On She Goes

What Amanda Seales’s Tweets Reveals About Passport Privilege

Just because someone isn’t “well-traveled” doesn’t make them a lesser person.

Jagger Blaec
Jagger Blaec
October 11, 2017
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Amanda Seales is typically a “woke bae.” Best known for shutting down racist fuckshit, like that time Cailtyn Jenner tried it with her. Or tweeting hot social justice fire from her popular Twitter account. However, she hit a speed bump this week with a series of tweets speculating about why some people may not be getting out there and traveling, and it was about more than lacking a passport. The tweets flopped, revealing a bougie mentality that plagues some Black folks.

Seales fixed her fingers to begin her tweetstorm around the idea of “If you’re buying Jordans and Nike Suits but . . . ” For example, “If you’re buying Jordans and Nike Suits but you’re sleeping on an air mattress, YOU’RE LOSING.” She followed up that tweet by also saying, “If you’re buying Jordans and Nike Suits but you don’t have a PASSPORT, YOU’RE LOSING.” There are a lot of things wrong with this thought process, and it really struck a chord with her followers. For starters, the notion of categorizing an individual’s social status or economic situation in terms of either winning or losing is problematic. It follows a “bootstrap” ideology that suggests that all people are born with equal opportunity, which disregards the reality of generational poverty and historical lack of access that may impact whether or not the individuals Seales’s comments targeted can even fairly compete in her imaginary contest. The cost of Jordans may be more than a passport, but if she’s talking about the world of traveling abroad, that doesn’t include airfare, accommodations, transportation, food, and more that are required. This also doesn’t factor in the amount of time off work or whether someone even has paid vacation time that the working poor would require in order to access vacations like this.

Seales isn’t the only bougie Black traveler out there. Many have noticed this as a symptom of a much larger issue when it comes to the travel movement, especially the Black travel movement. Statements like Seales’s are more harmful than helpful and do nothing to uplift any sector of our community, because international travel may not always be accessible to everyone for a variety of reasons—and buying Jordans isn’t really one of them. It’s super disappointing to see someone so visible shaming people who may want to treat themselves to a pair of shoes while working what may be a low-wage job.

International travel may not always be accessible to everyone for a variety of reasons—and buying Jordans isn’t really one of them.

Travel is a privilege, even though Seales claimed that her comments weren’t classist and that this was her way to normalize travel, saying, “Seeing new places is key 2 growth. It shld NOT be reserved 4 the wealthy.” On the other hand, Seales suggested her words were taken out of context. She may have been inferring that those who may be at a level to afford travel are simply squandering their extra cash on frivolous things, like high-end items, in the name of stuntin’ on their peers. But we may never know since Seales soon became uninterested in furthering the discourse and ended the tweetstorm by disengaging.

“Now, since y’all wanna say I’m boughie, lemme head to this Eiffel Tower for dinner. Again my overall point was that folks b flossin bullshit but ignoring real shit and there are no wins in that game.”

I get it, but the comments are still shitty. “EVERYBODY needs to travel,” she tweeted. “Some may not be able to, but if they CAN, they SHOULD. Period.” I think it would have been more useful to offer resources and suggestions to those who may have an interest in travel but believe they don’t have the means. By essentially comparing someone’s capability to buy Js to being able to have lunch at the Eiffel Tower is flawed. This thinking ignores that even exploring a local city counts as “travel.” Being outside of your comfort zone can be an adventure in itself. Hopefully Seales’s comments didn’t leave anyone discouraged from thinking about what it means to be “well-traveled” and how that doesn’t make you a lesser person.