Monday, June 28, 2010

Mixed Folks Welcome on the Road?

Hi Meltingpot Readers,

We're heading home today. Reverse road trip. I've packed the snacks, recharged all essential batteries and kissed all of my loved ones goodbye.

Here's a question for all of my color-ful readers. When you plan a road trip and you have to overnight somewhere in the middle of the country, does it ever occur to you that you might land in a region where "your kind" aren't welcome? I do. As I was searching for a clean off-road hotel/motel to stop at on our way home, which would either be in the middle of Ohio or Pennsylvania, I paused for a minute. I had to wonder if we might encounter some, let's say Sarah-Palin supporters who like guns and don't like Black people, or worse, Black people with White husbands who have thick accents. Yikes.

I was kind of kidding when I voiced my concerns to my family. But kind of not. As I was scanning TripAdvisor looking for reviews of one hotel that seemed decent, I noticed one satisfied reviewer was using the Confederate flag as his symbol of identity. Hello! Then my parents admitted that when they drive cross-country or to the south, they ALWAYS, stay in a big city, never in one of those off the highway motels. Not because they don't do motels, but because they don't do scary White people who don't like Black people. (No offense White people. In no way am I suggesting all White people are like this. I'm simply referencing a certain type of person who really hasn't progressed much past 1864.)

So, Meltingpot readers, what do you do? Do you have a way of knowing if you're staying in a welcoming place? Do you just take your chances or maybe not worry about this at all? I know I was wishing that one of TripAdvisor's categories of rating a hotel was "diversity friendly." What do you think?

I'm listening ... while I'm driving.



iamatraveler said...

"Diversity friendly" ha, I like that! I agree with your parents, I would try to stick with hotels in major cities as well. With the climate of our nation as turbulent as it is due to the fact that we have a Black President, I wouldn't chance my or my family's safety right now for convenience.

Heather said...

Oh, this post hits so close to home for me! This is such a big thing for us--- something I have thought a LOT about. For a long time now I've been wanting to write a big huge long blog post on this subject--- but the thought of it just exhausts me before I even begin typing it. OH HOW I WISH THERE WAS A 'diversity friendly' CUE ON TRIPADVISOR!!!!!! I can't even tell you how often I've thought about that. I wind up going through the reviews and contacting the individual reviewers via email. I do this for VRBO and all the other travel sites I use too. I get a sense of the reviewers by corresponding with them, and then, whenever possible, I straight out ask them about their thoughts on how our family would be received. I explain who we are, what we look like, etc., and I ask them directly about their thoughts on how the destination might receive us. I also often will contact destinations directly and inquire point-blank about this topic. I will often correspond with a dozen different people on this subject before we commit to a travel destination. Seriously. I know this probably makes me seem crazy or hyper-vigilant or something, but really--- I am HUGE on this. We will not travel places that we know or suspect won't be friendly to us. We will go way out of our way to go places where we believe they will be friendly to us. We actively avoid places we are concerned will feel "scary" where this stuff is concerned. We travel quite a bit as a family, and this (the 'diversity friendly' stuff) is huge huge huge for us. I could go on and on and on on this subject! Thanks for raising it!

LT said...

Good points and I agree.

Nice to "hear" you again on the Meltingpot! And so good to know that I'm not the only one who thinks like this. We have to, for our children's sake. I think I posted about this before we went to a certain amusement park in the middle of pennsylvania. perhaps you've been? I was pleasantly surprised although I did my diversity homework before even mentioning it to my kids.

Frenchie said...

I went to undergrad in Tallahassee, FL. It was as Deep South as you can get and the 8 hr drive there from Miami was like a scene out of Mississippi Burning. I also drove a few times from Tally to ATL. On those drives, I never drove alone, avoided driving late at night, never stopped no small towns or deserted locations. the few times that I was pulled over by the police, I let them follow me until I reached a well-lit and well populated rest stop! I only stopped for gas or snacks in the next big city where confederate flags were not prominently displayed on every pick up truck. It's sad that I had to do this in the 21st century but my safety and peace of mind are too important to risk

Frenchie said...

@Heather I completely understand how you feel. I noticed that most TripAdvisor reviews are written from one perspective. I could scarcely find a straight answer about questions like whether or not I could find a hair salon before I arrived in Cairo. Once I got here though, I realized that a blog from a different perspective was more than necessary! mixed families, black people, and interracial couples are treated poorly here. I'm so glad I dont have children that would've been exposed to such mistreatment! I've tried to blog about all the things Lonely planet and Trip Advisor neglect to mention