It reminds me of my youth. It reminds me of when I was studying abroad, and it’s just a great feeling to know that these kids are really gungho for getting this international experience.
What might prevent people of color from traveling?
In my opinion, I think that particularly in the African-American community there is a huge fear of the unknown, and particularly with older generations. They’ve seen a little bit more of how things have been, and some of the challenges that can face the African-American community. They want to protect their kids and their family members, and so they want to keep them close to home.
I also think that there is just lack of exposure. People don’t know that they can go abroad, that they can study abroad, that they can go overseas, and it’s not that difficult. There are always ways to go about it. A lot people think it’s expensive – and not saying it’s not – but there are ways to make it happen for everyone.
When have you experienced racism while traveling?
People are often just really unfamiliar with what African-Americans are, what our culture is, and they have a lot of ideas about who we are from television and movies. Which can be a very, very inaccurate portrayal of us as a people.
I remember once we were in the DR [Dominican Republic] and we were chatting with some local guy, and he was like “talk black,” and we were like— what? We’ve been talking to you for months, and this is how we talk, so what do you mean? And, we’re black, so what is “talking black?” And we were in the DR, you know, and they are black as well.
Have you ever experienced colorism abroad?
We were teaching at an English center in the capital, Santo Domingo, and one of my students told me that I was a really pretty. She was like, “You’re such a pretty black girl! You remind me of Beyonce.” And, I was like “Oh my god, I’m so touched! Thank you. She’s one of my favorite people...that’s so interesting.” I was like, “a lot of people think that I’m Haitian here.” And she said, “Really? But, you’re pretty! Why would they think that you are Haitian?” So, we definitely experienced a lot of that for sure.
Why do you think black travel is important?
Travel is important for so many reasons. You gain a global perspective which is increasingly important in the world that we live in now. Even just speaking career wise, people in jobs want to know that you’re able – that you are globally competent – and that you can work with people from different cultures, and things like that. That’s one reason why travel is specifically important.
Also, it teaches you how to go with the flow, to solve challenges, and to make a way for yourself. When you travel, nothing is going to go as planned. [laughs] Very few things are going to go exactly as planned, and you have to learn to negotiate that and manage that.
What can you learn from travel?
You gain an appreciation for the challenges that are similar and the challenges that are different than in your own country. So you’re going to see that there is racism and colorism everywhere – that’s just one commonality – but you might see that it’s not as overt or it’s different in whatever way. It kind of grounds you as well. You realize that sometimes maybe we don’t have it that bad in America or just that I appreciate the things and opportunities that I have been afforded, because of the family that I was born into in America.
[Learn More: Does Meaningful Travel Even Matter?]
What advice do you have for other travelers of color?
I would say to say ‘yes’ as much as possible. You are in this new experience. You’re experiencing a new culture, new people, new food, and all these different things. At least for me, someone telling me that I should say yes just made sense. When you’re there, there are just so many different things to be doing and trying, and if you’re not open to it you are going to miss out on a great experience.
So, just say yes as much as possible, while of course staying safe. [Say yes] within reason, but just experience everything that you can. Especially if you don’t know when is the next time you are going to be abroad. You want to make sure that you are taking full advantage of your opportunity.
Keep Reading: More Black Travel Resources
- Meaningful Travel Tips & Tales: African American Perspectives ← Free, downloadable eBook!
- 4 ESL Teaching Tips for Black Teachers
- 5 Tips for Teaching Abroad as a Person of Color
- Our Favorite African American Study Abroad Scholarships