Kicy Motley is the founder of Movement: Black Youth Abroad. The 31-year old Brooklyn native launched the organization last October.
The program is more than just another travel opportunity for Black and brown teens. Students must complete a social justice oriented prep course before they travel. They are required to learn about the history, politics, and culture of the country, in an Afrocentric and decolonized way.
“My hope is that the kids that travel with us will take what they’ve learned from the program and apply it to their education, careers, and work in the community. Anti-blackness is global, so it’s important that when fighting racism at home we are looking at things from a comprehensive and systemic point of view. We’re developing a generation of leaders and activists with a global perspective,” Kicy tells Travel Noire.
“The United States has a legacy of restricting free movement of black people. Evidence of this is the literal moving of bodies during the slave trade, being bound to the plantation during slavery, the restrictions of Jim Crow, redlining neighborhoods, stop and frisk, and calling the police on black people for existing in public space,” she continues. “A black person to have a passport, and to move about the world freely, is truly one of the most radical and freeing things you can do.”
For Kicy, travel is about freedom, adventure, exploration, and learning. She hopes it will bring the same for the students who take part in her program. “I took my first trip abroad when I solo backpacked across Cuba as a freshman in college. That trip had an incredible impact on my life. I had been reading extensively about Cuba’s history and politics, so I was excited to experience the country firsthand. Despite all the studying I had done, there was nothing like actually being in the country and seeing for myself what it was like,” she says.
Movement: Black Youth Abroad works with youth between 16 and 23, as these are the formative years when teens and young adults are making serious life decisions. They’re deciding on college, majors, career paths, job offers. Participants will get to experience the excitement of being in a new place, with many leaving the country for the very first time. Students will head to Colombia this summer.