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Black Girls Travel: Creating Fugitive Spaces for Adolescent Black Girl Identity Formation through Roots Tourism

Authors: Theresa Hice Fromille*, University of California - Santa Cruz
Topics: Tourism Geography, Africa
Keywords: black geography, youth, tourism, fugitive space
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In 2018, BlackGirlTravel (BGT), a community-based roots travel organization (CBRTO) for adolescent Black girls based in the East San Francisco Bay, led eight participants on a 10-day excursion to Johannesburg and Durban, South Africa. In this paper, I utilize ethnographic fieldwork, participatory methods, and radical Black feminist epistemologies to better understand the impact of travel on the rising roots tourism demographic that this organization represents – Black youth. This work seeks to understand how the CBRTO’s Black feminist curriculum – which highlights the hetero-patriarchal white supremacist spatial constructions enforced by Western nations – influences participant racial identity formation. The central findings of this research include the following: 1) Adolescent Black girls understand their self-identification and racial group cohesion through a diasporic imagining; 2) Racial group cohesion based on a diasporic imagining is challenged when the girls travel outside of the United States, but BGT curriculum assists the girls in confronting these challenges; 3) CBRTOs like BGT offer adolescent Black girls a fugitive space for racial identity development. By focusing on the third preliminary finding, my presentation contends that BGT creates a space of fugitivity that influences the identity formation of adolescent Black girls. This claim supports McKittrick’s (2006) assertion that “Black matters are spatial matters” (p. xii; Hawthorne, 2019); however, I suggest that such matters must also consciously account for the specific matters pertaining to Black youth.

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