Tourism Geographies Special Issue “Unpacking Black Tourism” 


Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced. - James Baldwin


May 25th, 2021 will mark one year since the brutal killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police that sparked international outrage and protest against systemic racism around the globe. Though a significant recent marker in history, Black/African-American people have been afflicted by racism, segregation and discrimination for centuries (Foster, 1999; Delgado & Stefancic, 2017). While scholars have addressed a range of institutions and practices that perpetuate racial discrimination, the tourism industry is an often-overlooked site of marginalization and inequality (Chio et. al., 2020). Travel promotion is often implicated in rather than separate from wider patterns of exclusion and discrimination. Indeed, this observation reminds us that mobility is a civil right and the right to travel is “fundamentally intertwined with the construction of racial identities” (Hague 2010, 331; see also Alderman, 2018; Dillette & Benjamin, 2021). 


With this global uprising and newfound spotlight on the injustices faced by Black lives – tourism scholars, educators, and practitioners must consider some important questions about racial equity: How has tourism played a role in supporting or in not supporting the social movement towards racial equity? How has the industry responded or not to this global push for racial equity and justice? In what concrete ways can tourism scholarship affirm the value of Black lives, rights, and identities?  While a review of tourism scholarship reveals early signs of some scholars and industry initiatives taking on these key questions (Alderman, 2018; Alderman, Williams & Bottone, 2019; Black Travel Alliance, 2020; Dillette & Benjamin, 2021; Lewis, 2020; Robinson et. al., 2020) there remains much more work to be done in addressing the national and global reckonings around issues of racialized violence and inequity. Although discussions of race and social justice amongst tourism scholars are growing, in the academic realm, there have been a limited number of scholars currently dedicated to this work (Alderman 2013, Benjamin, Kline, Alderman & Hoggard, 2016, Lee & Scott, 2017, Philipp 1994, Dillette, Benjamin & Carpenter 2018, Holland, 2002, Alderman, Williams & Bottone, 2019, Carter 2008, Duffy, Pinckney, Benjamin, Mowatt, 2019). This call for papers is a call for tourism scholars to do better in acknowledging the invisibility of race within historical and contemporary tourism geographies. More accountability in tourism academia and more education in the tourism industry is needed (Black Travel Alliance, 2020; Carey & Arikoglu, 2020; Leisure Studies Association, 2020, Meeting Professionals International, 2020).  This guest-edited special issue, “Unpacking Black Tourism,” seeks to create intellectual space and fill important voids in the study of racism, tourism, and Black life. It proceeds with the belief that no matter our epistemological background, tourism scholars can and should unite around identifying, studying and challenging patterns of racial inequality across tourism spheres.  


We are approaching the ten-year anniversary of Tourism Geographies special issue on African-Americans in Tourism, an important but nonetheless partial step towards addressing racial equity and amplifying the traditionally underrepresented experiences of African-Americans in tourism.  How has the Black tourism landscape changed or remained the same, and what other tensions, movements, and geographies related to race and tourism deserve attention – both within and outside the USA? What critical theoretical, methodological, and planning approaches should be deployed in approaching systemic racism in tourism, its effect on communities of color, and their efforts to move through, belong, and claim a place in that industry? This special issue seeks to critically unpack issues steeped in the tenets of systemic racism and center the study of Black travel experiences within tourism studies.  Systemic racism is grounded in the premise that racism is pervasive and permanent and is embedded in the foundations of systems and society (Delgado and Stefancic 2017). It leans on a system of hierarchy that privileges one race above another, namely the White race (Singh, 2019). Systemic racism emerges when that hierarchy and the resultant privileges become ingrained into the systems that govern daily life - from housing policies to police profiling to wealth building to marketing and representation across a multitude of environments. 


Led by special issue editors from Tourism RESET – a multi-disciplinary initiative dedicated to issues around race, ethnicity and social equity in tourism (Tourism RESET, 2021), this special issue will serve as a space for open, honest and difficult dialogue about Black travel and tourism amongst the tourism research community.  The proposed special issue will address questions such as: In what ways has systemic racism and oppression influenced tourism knowledge and education?   How can brave spaces, which strive to cultivate a “productive dialogue where participants are encouraged to speak honestly and critically from their own experience toward the end of mutual learning and liberation” (Mejía, 2019) be used to support this type of dialogue and scholarship?  In what ways can dismantling White supremacy, colonialism, and systemic racism and inequality in our academy, industry, and discipline contribute toward an equitable touristic landscape? What role must collaboration and allyship between tourism scholarship and Black communities play in any of these critical interventions? This special issue will serve as a space to amplify the counter-narrative stories of Black travel and tourism by calling out the ways in which systemic racism has played a role forming the inequities in tourism, offering solutions for a more equitable path forward. 


Paper submissions may cover a broad range of themes demonstrated through theoretical work, empirical research, as well as case studies and comparative perspectives. We seek an international collection of scholars and researchers for a global examination of this topic and encourage creative and critical research designs and methodologies. Appropriate topics for this special issue include, but are not limited to the following:


  • The role of tourism businesses in response to racial unrest 

  • The embodied experiences of Black oppression and tourism

  • Popular culture representation of Black tourism (e.g. film and media) 

  • The role of intersectionality within Black tourism

  • Festivals/events around Black tourism 

  • Systemic racism against Black lives in tourism 

  • Anti-Blackness marketing or public relation campaigns/strategies in tourism 

  • Black adventure/outdoor leisure - fighting against racial stereotypes 

  • Driving while Black - historical and current events of traveling as a Black person for leisure 

  • Black traveler experiences 

  • Black tourism employee experiences in terms of oppression, anti-Blackness, or discrimination from either managers, collegues, or customers 

  • Critical theories (for instance critical race theory) to address issues around systematic racism in tourism 

  • Methodology focusing on social justice and equity 

  • Discussions of systemic racism and tourism in the classroom 


Key Dates and Submission Information


Please send proposed paper title, name of author/s and an abstract (to include references) of no more than 500 words to the Guest editors, Dr. Alana Dillette (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), Dr. Stefanie Benjamin (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) and Dr. Derek Alderman (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)  by 25 May 2021. 




25 May 2021 – Expression of interest - submission of Abstracts 

25 June 2021 – Answer about status of work

31 January 2022 – Submission of full papers by authors


Please note - papers will be made available online as they are accepted, which may be before the final publication of the Special Issue. 



When preparing your papers, please be sure to follow the guidelines in the Notes for Authors available from Tourism Geographies.