The book tour for “The Burden: African Americans and the Enduring Impact of Slavery” kicks off on February 1 at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. The event will feature a reading of excerpts from the book and a conversation between Rochelle and award-winning New York Times writer and MacArthur Genius Nikole Hannah-Jones and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. Tickets, which are $25 and include a copy of The Burden, are available here. Best-selling author Kareem Abdul-Jabbar calls The Burden “one of the most comprehensive, enlightening, and thought-provoking books I have ever read on African-American history. The insights into how slavery affects every aspect of America today from politics to economics to culture is powerfully presented by this remarkable essay collection.” Ibram X. Kendi, National Book Award-winning author of “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America” said: “As much as Americans want to deny it, slavery sits with us. It burdens us, as these essays brilliantly reveal. We need these striking essays to strike down our denial over the lingering effects of slavery.”
I decided five years ago that I had not seen enough of the world. So I set a goal: See 20 countries.
Now, I am seeing the world through the eyes of people like me in cities that once were just dots on a map: Dakar, Senegal; Migori, Kenya; Johannesburg, South Africa; Capetown, South Africa; Queenstown, New Zealand; Sydney, Australia. These visits came after fellowship trips to the beautiful cities of Buenos Aires, Istanbul, Amsterdam, London, Paris, Rome and Turin, Italy. And those visits came after long ago, initial, close-to-home trips to Toronto, Cancun, Acapulco, which all opened my eyes to the truth:
The world is so small.
I was amazed by how comfortable I was, how easily I traveled. I stood next to buildings I’d dreamed of seeing, such as the Sydney Opera House, thousands of miles from home. And it felt so right, exciting, but like I was supposed to be there.
So on I go to two new countries: Myanmar and Thailand, which a New York times In Transit piece just mentioned yesterday, a week after I planned my trip to Myanmar (formerly Burma) and Thailand. Psychic? Read about them here.
While business takes me there, pleasure will keep me going back. And as much as I love Thai food cooked in America, I cannot wait to see and taste its origins.
I also am continuing to see all of America. I have visited 33 states. I pin my travels on two large maps of the world and the U.S. I used to keep the global map in my office in the newsroom. My editor would occasionally come by and point to the wide swath of the U.S. that I have skipped: Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, the Dakotas. “You missed a spot,” he’d say. And we’d both laugh.
With only 17 states to go, I’ve decided that, occasionally, I will drive. I understand, for the first time, why the family trips were by car, past places on the way to places. I’m the kind of person who would take the detour to see the world’s largest ball of string.
The journeys mean so much now.
And when I return, I’ll plan my next trip to another state, one of the 17 that await my arrival. Excuse me if it’s Hawaii.