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This Black Girl Wanderer Lets Us In On Her Favorite Places In The World

"You should not cast an entire country and its people in a single light – there's always more to the story."

Black Girl Wanderer

Black Girl Wanderer is a series spotlighting the travels and explorations of black women journeying the world. Black women in all their magic and all their glory wander the earth, sprinkling the earth with their brown and their gold.

If you were to ask Cebi Baker what sparked her desire for travel, she'd say it's in her blood. The photographer/yoga enthusiast is the product of a multicultural family with roots in Mozambique, Swaziland, and South Africa. The benefit of being able to claim being raised by many places is that you are exposed to a variety of cultures the world has to offer. At a very young age, you're exposed to the fact that the world is much bigger than what you see. It was that taste that would act as the catalyst to her insatiable appetite for the diverse cultures and traditions the world had to offer.

As a student of the world, Cebi is a huge proponent of not judging a place by what you see but what you experience firsthand. As such, she believes every place has a story and complexities that go beyond the surface-level. "Being born and raised in Africa, I am only too aware of the negative stereotypes that foreigners learned to attach to our countries. You can't paint an entire continent with one brush, in fact you should not cast an entire country and its people in a single light – there's always more to the story."

In her search of unknown discoveries and creating new stories, Cebi has traveled to more than 15 countries and over 19 cities. Of the places she's been, she revealed her top destinations. Here's what she had to say.

Paris, France

Courtesy of Cebi Baker

August 2015

"I had always dreamed of visiting Paris to enjoy the cafes whilst people-watching, taking a romantic stroll by the river, strutting down the Champs-Elysees and visiting the museums – when I did finally visit, it lived up to all my expectations! Knowing that I had always dreamed of going to Paris, one day while we were visiting London, my husband booked us an early morning train ride from London to the 'City of Light'. It only took us two hours to reach Paris and I remember pinching myself as we stepped off the train and into the city of my dreams! It turned out to be as romantic and elegant as I had imagined.

"We spent the (rainy) morning people-watching at a cafe where I had a delicious French onion soup which I still think about today! Once the rain stopped, we walked around the city and soaked up the iconic scenery: we saw the Eiffel Tower, strolled past the river Seine and the Louvre – we didn't bother going into any of the attractions as we were only there for the day. Our day ended with a beautiful stroll down the Champs-Elysees and a golden sunset."

Pro Tip: "Take a good stroll and absorb the sights and sounds of the city. It's not always necessary to have an itinerary or list of attractions to tick off, especially if you're on limited time like I was. If you're curious and stay open to unplanned exploring I don't think you'll miss out on anything because you'll experience the city in a more organic way."

Courtesy of Cebi Baker

Lisbon, Portugal

Courtesy of Cebi Baker

September 2016

"I wasn't expecting much when I visited Lisbon in the summer of 2016, but boy did it amaze me! It was such a walkable city (something I truly enjoy) and full of charming history, cozy cafes and a vibrant art scene. Having grown up in Mozambique (a former Portuguese colony), I was also able to understand the language and I connected with the city on a deeper level.

"I fell in love with Lisbon on our first evening in the city when my husband and I trekked up a long, steep hill in one of the city's oldest neighborhoods. We were on our way to the Castelo de São Jorge, an ancient Moorish castle perched high above the city; and just as we reached it, the sun began to set and cast a magnificent pinky-orange glow over the city down below. All around us people were fixated on the glorious view and so we ended up staying until late evening where we enjoyed a musical performance and sipped a glass of wine. I love how people take sunsets seriously in Lisbon!"

Pro Tip: "Visit at least one Miradouro, a viewing platform located high above the city, at sunset. The views are spectacular and if you're lucky, there might be a wine stall nearby, so grab a glass and prepare to be enchanted. I would also recommend a day trip outside the city to the nearby towns of Sintra, home to the fairytale Pena Palace tucked away in the Sintra mountains, and Cascais, a seaside town perfect for a day of sunshine by the ocean."

Courtesy of Cebi Baker

Rome, Italy

Courtesy of Cebi Baker

August 2015

"There are few places with as commanding a history as Rome. Walking through this city and seeing ancient Roman architecture firsthand felt surreal– it's an experience that really makes your problems feel small because you realize that there were once other people, thousands of years before you, who lived and roamed the same streets.

"I talk a lot about walking in cities but there truly is no other experience like walking through the ancient streets of Rome. Every tiny cobbled street we turned into seemed to split into a dozen different alleyways – it was like stumbling through a beautiful maze of little pathways, all hiding their own secrets. We got lost a few times but I really didn't mind because each time we accidentally discovered something new and totally unexpected – a tiny pizzeria serving authentic Italian pizza and gelato, a back-lane lined with interesting art works, an empty courtyard with a little bench, perfect for a quick rest – there were pleasant surprises at every turn!"

Pro Tip: "Definitely wear comfortable footwear to properly enjoy this 'walking' city – there are little cobbled streets everywhere and you're bound to get lost at some point, but if you're in comfortable gear (e.g. some cute sneakers), you'll enjoy it! If you stumble on a little café or pizzeria, grab a gelato or refreshment and just chill – it's always good to take in the moment."

Courtesy of Cebi Baker

Cape Town

Courtesy of Cebi Baker

July 2017, December 2014 , June 2011

"Being South African, I may be a little biased in saying that Cape Town is right up there with some of the most beautiful cities in the world. I can only think of a handful of places which are nestled in between majestic mountains and the wide blue ocean. Add in its history, art and wine culture – you have a truly magical place!

"During a short visit [in July 2017], we stayed at a hotel located at the foothills of Table Mountain in the iconic (and colorful) neighborhood of Bo Kaap. While I lay asleep, I remember hearing a distant, chanting voice at the crack of dawn – it drifted with such a gentle melody that I listened to it, enchanted, through my sleep – I thought I was dreaming! It was only after I fully woke up that morning that I realized the magical singing had come from the neighborhood mosque (it was an early morning call to prayer). I'll never forget how beautifully that mysterious melody floated through the sleeping city. I was left feeling like I had experienced a hidden side to Bo Kaap, usually reserved for its residents."

Pro Tip: "If it's sunny, take the opportunity to go up Table Mountain. There are many walking tours of the city so definitely tag along to get a bit of history and a sense of the culture. I'd highly recommend visiting Bo Kaap for its charming colorful houses (and if you want to snap photos of someone or their house, it's always nice to ask for permission first). While you're here, try some authentic Cape Malay (a culture belonging to the original inhabitants of Bo Kaap) cuisine – if you're a meat-eater, try a dish called 'Bobotie' (baked minced lamb filled with fragrant spices, currants, and other delicious condiments).

"There are lots of other charming spots in this city so be sure to do some research and above anything else, treat this like any other big international city. Keep your wits about you and don't flash fancy cameras or gear unnecessarily. Strike up a conversation - we South Africans are generally a warm bunch and we love people to have a good time when they're visiting!"

For more of Cebi, follow her on Facebook.

Featured image via Cebi Baker

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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