If there's one thing I love to do when traveling anywhere, it's finding out about the black culture or communities of that region. Even in places where one might be apt to ask, "Are black people even living here?" I'm always curious to find out about the African diaspora and its history all over the world. And trust me, our footprint is everywhere---whether through ex-pats or our cultural and political influences. Since it's indeed Black History Month, here are a few must-see global destinations on my list to get beyond the usual museums and landmarks.
Italy: Rome and Tuscany
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Rome is a top-of-mind spot for travel to Italy considering it is indeed the capital, but let's veer off a bit from the usual gelato, pizza, and wine joints and get into a little history. Take a visit to the Arch of Septimius Severus, which was built in 203 A.D. in celebration of one of the emperor's triumphant battles. Septimus Severus was born in the Roman province of Africa and is described as a nomadic moor by several historians. Though his ethnicity in today's terms might be in question among some circles, it's still worth a trip (and a bit of research) while visiting the northwest end of the ancient Roman Square.
On another note, Rome is also the place where Berry Gordy, Billy Dee Williams, and Diana Ross filmed cult classic Mahogany. The theme song for the movie was a No. 1 hit in 1976, and was nominated for a "Best Song" Oscar that same year. Add a little glam to that suitcase and retrace some of the sites that Tracy, the lead character played by Ross, visited in that legendary photo shoot montage.
You can also take a trip to Tuscany, a hilltop city that includes Barga and the small village of Sommocolonia, where the legendary Buffalo Soldiers played a pivotal role in World War II. (See, Spike Lee's Miracle of St. Anna for a bit of dramatized back-story.) The town is full of beautiful cathedrals and restored castles, and local villages host antiques and food festivals.
Mexico: Veracruz and Mexico City
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Mexico has had its moments of issues with acknowledging citizens of African heritage as well as the African contribution to the country, but with a bit more understanding, more tourism support through travel, I think this can change. Veracruz, a port city has a large population of Afro-Mexicans, has a history impacted by Caribbean culture and foods brought by slaves from island nations. The first free slave community in the Americas was actually founded here and is called Yanga, named after Gasper Yanga who led the revolt for freedom. His statue stands in the city not far from Veracruz's other beautiful beaches, historic chapels, and San Juan de Ulúa, which was once a major fortress, prison and palace where slaves were traded.
Mexico City is where actress Lupita Nyong'o, a Mexican citizen of Kenyan heritage, was born. The Oscar-winning actress who won Best Supporting Actress for 12 Years A Slave (a film that made history as the first film directed by an African American to win Best Picture) spent time in a small Mexican town in her teens and told one publication she had to take a bus more than two hours away back to Mexico City just to find someone to braid her hair. In the city, you can visit the statue of Vicente Guerrero, the first (and only known or widely publicized) black president of Mexico, as well as enjoy their beach resorts (like the super-exclusive Nima Local House Hotel), Afro-Caribbean fusion restaurants, and street food spots in the Coyoacán or Michoacan markets.
Africa: Cairo and Ethiopia
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Everyone knows about Accra, Ghana, which hosts the return of thousands of African Americans to trace their roots, visit the slave castles, and be welcomed back to the native home of their ancestors. But there are other African locales that have a link to African-American history as well. Cairo, the capital of Egypt, has a metropolitan area that's the largest in Africa and was the place where Maya Angelou worked as an editor for the Arab Observer. While there, she counted as friends luminaries like David Du Bois (the stepson of W.E.B Du Bois), and she describes this experience in her book, The Heart of a Woman.
Also, many researchers and historians stand behind the premise that the ancient royalty of the country were indeed black, so when you're visiting the typical hot spots in Cairo like Tahrir Square and the massive Egyptian Museum, think on that. Stop by Khan El Khalili, a massive souk (or street market), for artisan goods, plan a luxe day trip through the desert, or drive just a couple hours away to enjoy nearby 5-star hotels like the Oberoi Sahl Hasheesh.
