In traveling sphere, there isn’t so much diversity within travel bloggers or travel Instagrammers. The majority are White people, and they are more likely to be praised for similar works that POC travel Instagrammers/bloggers are doing. Several travel companies are often advertising with White people, even use them to promote a country that they are not even from. It is not to say that some White travelers aren’t doing great jobs or making a difference, because some of them are. It’s just that some People of Color (POC) or other few diverse populations (like travelers with disability) are not getting enough recognition that they deserved.
And this is also happening within the Deaf travel community. I scroll down Instagram #deaftravel or other popular hashtags that we use, and I noticed that the majority of Deaf travel Instagrammers are White – mostly coming from Europe, the USA, Australia or New Zealand. I’m not pointing fingers at White Deaf travelers nor am I shaming them. The problem is that seeing lack of diversity within Deaf travel community, so some Brown and Black Deaf people sometimes feel that traveling was just impossible for them, “unrealistic” even. Deaf people from over-exploited countries also feel this way often when noticing there are White Deaf travelers on social media. There is no doubt that some DeafBlind and DeafDisabled people may feel this way too. By the way, over-exploited countries are the language that I’ll now use instead of saying “developing countries” or “third-world countries” (I s still have a lot to learn).
Although I am Mexican (and born & raised in the USA), I am still light-skinned/white-passing. I initially struggle to accept this fact because I feel that I wasn’t “Mexican enough,” and I still struggle sometimes with my Latina identity but that’s a whole another story. Enough of my woes, because I still have the privilege of being light-skinned/white-passing Mexican-American. I also have other privileges: I am straight cisgender female, so I don’t need to be fearful of my safety just because of being of who I am. I am Deaf-sighted, meaning that I am not DeafBlind and don’t experience additional oppression from both worlds: Hearing people AND Deaf people. Should I name more? Actually, just read this post and I’ll ramble on more about this in a future post. So, what’s my point? Just because I am Mexican-American in Deaf travel sphere, it doesn’t mean our Deaf travel community is “finally diverse.” We still need more diverse stories in our Deaf travel community, just like in Hearing travel community where it still lacked diversity.
We often blame society for a lot of things but we are the society. Why wait for others to make changes? Why can’t we make changes?
Social media is one of the powerful tools to use nowadays. You can start a platform, make the hashtags trendings (like #DeafQueertravel, etc.), make vlogs or whatever you want. Use it if you could! Little by little, stories lead to finding a community.
And it’s especially harder in our own Deaf world because it’s pretty small. Their stories are not often shared throughout the world nor is it easy to find or see diverse Deaf content creators. Since I have the platform, I want to create a space that other diverse travelers can share their stories where the readers can personally relate to or learn something from it. I’ve decided to create a series here on my blog called,
Through their eyes
In this series, you’ll find diverse voices of the Deaf, Hard of Hearing, DeafBlind, DeafDisabled, Late-Deafened travelers. I will also occasionally include stories of Hearing people who are involved in Deaf communities and/or know sign language. Stories will be diverse, including but not limited to: LGBTQ+ Deaf travelers, solo Deaf travelers, traveling as Deaf People of Color (POC) and more.
This series is something that I’ve been wanting to do for years but never got around to it due to having several pieces of baggage of my own. I hope to not only create written stories for my blog but film the stories as well for my Facebook and YouTube to get their stories out there. It’s 2019, and some of the social issues are happening in different countries, especially where we feel like we are slipping back in old times again, like (cough) the USA.
It is really time to uplift other voices, support others’ voices if they are unable to. Know when to step back and let them share their own narrative – Black, Brown, LGBTQ+, DeafBlind, DeafDisabled, those who are raised and lives in over-exploited countries and whoever else.
Creating their spaces will make an impact and changes, slowly but surely.
Within your own community, are there any spaces that should be included?
Or what do you think of this?