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Here’s Why Barbados Should Be Your Next Girls Trip

Travel

I'm an island girl at heart.


I was born, raised, and still live in the beautiful islands of The Bahamas so I know for a fact that when I see bridal parties, girl squads, and women in general living their best lives on an island getaway and hashtagging their pics with #travelgoals, they're telling no lies!

I was invited on an all-girls trip to Barbados last year and I was super excited to soak in the sun on an island I'd never visited before! As a travel writer, this trip proved to be like none I'd ever experienced.

The trip was the brainchild of Black Girls Travel Too (BGTT) owner Danny Rivers-Mitchell whose company encourages, promotes, and supports Black women traveling the world and occupying spaces "they" say we can't or shouldn't be in. For the first time ever, 10 influential Black queens descended on an island at once to soak up some sun and prove that we too have an audience, reach and influence. In fact, when combined our followers total more than one million!

The ladies & Writer Ianthia Smith showing the impact of their reachPhoto by Will Edmond

How's that for influence?

After an early morning meet up in the JFK Airport in New York, friendships, bonds, and connections were immediately formed, and as we boarded our five-hour flight to paradise, it was crystal clear that this would be a girls trip I wouldn't soon forget.

Like most island destinations, the minute you hop off the plane, you're immediately hugged by sweet island breezes and intoxicated by the salt left lingering the air by the ocean's waves. Barbados is no different. It didn't help that we were in Rihanna's home country either, so our inner "bad gals" were all activated as we brought the bikinis, the melanin, and the sass!

Check out these 5 times me and my newest gal pals got our entire lives in Barbados!

Private Cooking Class on the Beach 

Writer Ianthia Smith cooking with Barbados celeb chef Craig Greenidge

Photo by Will Edmond

Our first day out, we headed to the beach for a cooking demo with one of Barbados' celebrity chefs, Craig Greenidge. The entire atmosphere at Pirate's Cove was so tranquil and serene. Hammocks swayed in the midday sun as tropical drinks and cups of rum punch flowed endlessly. The sea glistened as the powder white sand seemingly evaporated between my toes. We were like little kids on the beach; dipping our toes in the water, running amuck and trying hard to pay attention to the chef as he walked us through cooking our meal of cassava chips, fish cakes, and curry chicken salad.

We helped to whip up a traditional Bajan meal and washed it back with more rum punch, of course. The food was delicious, but the relaxing mood and quiet of the beach satisfied our appetites more. We walked along the sandy shoreline for what seemed like hours, bonding, connecting, and capturing fire images of each other.

The results of the girls' private cooking lesson on the beach

Photo c/o Ianthia Smith

Nikki Beach was LIT! 

Writer Ianthia Smith keeping things mellow in yellow on Nikki Beach

Photo by Will Edmond

No girls trip to Barbados is complete without a visit to Nikki Beach. I was not ready for the insane amount of fun and frolic that was awaiting my arrival at this posh, luxurious destination. The minute we arrived, it was clear that Nikki Beach was made with a queen in mind. Day beds and lounges stretched the length of the pool on one side, while the beach gave endless views on the other. Our section was ready and waiting for us when we arrived and we quickly traded whatever we were wearing for bikinis and one pieces. The vibe at Nikki Beach was lit for the entire time we were there. Freshly made mojitos were delivered to us with all the pomp and pageantry we deserved; our delicious spread was served on the cutest little boat complete with sparklers, music and...abs!

The beautiful ladies & Writer Ianthia Smith stylin' and profilin'

Photo by Will Edmond

A Catamaran Cruise for the Queens

The ladies enjoying sunbathing on their luxurious cruise

Photo by Will Edmond

We left land for a bit to head out on the water for a day of sailing and sun bathing...and scoping out Rihanna's mansion! On the high seas, we coined the phrase, "Riri, are you home?!" because we annoyingly shouted it for 20 minutes straight, hoping our favorite bad gal would hear us, and possibly come out on the balcony. We had a successful day of doing absolutely nothing as we lathered our melanin in the warm Bajan sun. Our catamaran cruise took us on a magical tour of the island, passing by mansions and five-star developments on the way. At one point, we stopped to snorkel and swim with the turtles and hop on jet skis, where some of us were far more adventurous than others. It was one of the most relaxing parts of the trip and...Rihanna never came outside lol.

Visiting Rihanna’s Childhood Home 

Writer Ianthia Smith posted up on Rihanna Drive

Photo c/o Ianthia Smith

So, this time we got a little closer to Rihanna, but she still wasn't home! Either way, we got our entire lives visiting the home she grew up in. The tiny, but colorful house sits on a quaint corner named Rihanna Drive, in honor of our girl! There's this huge plaque sitting at the corner of the entrance, paying homage to the music and beauty mogul. A tiny red and white bar also welcomes you in. This building is definitely everything Rihanna, with paintings splashed on the ground featuring some of her song titles. We spent so much time at Riri's homestead taking a million photos on her front porch and chatting it up with the neighbors and Ms. Marj, the cutest little old lady who claims to be Rihanna's godmother. Here is where we got to see just how much the people of Barbados love and cherish Rihanna, just like we do!

The Safari Ride with Breathtaking Views 

Writer Ianthia Smith looking out into the beauty of the ocean

Photo c/o Ianthia Smith

On our last full day on the island, we hopped on two separate trucks for a Bajan safari ride at dusk. We got a late start and raced to beat the setting sun. But before the light escaped us, we were able to take in some of the most enchanting views of Barbados. We trucked through these close knit communities passing by mountains, beaches, and the most beautiful smiles, and warmest waves on the way. I had no clue Barbados had as many breathtaking views as it does. Bathsheba, to me, though, was the most beautiful. With large boulders sitting far out in the middle of the ocean and some casually resting on the roadside, the views here were dramatic, but so calming. On the way back, our tour guide Glein let us connect to his Bluetooth for an hour-long Rihanna jam out session. We sang our lungs out to so many of her songs as the winds flung our hair to the skies and the nighttime cool kissed us goodbye...until next time.

This was my first trip to another Caribbean country and I can admit that I've certainly been missing out. But being in Barbados, I enjoyed this strange familiarity and quickly remembered that even if you take the girl off the island and put her on another one, she'll always be at home.

It's all about peace and love on this gorgeous Barbados adventure

Photo by Will Edmond

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Featured image by Will Edmond. Originally published January 15, 2019.

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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