A Seattle-based Black couple - inspired by the Green Book - have launched TikTok, Instagram and YouTube channels called “Traveling While Black” in Seattle. Now they’re rising influencers with the goal of making travel more comfortable for Black people and people of color.
“Hey what’s up, I’m Anthony and this is my wife Marlie” – that’s how Anthony and Marlie Love start every YouTube episode.
The couple are in their mid-30s, have been married nearly a decade and moved from Saint Louis to Seattle two years ago. As newcomers to the Pacific Northwest, they wanted to explore the area.
“But we were also a little nervous because we weren’t sure where we’d feel most comfortable,” Marlie said. “We were on a trip up to Vancouver, Canada and I was Googling like, ‘Black people Canada?’”
But they didn’t really get the search results they were looking for. So Marlie and Anthony decided to become that resource.
“We’ve had so many dm’s where people are like, this is what we needed,” Marlie said.
Their first-ever video was a trip to Bellwood Farms in Lynden.
“To go apple picking. Why?” Anthony said in the video. “Because you know how much Black people love to go apple picking,” he says, looking at Marlie with some side eye and a touch of sarcasm.
The comfort level rating for them got a four out of five.
“The service was really good. We were way out in the sticks, so that already can have a brother a bit on guard,” Anthony said in the video.
Now their content is starting to get attention. One of their TikTok videos has more than a million views.
“It’s insane,” Marlie said.
Now they’re expanding beyond the PNW to go national. Their most recent video – Episode 100 – reviewed a trip to Belize.
KIRO7′s Deedee Sun sat down with Marlie and Anthony to get the story behind this full-time production they tackle on top of their day jobs.
“We introduce ourselves as ‘lifelong black man and black woman,’” Anthony said. “We’re experts!” he said with a laugh.
Both say the Green Book was definitely an inspiration. It was a guide published for about 30 years from 1936 to 1966 that provided a rundown during Jim Crow of businesses across the country known to be safe for Black travelers.
“We first came across the green book at Marlie’s grandmother’s house years ago. And we had no idea up until then what it was about, so she kind of told us,” Anthony said.
One of their videos showed the actual copy of the Green Book owned by Marlie’s grandma. They learned more about the history at a traveling Smithsonian exhibit on the Green Book in Tacoma in April.
“I realized when I did travel with my grandparents,” Marlie said, “That because we didn’t know where we’d stop, we’d have to have all of our lunches packed up, we’d have to have pillows and blankets just in case we couldn’t stay somewhere,” she said.
It’s a concern that hasn’t really gone away.
“People like to think that stuff is way in the past,” Anthony said. “But Black people and probably minorities are definitely aware of that feeling and that uncomfortableness you get when you walk into a place and there’s not really people who look like you, and you just don’t really know what to expect,” he said.
They get real, but their videos bring a lot of laughs too. And the content isn’t just for Black people.
In each episode, Anthony and Marlie also review the drive to the destination as well as how fun a place is in general.
Their experiences have been overwhelmingly positive. But one uncomfortable experience for them was in Forks, Washington.
“This episode we have give comfortability for Black people a 1/5,” Marlie says in the video. “So what did that look like in our experience? Well , an unfriendly cold welcome. We knew it was cold for us because the two sets of white customers who came in after us during our visit were both greeted very differently,” she and Anthony said in the video.
“We had a whole bunch of comments of people saying yes this was our experience as well, so we weren’t imagining this,” Marlie said during the interview.
Their videos have gotten some pushback, mostly in the comment sections on social media.
“‘Why does it have to be traveling while Black?’ ‘You guys are race-baiting’, just really negative comments,” Marlie said. “Our main goal is not to find racism. We’re not looking for racist people. Our main goal is to encourage travel for Black individuals, for minorities, or just for people in general,” she said.
They say thankfully, most responses from viewers are positive and often full of gratitude.
“When we got up here and we saw the beauty of the mountain, water, all this cool stuff - the rain forest - we said everybody should come see this! So that’s a big part of our show. Enable travel. Black travel,” Anthony said.
Anthony and Marlie plan to expand Traveling While Black to review trips in Europe too, but say they will continue to be based right in Seattle.
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