Ethiopia was once named the world's best destination for tourists---with its beautiful Simien Mountains National Park, majestic Blue Nile Falls, and widely visited Ethnological Museum within Emperor Haile Selassie's former palace---and it has a few historical ties to black Americans. Mignon Lorraine Inniss was a Caribbean-American scholar and educator who traveled with a delegation of African-Americans to the East African country to help with development efforts in the 1920s. She founded the first private co-ed boarding school there. Her husband, Arnold Josia Ford, who founded a black synagogue in Harlem, also helmed the development of a community of African Americans who left the U.S. and the racial discrimination of the time to settle on 100 acres of land gifted to them by Selassie. The historic Abyssinia Baptist Church in Harlem also has links to Ethiopia: The church was founded in conjunction with Ethiopian seaman in 1808.
More African Americans would travel to Ethiopia to relocate, and the emperor was a popular figure during the Harlem Renaissance. He had ties to key black American figures including Duke Ellington, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., and legendary pilots John Robinson, who served in the Imperial Ethiopian Airforce, and Hubert Julian.
A few more things to try on a trip here---to add to visits to the aforementioned tourist spots---is to stay at the luxury Kuriftu Resorts or enjoy a camel walk with a registered tour group.
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This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
There’s nothing quite as humbling as navigating adulthood with no instruction manual. Since the turn of the decade, it seems like everything in our society that could go wrong has, inevitably, gone wrong. From the global pandemic, our crippling student debt problem, the loneliness crisis, layoffs, global warming, recession, and not to mention figuring out what to eat for dinner every night. This constant state of uncertainty has many of us wondering, when are the grown-ups coming to fix all of this?
But the catch is, we are the new grown-ups.
As if it happened without our permission, we became the new adults. We are the members of society who are paying taxes, having children, getting married, and keeping our communities afloat, one iced latte at a time. Still, there’s something about doing all these grown-up duties that feel unnaturally grown-up. Enter the #teenagegirlinher20s.
If there’s one hashtag to give you the state of the next cohort of adults, it’s this one. Of the videos that have garnered over 3.9M views, you’ll find a collection of users who are overwhelmed by life’s pressing existential responsibilities, clung to nostalgia, and reminiscent of the days when their mom and dad took care of their insurance plans.
no like i cant explain to her why i had to buy multiple tank air dupes from aritzia #teenagegirlinher20s #fyp
The concept of being a 20-something or 30-something teenager is linked to the sentiment of not feeling “grown up enough” to do grown-up things while feeling underprepared and even nihilistic about whether that preparation even matters.
It’s our generation’s version of when we ask our grandmothers how old they are and they simply reply with, “I still feel 45,” all while being every bit of 76 years old. In this, we share a warped concept of time while clinging to a desire for infantilization.
Granted, the pandemic did a number on our concept of time. Many of us who started the pandemic in our early or mid-20s missed out on three fundamental years of socialization, career development, and personal milestones that traditionally help to mark our growth.
Our time to figure out and plan our next steps through fumbling yet active participation was put on pause indefinitely and then resumed provisionally. This in turn has left many of us hanging in the balance of uncertainty as we try to make sense of the disconnect between our minds and bodies in this missing gap of time.
Because we’re all still figuring out what the ramifications of being locked away and frozen in time by a global pandemic will have on us as a society, there really is no “right” way of making up for lost time. Feeling unprepared for any new chapter of life is a natural rite of passage, pandemic or not. However, it’s important to not stay stuck in the last age or period of life that made sense to us because self-growth is the truest evidence of personal progress.
So whether you’re leaning on your inner child, teenager, or 20-something for guidance as you fill the gap between your real age and pandemic age, know that it’s okay to grieve the person you thought you would be and the milestones you thought you’d hit before you ever knew what a pandemic was. If there’s anything that the pandemic taught us, it’s that we have the power to reimagine a better world and life for ourselves. And if we tap into our inner teenager as a compass, we can piece together our next chapter with a fresh outlook.
Sure, we’ve lost a couple of years, but there are still some really amazing ones ahead.
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