I recently traveled for the first time since COVID-19 shut down the world. It was an interesting time to travel as I believe my observations and sensitivities have changed during the year 2020. With the tumult of the pandemic and social justice issues at the forefront of our national consciousness, my recognition of inequitable treatment, large and small, has been heightened. In other words, I notice things.
I traveled to Hawaii for some business meetings in June. I stayed at a beautiful resort known for its impeccable attention to guests’ needs and comfort. Several business companions were women of color. While spending our free time at the pool or in the beautiful waters of Maui, we had some casual conversations about the impact of the sun, sand, salt water and chlorine on our skin and hair. I was surprised to learn that for my friends with natural hair, the hotel had no complimentary products for the specific needs of persons of color. Also, the gift shops and on-site salon likewise failed to stock these necessaries. While some might consider this a small, inconsequential thing, the Hawaiian experience was not unique. Instead, my friends of color experience this inequity every time they travel.