Each year after Christmas, Black households in the US scramble to find green, black, and red candlesticks, and that fancily named candelabra called by its Swahili name—kinara—to celebrate Kwanzaa.
Celebrating it at home when I was younger taught me about the ideals we could hold within the African diaspora to strengthen our solidarity. The idea that stuck out to me was the fourth principle of Kwanzaa: ujamaa, which means cooperative economics; a concept I put use daily.
During a travel experience I hosted last week in Salvador da Bahia, I ensured that nearly 75% of the stores, vendors, and service providers that my travelers engaged with, were Black-owned.
During their stay, my clients ate food cooked by Black hands in Black-owned restaurants, they bought clothes and souvenirs crafted by Black craftsmen in the image of Black people, they learned the oft-untold history of African heritage from the lips of Black people who have built careers by preserving this history and sharing it honestly, and they received guidance and blessings from Black spiritual leaders practicing a millennia old religion that venerates Black gods and Black ancestors.
The impact: dozens of Black Brazilians earned monetary value from this AfroBuenaventura trip.
This is especially significant when juxtaposed against the mirage of Brazilian racial democracy that in fact, systemically blocks Black people from accessing capital to start their own businesses, keeps them out of quality education, employment, and social services; and often denies them the right to life.
Each dollar we spent contributed to the livelihood of Black individuals and wealth creation for Black families. This, is the impact of tourism dollars—and it is at the foundation of every choice I make while curating stress-free itineraries for my clients.