A girl wrote a modern-day model of the ‘Inexperienced Book’ to make journey extra inclusive
Martinique Lewis is a diverse travel consultant, creative director of Nomadness Travel Tribe and president of the Black Travel Alliance she founded.
At the beginning of the summer she also published the “ABC Travel Green Book”, a modern adaptation of Victor Hugo Green’s “The Negro Motorist Green Book”, which was first published in 1936.
She works hard to hold companies in the travel industry accountable and to make travel space more diverse and inclusive.
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In 1936, Victor Hugo Green, a black postal worker from New York, created the Negro Motorist Green Book, a guide for native black travelers to find restaurants, shops, and hotels where they would be free while facing the Jim Crow -Era. A year later, due to overwhelming demand, a national version was released.
In 2020, Martinique Lewis created a modern adaptation called The ABC Travel Green Book, which lists black-owned companies around the world, as well as black culture events, festivals, and tours.
According to Lewis, little has changed for black travelers 84 years after the original “Green Book” was published
“You will always be afraid [as a Black traveller] because there will always be racism, “she told Insider, adding that it doesn’t matter whether the racism is overt or not.
She explained that this is one of the things the ABC Travel Green Book is about. The self-published directory describes their own experiences in specific locations, details of whether there has been any recent hate crime and whether these locations have a black community.
“Blacks are afraid for safety,” she said. “The same racism that we experience here in our own country, we experience more here, but we can also experience it when we go abroad.”
Lewis was an avid traveler and tired of not showing up in travel ads and campaigns
Lewis, now a diversity travel consultant, worked in fashion until late 2017. However, once she noticed a lack of diversity in the travel industry and the fact that travel publications, tourist offices and travel companies were doing nothing to attract Black travelers, she couldn’t overlook it.
She decided that she wanted to help the travel industry change and that she had the financial incentive to do so. Lewis said she wanted to “make them understand how much the black consumer, the black traveler, is spending”. According to a report by Mandala Research, African Americans spent $ 63 billion on the U.S. travel and tourism industries in 2018 alone – and that’s just the U.S.
She adds that at the time she noticed the lack of representation, she also noticed black travel communities popping up online, which she believed had an impact on where black travelers went.
“We literally planned our itineraries based on what we saw on social media,” she said.
She decided to hold companies accountable
She quit her job and used her savings to preach the importance of diversity and inclusion at various conferences around the world. She asked companies to do more for color travelers.
Frustrated with a lack of action, she began creating testimonials for the industry, giving letter grades to well-known travel brands for their diversity and inclusion efforts on various metrics. This caused a stir, she said, and brands hired her to do in-house training and influencer trips.
She first heard about the original Green Book while working at Nomadness Travel Tribe, which Lewis calls “the oldest black travel movement in America.”
“I always thought, God, I had to do this. Because as a traveler I found these communities of blacks in places you never thought they would be, ”she said, adding that she wanted to share these unique experiences she had with others.
Amsterdam really gave her the idea of creating a modern version as she was surprised to find a huge black community in the Dutch city.
“It’s all black history, there are all these black restaurants, there is a black hospital, there are black cafes. There is a group dedicated to black women coming to Amsterdam, ”she said.
It took her almost two years to write the book
“Researching it was tough,” she said of the nearly two years it took her to put the book together. “These are things you can’t find on Google, not on Yelp. There’s no way to tell what the black-owned companies are if you don’t know about word of mouth or haven’t been there yourself. “
Right before giving up, she credits Blackout Tuesday on June 2, when people posted black squares on their social media feeds in protest against racism and police brutality and revived them to complete the book.
She said companies started reaching out to them to talk about diversity, and while the timing annoyed her (“Now all of a sudden you want to talk about black-owned companies?”) She said she felt that the book this could be a resource for allies too.
“What I’ve been trying to do with the Green Paper is to help people on their way, to patronize black-owned companies, to support and celebrate black culture in places where they normally wouldn’t have thought it possible.” Said Lewis. “I want people with a penchant for travel to take this book and explore these communities so they can learn something new.”
Blackout Tuesday also inspired her to found the Black Travel Alliance in June
She credits her frustration with brands that she claimed seldom worked with blacks, reached out to blacks, or really portrayed blacks in a meaningful way who suddenly promoted Black Lives Matter after Blackout Tuesday, with the impetus for the Black Travel Alliance she founded a week later.
“It’s not okay that our trauma is your trend right now,” she said.
According to Lewis, the alliance is meant to show the industry: “You have to do better, and now there’s someone here to hold you accountable for who you spoke out for.” Reinforcement, Alliance and Accountability are listed on their website as pillars of the Alliance’s community.
She said it also provides resources for members and helps with job placement (“Building African American Leadership In Tourism”), partnering with brands on diversity and inclusivity, and working on research that delves deeper into the subject, The Black Travel community, emerging trends and how much money black travelers spend worldwide – a first of its kind, according to Lewis.
Their hope for the future is that diversity is no longer an afterthought, but that it is paramount for brands
“I want people to say it and be serious. I don’t want people to just do it because it’s trending,” she said. “I would like to see brands just do better.”
Lewis believes the pandemic has shed light on the inequalities of travel and hopes for its future. She predicts that after the pandemic, when targets launch recovery campaigns, they will be much broader and more diverse than ever.
“I think now people just have better knowledge and are ready to move forward to make sure everyone is a part of [travel]. So I’m excited to actually see it, ”she said.
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