Meet Erin and Stephen, the traveling couple behind Melanin Majority; an online space where travelers share stories, information and inspire each other. With professional backgrounds in journalism and digital marketing, they have combined their skills and love for travel to create an online presence for the passionate globe trotter. Join Griots Republic as we talk to the founders and discover what distinguishes them from the average travel blog.
Tell us a little about your background and what inspired you to create Melanin Majority.
Erin’s experiences are rooted in journalism, having worked for publications such as The Root, The Washington Post, OkayAfrica, and others. Stephen has a background in digital marketing, having worked at agencies in D.C. & NYC. Melanin Majority was born from our collective experiences traveling and living abroad.
Combined we have been to 27 countries and counting, including a 2-year stint teaching English abroad with the JET Program (Erin) and studying abroad in Rome (Stephen). In the U.S., people of color are bombarded with messages that remind us of our “minority” and second-class status that seeps into our consciousness and skews our view of the world and encourages us to play small. However, we have realized through our travels that this framework is false. The world is mostly melanated and the origins of it is as well, but global white supremacy has distorted the truth.
We believe it’s important for melanated millennial travelers (specifically Black ones) to see the world for themselves and recognize their majority status. It’s also important to recognize that travel isn’t a new fad—from “The Negro Traveler’s Green Book,” Matthew Henson’s discovery of the North Pole to Bessie Coleman, the first Black woman to earn a pilot’s license—it’s something our ancestors did by choice and force (the Middle Passage), and they were damn good at it. Additionally, we recognize that there can be obstacles to traveling abroad for melanated travelers, whether it be financial, comfort level, or lack of desire, so our mission is to lessen these barriers to entry, and empower travelers, creatives & wanderlusts by providing a platform of travel resources and inspiration.
How long has your blog been in existence?
Our blog has been a work in progress for the majority of 2016 as we built it ourselves while working full-time jobs, but we’ve had a strong Instagram presence since late 2015. We officially launched melaninmajority.com a couple of months ago.
We’ve seen an explosion of black travel blogs pop up on the scene in recent years. Was there concern about how you would stand out amongst the many blogs out there? In your opinion, what differentiates you from the others?
It’s been beautiful to witness and be a part of the Black travel movement. We ourselves have been inspired by Travel Noire, Nomadness Travel Tribe, and other like-minded platforms. But we’ve noticed the Black travel space is somewhat fragmented among individual tribes, so we feel there is a need to bring the diverse experiences of melanated travelers under one roof. We reflected on our lifestyle and the elements that are integral to our travel experiences such as stories, travel deals, soulful music, engaging videos, travel essentials, and wanted to share them with other travelers, and invite them to do the same on our platform.
What makes Melanin Majority different is that it’s not a platform centering around our personal travels, but highlights the collective experiences of melanated globetrotters. We believe strongly that building together is critical, especially within this current political climate, so we are all about collaboration and showcasing the vast perspectives of travelers and creatives.
What do you hope to accomplish with your blog? Are there plans to branch out into other areas such as planned trips and events?
We think it’s dope to give a platform to travelers & creatives. Our goal is to establish ourselves as the go-to hub for travel vibes. We’ve thought about entering the event space, but timing is everything. For now, we’re promoting other Black travel experiences at melaninmajority.com. Our primary focus right now is increasing brand awareness and building our platform along with our contributor network. Stay tuned…
We all know travel can be inspiring, life-changing and awaken something inside that you never knew was there. What surprising lessons have you learned during your travels and living abroad experiences?
One of the biggest lessons we’ve learned on the road is that the world is mostly melanated, and some of the greatest monuments and achievements were accomplished by those too-often-forgotten people. Secondly, our eyes were opened to the reality that white supremacy is a global epidemic that manifests itself through self-hatred such as body modification i.e. skin bleaching as well as class divisions. Surprisingly, we’ve realized overseas that we’ve been identified more so by our nationality as Americans than our race, although that doesn’t diminish the role race can play in daily interactions. We’ve also learned that travel shouldn’t be framed as a luxury, but is very much a necessity for self-awareness and self-care.
I noticed you caption the travel photos you feature on your IG page with very encouraging and uplifting quotes. A lot of IG travel pages can come off a little shallow, however, your inspirational quotes add a refreshing twist in a sea of typical travel photo pages. What’s your thought process behind adding these quotes?
In the spirit of empowerment, we believe the visual element is as important as the words spoken. Other IG accounts share practical travel tips or have another goal altogether, but we aim to inspire. As enriching and expanding as traveling can be, it can sometimes be a draining exercise, so “food for the soul” daily is necessary for travelers and wanderlusts. By curating unapologetically melanated images paired with inspirational quotes and affirmations, we aim to fill up the soul of the traveler. When the soul is empowered, everything else follows.
What are some of your favorite books or movies that help fuel your passion for travel?
We’re both fans of documentaries. We’ve been really inspired by Tariq Nasheed’s “Hidden Colors” docuseries, especially the second installment “The Triumph of Melanin.” As for books, we both love “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho because it’s a traveler’s story about following one’s dreams and believing in pronoia, that the Universe conspires in your favor.
What can we expect from MelaninMajority.com in the coming year?
We’re looking to establish ourselves as an authority in the Black travel space, speaking especially to the soulful traveler. We want to bring likeminded travelers and creatives together through content and events in addition to doing more musical collaborations (DJs are some of the biggest travelers). Furthermore, we would like to promote more melanin-made, travel-specific products and increase our charitable efforts. In a nutshell, BUILD more, collaborate more with whomever in the space shares the same values and mindset. We’re much stronger together than a part.
Any parting words?
We’re looking to connect with melanated travelers of all backgrounds to share their travel experiences and perspectives on our platform as well as DJs for music collaborations, and Black businesses for travel products.
Finally, it’s only right to end this with an affirmation, “the evolution within you creates revolution in the world.” Travel unapologetically melanated.
For more of information on Melanin Majority, follow them at www.melaninmajority.com
FB, IG & Twitter: @melaninmajority