As summer comes to an end, we’ll soon be swapping our beach getaways and sunny vacations for hot chocolate and warm blankets. Lucky for us we interviewed Nate Fluellen, a professional traveler, podcaster and television host of The Africa Channel’s new show, “Escape with Nate: In Search of Black Utopia”, to get one last summer fix.
In his new show “Escape With Nate: In Search of Black Utopia”, Nate Fluellen will meet with the top Black travel celebrities and influencers to discuss how traveling the world closes the gap for people of color who want to explore on their own. Multiple guests, including digital creator Rondell Holder and journalist Oneika Raymond, will join Nate in discussing not only their personal travels but how their travels have reconnected them to their roots, as well as expanded their global perspectives on race, community, and breaking the stereotypes of Black travel.
Marissa Zeno: So, where does your passion for travelling come from?
Nate Fuellen: “My passion comes from changing the narrative of how Black men are viewed and creating another positive image for Black youth to aspire to. I never get tired of traveling…representation is important. When I enter these countries where they’ve never met a Black person, they only see us through screens or music or stereotypes then it’s like ‘oh I met a Black American’ and they are able to connect and create the relationships. The more we know the smaller the world is.”
MZ: What, if anything, have you learned while working in this industry especially with your show and podcast?
NF: “Well from traveling what I’ve learned is that people wake up with love. Everybody wants to be able to take care of their family…with all cultures however it’s executed that’s the intention of most humans. I’ve learned so many things but the one thing that I’ll always share is to keep traveling. Keep seeing the world and keep exploring because God put us on this Earth and man created countries, states, provinces, cities, all these restrictions. As a human, God put me on Earth so it’s my right to go explore Earth while I have time while I’m living. I’m gonna go anywhere on God’s green Earth that I desire to have my feet go.”
MZ: Do you think that there are any myths or common fears about traveling alone and do you have any advice? Can you dispel those myths for people who may want to travel alone?
NF: “Well, from my experience, I’m from the Southside of Chicago and so that’s prepared me to go anywhere on Earth. There’s the stigma that the outside world has this stereotype that there’s a greater threat that’s bigger than what we experience in America, because we’ve normalized the stressful environment that we do live in. Through news and other outlets people feel that the outside world is scarier but in my experience it’s not. I always try to encourage people to travel and let them know that if you’re from any major city, which most Black people are, you’re more than equipped to be able to make it anywhere in the world as a tourist.
MZ: You’re also starting your own tours! What can someone expect when booking an “Escape with Nate Tour”?
NF: We’re launching these surf retreats where it’s gonna be these luxury accommodations but then you have access to the beach when you learn how to surf and get in the waves and beach yoga. They are like surf and wellness retreats and they’ll be small groups (20 people or less) so everybody gets the attention with the surf lessons and in these small groups so you can connect with people. Costa Rica will be one of the first destinations we’ll do the surf and wellness retreats.
MZ: Can you tell us more about being a Black surfer and “It’s a Great Day in the Stoke”?
NF: Yes! Being a Black surfer is therapy! I love to be in the water, just paddling out and sitting there. It’s the freedom of being in the ocean, surfing, it’s like a disconnect. It’s just liberating, it’s great for physical fitness and peace of mind. When I was a kid, I saw surfing and I didn’t see anyone who looked like me so I never asked my mother to put me in a surf camp, so my surf dream was deferred because it wasn’t’ until I became an adult that I took the initiative to go start surfing. “A Great Day in the Stoke” what I’m excited about is we can put this image of 500 Black surfers on the beach so the little kids who want to surf can have the images and see Black surfers as something to aspire to because representation matters, and now with the Black surf movement with the younger generation we have all these groups and organizations like “Color the Water” that are popping up. It’s an exciting time to be a Black surfer because the chocolate tide is rising!”
MZ: That’s so great for younger generations who want to get into it, and now see that they can! So now, you talk about it on your show, so what does a Black Utopia look like to you?
NF: “You put me on the spot with my own question! I would say, I’ve experienced it in Rio. I see people that look like my cousins. A Black utopia for me is a beach front paradise, no crime, just beautiful Black people in shape, eating good food, just these little microcosms of what I’ve experienced in life on a daily. I will say the closest thing that I’ve had was going to Tennessee State University (shout out to the HBCUs!), and I was around all these beautiful Black people with different age groups, aspirations, socio-economic levels, just the whole spectrum and that was the first time I saw that statement that we’re not all monolithic and we came here for the same passion but we all have different interest. That would be a utopia where you can start at one destination with a group of amazing Black people and then you can have this community that you can grow and support each other for years.
MZ: Lastly, what inspired you to create your swimwear line “Kavata Swimwear”?
NF: “One of my friends, a business partner, he saw that I was picking up a lot of interest in surfing, he and his girlfriend have a swimwear store in Antigua and it was like ‘Oh that makes sense… that’s great!’ and I decided to name it after my sister, Laini Kavata Fluellen (who passed away in 2019 due to Triple Negative Breast Cancer). I decided, just to have impact, is that 10% of each sale is donated to Laini Fluellen Charities, so I want to be able to use the swimwear line and my platform to bring awareness to TNBC and to allow her legacy to live on and do my part in contributing to help save Black and Hispanic women’s lives in helping raise funds and awareness for TNBC.
We’re so thankful to be having these inspiring and enlightening conversations about what it’s like to be a Black traveler and all the adventures waiting outside of our own little bubbles. We hope that this interview has given someone the travel bug and they are out booking passports right now. Tune in to “Escape With Nate: In Search of Black Utopia” on The Africa Channel and streaming on Demand Africa! We can’t wait to see all to come from our guest Nate Fluellen and be sure to be on the look out for more here.
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