For friends new to the Daniels Clan, unaware of who WE are formally, we are a innovation driven, geek empowered and socially good centered family of ATLiens [native to Atlanta, Georgia] who became enchanted by Northern New Mexico 12 years ago and are blessed to call the High Desert nuestra casa.
As a kid growing up in the 70s, I often muse we are LITERALLY the ATL transplant, Black American, Southwest incarnation of Green Acres. We didn’t choose Hooterville, but without question, Taos Mountain and her beautiful community of Taoseños chose us.
ENCHANTMENT WHILE BLACK (EWB), is our family operated Travel and TURO transportation service fueling the wanderlust dreams of Brown and Black adventure travelers to Northern New Mexico and Northern Arizona.
Frequently, by mostly non-BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) people, I am asked to explain the reasoning for our business name; and in some cases, to defend the need for a travel service in 2022 that centers the experiences of Travelers of Colors. After all, does it really matter who coordinates and hosts your travel experiences?
The short answer. Damn right it does!
Permit me to share a recent experience I encountered while working to establish a partner account with the travel booking and payment platform, WeTravel.
I was [socially] introduced to WeTravel by way of a Nomadness Fest Instagram post and completely stoked to discover their services. An intuitive and engaging platform to support EWB multi-day, multi-group, travel immersions, in addition to a company that is CLEARLY an ally [let alone, Nomadness Travel Tribe sponsor] of BIPOC travelers? Sweet right?
Unfortunately, the behind the scenes communications and overall engagement experience with WeTravel has been FAR from sweet and disappointedly, biased and discriminatory.
For posterity, I had initially included in this post screen shots of my WeTravel communications to tell the story of what Black business owners often encounter when attempting to simply establish, run and promote their business. It is the ‘poll tax’ of doing most ANYTHING “while black”. This includes doing business from a magical hub in New Mexico.
I have now removed the communications with WeTravel leaders because ultimately I decided a company blatant in denying me equity, does not deserve to hold space here, where WE (me, my family, my community) thrive.
What did I find the most disturbing about the shared communications?
- They represent a 9-email exchange addressing my concern of biased and discriminatory business practices, yet no leader/manager at WeTravel considered my concerns important enough to seek a dialogue beyond email. Two words sum up my customer experience: devalued + diminished.
- These communications took place AFTER I submitted ALL of the requested Trust & Verification requirements, identified via my Enchantment While Black WeTravel profile.
- These communications took place AFTER my Google Meet REQUESTED demo of the WeTravel platform that included a review of our WeTravel profile, business website and the EWB travel itineraries I’d already created. Correct; on 8/22 a WeTravel associate saw and spoke with me virtually. We met for over 1 hour and even scheduled a follow-up meeting on 8/29 to check on my progress.
- I established our EWB WeTravel account and submitted the first round of required business documentation on August 19th. Although the dashboard message indicates verification is a 2-3 day process, it is August 27th and we have yet to receive the status of our pending verification. No follow-up, in any form, from the person in charge of the process has been provided.
- My initial questions regarding the integrity of the 15-question questionnaire have yet to be answered by any leader/manager at WeTravel.
- The apology came AFTER many lengthy exchanges where the (2) WeTravel reps communicating with me continued to speak in broad stroked talking points; attempting to diminish my concerns by reminding me of WeTravel’s online commitment to “amplifying black women’s voices” and support of Evita Robinson/Nomadness. This is often referred to as the “we have Black friends” response.
WE are Black everywhere and all the time. And for any simple life activity (e.g. watering flowers, birdwatching, swimming, shopping, drinking coffee, walking through a hotel lobby, driving, watching TV at home, sleeping, working and yes, vacationing and running a business) we are too often confronted with unexplained and unapologetic instances of bias and discrimination.
Any partner doing business with ENCHANTMENT WHILE BLACK should know trusted allies are ALWAYS welcomed and appreciated. Discriminatory practices directed at our family or business, and/or EWB Guests or community partners will not be tolerated and NEVER ignored.
To our 2023 EWB Travelers, the Daniels Clan is excited to host and transport you in the Land of Enchantment! Magic, adventure and sweet, sweet lemonade is waiting ON TAP. We stand with you and for you. We see you.
To WeTravel, use this experience as a guide to make necessary improvements on how you engage prospective partners who look like me. Establish a set of culturally informed best practices to support Diversity, Equity and Inclusion engagement; internally and externally.
To reiterate, “talking and socializing print Equity is easy. Embracing and embodying the commitment to demonstrate it is where the real work is”.
Start there. Do better. EQUITY MATTERS.
– Luckie | Mama Bear. Curator Extraordinaire. Soul + Culture Adventurer.
BONUS READS, VIEWS, EXPERIENCES:
- Reclaiming the globe – Evita Robinson / TED
- What It Means to Be a Black Traveler – Travel + Leisure
- The Past, Present, and Future of the Nation’s First Black-Owned Travel Agency, Henderson Travel Service – Condé Nast Traveler
- Traveling While Black – Oculus Go
- 10 Travelers on What It Really Means to Be a Traveler of Color – Travel + Leisure
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