Marlie and Anthony Love started their YouTube channel and TikTok in the last couple of years. Traveling While Black In Seattle gives Black people thinking of moving to, or simply visiting the Pacific Northwest (PNW), an idea of places they should (and maybe shouldn’t) visit. They do reviews on restaurants, activities and attractions like museums and pop-ups.
The two use a rating system to measure the driving grade, level of fun and ‘comfortability for Black people’ at each place they visit. The overall score determines whether or not they recommend going. Of course, as the Love’s say, this is just their experience. They encourage Black people to go and check out places they visit with an open mind. The two took the time to talk with Travel Noire about their experiences in different places in the PNW and how The Green Book inspired the focus of their channel, Traveling While Black In Seattle.
TN: How did you two meet?
Anthony: It goes back. Like back, back. We’re from the St. Louis area, St. Charles County. There was this yearly picnic they had for all the Black folks in the St. Charles County area because it’s a predominantly white county. So, Black families would get together year after year. They’ve had it for maybe 40 years. This one particular year, Marley and I happened to cross paths. We started dating and, as it turned out, our families actually knew each other before we knew each other. We dated in high school and through college. Then, we got married and moved to Seattle. And here we are.
TN: So, how old were you when you met the first time?
Marlie: When we met, I was 16 and Ant was 17.
TN: I hear you two made the choice to move to Seattle during a vacation there. You were actually at the Space Needle when you decided. How did that conversation go?
Marlie: My job brought me up here for a conference in 2015. Anthony flew up with me and we thought it’d be fun because I’d have a few days off while there. We love this so much. We definitely wanted to get out of the Missouri area.
It was our last day here and we were like, ‘We LOVE This City so Much.’ We were just like yeah, we are definitely going to move here. We had always wanted to get out of the St. Louis area but we weren’t sure where. But, we were like yes, this is the city. So, we just started making a plan at that point. Four years later, we moved.
Anthony: And now, we are about four days away from our three years anniversary of moving to Seattle.
TN: What influence has the Green Book had on your travels?
Anthony: When we moved up here, after the first month or so, we had visitors coming from back home. So, all through the summer we were getting out and experiencing these touristy spots by showing them. When the winter and fall came and it was getting winter and dark, we were like how can we keep ourselves accountable to going out and seeing things around Seattle. We came up with the idea of doing a YouTube show. Then, the next question was what should we do a show about? We remembered the Green Book. We actually saw an original copy back at Marley’s grandmother’s house, years ago. She was telling us about it and how Black people used it.
We thought, why don’t we do something that is similar to that. We came to Seattle for Marley’s job and we didn’t know anything about Seattle, or the Pacific Northwest in general. So, what is a resource we can provide for other folks, more specifically Black folks, that are moving here? It’s the same question that the Green Book wanted to answer and the same concerns they wanted to alleviate that we still see and feel today. It gave us guidance and a kind of blueprint on what content to make that could be valuable.
Marlie: Even when we were thinking about making the show, I think we were taking a trip to BC, I remember googling, ‘Are there black people up there?’ We are googling this and there’s nothing out there to let us know. So, we can go somewhere and be completely uncomfortable, or weird. So, we were like let’s make this resource for other individuals?
Did you see the movie The Green Book?
Anthony: No. (Laughs.) We didn’t see it. We’ll probably watch it one day. I like authentic movies.
Marlie: (Laughs.) I watch a lot of TV shows.
TN: What is your advice for couples traveling to PNW?
Marlie: First, check out the show. Our show is to encourage people to check out different places in the PNW. Go and explore and experience the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.
Anthony: Our biggest recommendation is to come up here with an open mind and to try things you’ve never tried. Case in point, Marley and I never would be doing a YouTube channel or Tok-tok’s back in Missouri. Come up here with an open mind and be prepared for everything.
Where have you felt the most welcomed?
Marley: Seattle. Just in general. We haven’t been to Eastern Washington yet. Bainbridge Island, Woodley Island, even the suburbs like Bellevue. Pretty much the whole western side of Washington has been really welcoming.
Anthony: We are working on our 100th episode and in all of the episodes, we’ve really only had one bad experience. Everything else has been pretty good.
Where have you felt the least comfortable?
Marlie: Forks, Washington. We saw that people don’t need to go there for more than Twilight. Check out our episode, or just Google, Forks, Washington.
Anthony: There are recent instances of blatant racism towards Black people and other people of color.
Marlie: In Portland, we felt decently comfortable. We are just there for one day. We’ve gotten mixed reviews (of Portland.) So, we decided to go with an open mind, our experiences will be our experiences.
It was weird. It’s hard to explain. There wasn’t blatant racism.
Anthony: It is hard to put into words. I’ve heard people describe it as more of a passive/aggressive type of treatment. With the history of Oregon and the exclusionary law and how they had lash laws as recent as the 1920s and things of that nature. It didn’t surprise us that there was that type of feeling up there. It’s a state with such a recent history, that that type of behavior would go away. We (Black people) are excluded from traveling. We need to come out and represent.
Favorite Seattle Hotel for visitors?
The Hyatt Regency downtown. The staff is super nice and knowledgeable. They will give recommendations on things to do and you’re downtown but not too downtown.
Favorite Seattle area restaurants?
Marlie: Number one. Everyone will agree with this, Communion. They are Black owned. They won the best new restaurant in the country in 2021. They’re only open like once a month. Brunches on Sunday have no reservations. So you can walk in.
The Jerk Shop downtown. It is another Black owned restaurant. Caribbean food. So good!
Musang. Filipino/American fusion. It’s a house turned into a restaurant. A family type of experience.
Favorite activities in Seattle?
Anthony: Going to the beach, to the water. Trying to get Marley into hiking. Anything outdoors. Discovery Park is the place to go. Right there in Seattle. There will be an episode in about three weeks on Discovery Park, so stay tuned!
Spoiler alert! If you come in the summertime, you’re going to fall in love!
Marlie: Yes! That’s what happened to us.
TN: How did TikTok come into play for you two?
Marlie: TikTok came second. After the YouTube channel. We made a TikTok during the pandemic. I was mostly a browser. The more I was researching, I thought wow, we really have to get on TikTok. I posted one to introduce what we do. It got over 200,000 views. So, I thought oh wow, people want to see what we do. 47,000 followers.
Anthony: Our 100th episode will debut May 29. It will be a big one. We are planning to take ourselves international!
TN: Were people as friendly in Canada as Americans think they are?
Marlie: We believe people are nice in Canada. They were helpful and even helped us find some cool places to go while we were there. However, we only went to Vancouver Canada, so we aren’t sure if they are like that everywhere. We will also say that when we were in Ubers in Vancouver, people asked us if we were from Toronto, Canada.
TN: How do you think your channel will influence Black travel in the long run?
Anthony: We hope that our show encourages Black travel, especially to the Pacific Northwest. We want Black people to go and see the beauty of the world, and we ultimately hope we are a piece of that.
TN: How do you think your channel influences Black travelers today?
Marlie: We think our channel first, brings awareness to the fact that Black people feel uncomfortable in certain spaces. Second, we hope it brings people to experience things that they didn’t think they would do.