Voices of Empowerment: Navigating Black History Month and Beyond with Karl and Erry
February 4, 2024
Karl and Erry, a dynamic "Jamaitian" duo that has taken the scene by storm! These kindred spirits share a passion for life, gravitating towards elevated and curated experiences in lifestyle, fashion, authentic cuisine, and black queer inclusive travel. Their story is not just personal but a form of activism, as they use their platform to increase visibility for the black and queer Caribbean community. Through captivating narratives about their travels and love journeys, Karl and Erry strive to open hearts and minds. For Black History Month, Karl and Erry took the time to shed light on their impactful advocacy and vibrant experiences.
What does commemorating Black History Month mean to you?
K&E: BHM is a special time for us not only to remember but to celebrate black history and the continuous making of it! It means to search within, and as Queen B told us, “find our way back,” and learn about who we are. You need to know where you come from to know where you are going. BHM is about celebrating black excellence, beauty, and culture.
In your opinion, how has Black History Month evolved over the years, and what role does it play in fostering awareness and understanding of diverse experiences within the black diaspora?
K&E: We've come a long way. BHM continues to be increasingly and largely observed. Black history is American history, history that resonates globally, so as Whitney said, "We need a whole year!" And while, yes, we help to build a bridge and close the gap, even by commemorating BHM, it is on our allies to help carry out the work of truly fostering awareness and understanding of the black experience.
Could you share some personal experiences or cultural influences from your Jamaican background that you feel are essential to highlight during Black History Month?
Erry: Growing up in Jamaica, I learned the importance of valuing my history and where I come from. I also learned the importance of preserving and cultivating my culture from homemade remedies for healing, to music and nursery stories.
Karl: Also being a descendant of Haitian parents comes with an immense and untamable sense of pride. Not many can say that they come from the world’s first black-led republic. There is richness and power in our "Caribbean-ness", in our blackness. Answering this for you now, it dawned on me that it’s nice to be reminded of that occasionally when often it feels like the world wants to take that and everything great that you are away from you.
Your commitment to sharing your love stories and travel experiences is commendable. How do you believe your platform contributes to the visibility and representation of the black and queer Caribbean community, especially during this month of celebration?
K&E: The short answer is that what we do is a big "FU" to everyone who has a negative opinion about our life. Sharing our story and our experience is activism and choosing to live. No one’s going to give us a cookie for sharing our lives the way we do. While we have the privilege to be able to do so, we only hope that it inspires others to live their truth, especially our brothers and sisters back home. It is much more empowering to stand up for something and what you believe rather than for anything or nothing at all.
As advocates for black queer inclusive travel experience, how do you connect these elements to the broader narrative of black history, and what message do you hope to convey through your content during Black History Month?
K&E: The message we hope it all conveys during BHM and always is that you matter. Existing is all we’re trying to do. We do that on or off social media, in Jamaica or Haiti or the US, at work and school, and at our apartment complex, during BHM and throughout the year. 365 days a year, we take up space as a reminder to everyone in the room that we exist and we have a right to enjoy this life and make of it what we want, with whomever we want.
How do you believe Black History Month serves as a platform to spotlight and celebrate the often-overlooked work and contributions of Black LGBTQ+ individuals, which have historically been forgotten and erased from mainstream historical narratives?
K&E: That’s a good question! It’s interesting to think about those we celebrate during black history month while also thinking about the erasure of those who play a role in it, specifically black and queer hidden figures. Not just Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Toussaint Louverture, or Marcus Garvey. Over the years, black history has become more personal and meaningful for us. We know that this time is also an opportunity to highlight the contributions of "Queeribbeans" such as Charlot Jeudy, a leader and activist of the LGBTQ+ organization who fought greatly for LGBTQ+ rights in Haiti. There are far too many silenced, and far too untold stories that fuel our fire and mission to demystify black gay living, change minds, and open hearts.
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