Dispatches: Conversations with Writers of Color on Race, Place & Adventure is a series of interviews with travel writers and personalities of color where we discuss navigating the writing industry and the globe as people of color. Read previous #Dispatches here and get involved here.
In September 2011 Evita Robinson created the Nomadness Travel Tribe, an online social community for travelers who have the similarity of an urban background and were looking for likeminded travelers to connect with around the world. Based on the success of her business, Evie was named one of Clutch Magazine’s “11 Black Women Inspiring Us To Travel”, and the Tribe’s first ever NomadnessX group trip to Panama was featured in the July 2012 Issue of Ebony Magazine. She now serves as a keynote speaker, crowdfunding consultant, and continues her love of travel photography and seeing the world with Nomadness.
Bani Amor: Tell us about yourself. What do you do and why do you do it?
Evita Robinson: I’m the creator of the Nomadness Travel Tribe. A Crowdfunding Guru of sorts. International Dweller. Why? Passion. I have been lucky enough to recognize and accept the responsibility associated with my purpose in life.
Bani: How did Nomadness come about?
Evita: Nomadness started as a blog and video web series of me traveling around the world. Nomadness TV was the first time people heard the brand name. This was back in Feb. 2010 during the last two months of me living in Niigata, Japan. The Tribe came about in September 2011 as an answer to a problem I was having in not finding a diverse travel community I wanted to engage with on the internet. No one in my immediate network and family traveled like me, so it was hard finding people I could relate to in the travel lifestyle.
Bani: And you were like, why not start my own?
Evita: Exactly. I’m like that with everything in life. If it isn’t what I want or need, I do it myself.
Bani: I think we’re living in this age now where creators of color have the tools and access to be able to start brands, social networks and projects themselves and are getting these big audiences because of it. There’s definitely entrepreneurial spirit there but it’s also kind of radical, to create spaces for ourselves where they don’t exist, and should.
Evita: I agree with that. I also think we are fulfilling many needs that mainstream media simply isn’t.
Bani: Why do you think mainstream travel media lacks so much diversity? Were you surprised that Nomadness took off and became what it is today then?
Evita: I think mainstream media is full of fear and grossly out of touch with how diverse the world truly is right now, especially for millenials. Fear in that they are scared to do something different and ‘outside the box’ for them. The world is changing and the risks are being taken by people who approach the industry with nothing to lose. These companies are shook to put it all on the line.
Nomadness surprised me in that I simply didn’t know what I was creating. Didn’t know I was going to be doing trips, have an online store, do an RV Tour, build a conference, have 9000 members…I didn’t know this was what was being created.
Bani: Word. So I heard you just signed a deal with Issa Rae Productions. Can you tell us more about that?
Evita: Yea we signed a few months back. It’s a distribution deal so they can broadcast out travel web series ‘The Nomadness Project’ on her Youtube Channel. Issa’s a really great supporter of ours and vice versa. We’ve been having meet ups around the States for her book tour this month. She’s met so many of us.
Bani: That’s so awesome! So what’s in store for the future?
Evita: September 2015 kicking ass with our new #NMDN ALTERnative Travel Conference in NYC. Continuing to galavant around the world with the Tribe to show that we are everywhere, and we do this – our way. Strategic partnerships with other innovators and influencers that truly get the concept of pushing the envelope (i.e. Issa Rae). Our own travel television series breaking stereotypes on who travelers are. Moving off of Facebook and creating our own platform that, in itself, is unlike anyone else in our sector.
Bani: Why is it important to break the stereotype of what a traveler looks like, who they are?
Evita: Because it is currently invalid. There is a whole, large section of the story missing. Ours.
Bani: Are there obstacles in the way for folks trying to rectify that?
Evita: I mean…generic red tape but honestly that depends on which route you are trying to take. Mine involves unique avenues because I have specific goals for Nomadness and myself. But that is going to be something that varies across the board.
Bani: Well it seems like you’ve been able to avoid a lot of bs, and that’s great.
Evita: Can’t say I avoid it. We just don’t showcase it. Telling me ‘no’ is the same as telling me ‘yes’. I don’t hear ‘no’. Maybe ‘not now’, but not ‘no’. I also don’t take ‘no’ personally. I am told ‘no’ wayyyyyyy more than I am ever told ‘yes’. That comes with the territory. Fail better. It means you are actually taking chances.
Bani: Fail better. My new new year’s resolution!
Evita: A ‘no’ has just never had the power to stop me. I could hear ‘no’ on Monday, and so many dope ‘yes’s’ pop up on Wednesday and Friday, no one remembers the beginning of the week.
Bani: Last question: do you think it’s important for poc to have our own travel spaces? Why or why not?
Evita: I think it’s important for people of color to be an actual part of the conversation more than anything. We haven’t been, so we have had no choice but to create our own spaces. And yes, it is important, because it’s ours. Too many times we give up ownership of our culture and talents too freely. Having something that is ours is so important. I also like that you use the term ‘people of color’ because that’s just it. We are an array. One of the things I love about Nomadness, that differentiates us in this ‘black travel movement’, is that we are representative of all people of color, not just black. We scale about 80% African-American beautifully, but we also have Latino(a), Native American, Caucasian, Asian, Pacific Islanders, the list goes on and on. We more accurately depict the world we live in and travel through.
Bani: And that’s what’s so refreshing about it. Any last thoughts you’d like to add? (btw, an egg account on Twitter wanted me to ask you why Nomadness is elitist!)
Evita: Nomadness isn’t elitist and I addressed this in the #NMDN chat about membership. People frequently misconstrue us having requirements as being elitist. Your job has requirements. I would think your friendships and relationships have to meet personal requirements of yours. Every social media platform you are on have requirements you have to abide by. Nomadness is no different. You have to have one 1 passport stamp to get in. That’s lightweight.
Evita: Last thoughts are just that we are excited and amped like all hell to get this year in gear. So many amazing things are happening and we look forward to going for it full throttle. We appreciate all the support from the inside and outside the group.
Bani: Word. I think it’ll be a truly incredible year for y’all, and thanks for making it all possible!