“The Best Place To Be,” a new Travel Channel mini-series from Queen Latifah and Shakim Compere at Flavor Unit, is an invitation to discover the world through the eyes and access of Hollywood’s most adventurous.
Each of the four one-hour episodes of “The Best Place To Be” follow a noted personality as they share the best places to eat, drink, shop and sightsee at their favorite international destinations.
“This is a fun show that gives a true glimpse into how to really escape and explore,” says Shakim Compere of Flavor Unit. “Actors and performers are fortunate enough to travel around the globe for work and fun. But there’s always places that stay with them — these are the cities they keep going back to.”
The mini-series will premiere two episodes in April and two in May as follows:
“Rio, Fit for a Queen” – Premieres Sunday, April 2 at 5:00 p.m. ET/PT Queen Latifah and her friends explore Rio de Janeiro, taking mototaxis to the favelas, trying local dishes and dancing the samba. From footvolley on the beach to hunting for waterfalls in the rainforest, they discover why Rio is the best place to be.
“Anthony Anderson’s Barcelona” – Premieres Sunday, April 9 at 5:00 p.m. ET/PT Actor Anthony Anderson and his friend Jeff Sanchez head to Barcelona, Spain, where they catch a soccer game, check out architect Antoni Gaudi’s masterpiece, join a St. Jordi’s Day celebration and try Spain’s traditional dishes.
Earlier this year, home-rental site Airbnb came under heavy scrutiny after black users of the platform took to social media to describe the discrimination they faced. Most noted that after renters saw their photos, which were included in the booking request, they were denied accommodations. The hashtag #AirbnbWhileBlack popped up on Twitter and went viral. The company needed to do some serious soul-searching.
“Our mission is to allow people to belong anywhere … and that this issue, the issue of racial bias [or] discrimination on the platform, was a big problem and antithetical to our actual mission,” Christopher Lehane, head of global policy and public affairs for Airbnb, told The Root. “We needed to address this, but to be able to address it, we needed to understand it, consult with the experts [and] listen to people who’ve been on the front line for decades to help us … understand what the challenge was and then, from there, what we can do.”
That aha moment led the company to tap powerhouses such as formerU.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Holder, along with Laura W. Murphy—former director of the ACLU Legislative Office, who currently serves as a senior adviser to Airbnb—launched a review into the company’s practices with the intention of confronting and dealing with explicit and implicit discrimination and bias.
“What Airbnb made clear from the beginning is that they didn’t want to simply follow the law … but to do that which would exceed what was legally required,” Holder told The Root. “Change comes when you have tough, honest conversations, which I think Airbnb has done; when you have genuine self-reflection, which I think they have engaged in; and when you come up with proposals for bold action.”
Holder, along with civil rights attorney John Relman and Airbnb staffers, spoke with civil rights leaders for input and ideas about policy changes to address the problems and also to position the company to deal with any future grievances.
“The first time I spoke to the executives at Airbnb, there was a palpable demonstration to be willing to have these uncomfortable but absolutely necessary conversations about how these issues arose … and I thought they were interested in solving the problem and not just responding to public criticism,” Holder said.
On Thursday the company is releasing a report detailing its findings and how it plans to remedy the issues that the victims of discrimination have faced. In doing so, Airbnb acknowledges its own lack of workforce diversity, saying that it plans to create a “new comprehensive plan to recruit and retain a diverse workforce.” According to the report, some 9.64 percent of all its U.S.-based employees come from underrepresented communities. The company hopes to increase that number to 11 percent by the end of 2017.
Part of that plan includes implementing the “Diversity Rule,” which mandates that all vacant senior positions at the company include candidates from underrepresented backgrounds before any hiring is permitted to go forward.
Before the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964 — and decades before the Internet and smart phones existed — black travelers relied on the “Green Book” to find hotels, restaurants and other establishments willing to accept their business.
The travel guide was published between 1936 and 1966 to help black motorists avoid racial harassment, arrest and violence as they traveled through the U.S. during the Jim Crow era.
“Carry The Green Book with you. You may need it,” reads the cover of the 1949 edition, followed by a quote from Mark Twain: “Travel is fatal to prejudice.”
Victor Green, a U.S. Postal Service worker, started publishing the books from his New York City apartment after his wife decided they should scout all the black-friendly businesses on the way to visit her family in Virginia.
“The idea crystallized when, not only himself but several friends and acquaintances complained of the difficulties encountered; oftentimes painful embarrassments suffered which ruined a vacation or business trip,” wrote Novera C. Dashiell in the spring 1956 edition.
Green and other mail carriers shared their experiences in racially segregated America, and they helped black travelers avoid “sundown towns,” where they weren’t welcome after dark, and other racist areas or businesses.
“It’s not just which places are clean and which places serve good food — it’s places that you would be welcomed and you would be safe,” said Maira Liriano, associate chief librarian at the Schomburg Center.
The books were immediately popular, and they serve as a fascinating document of mid-century cultural history.
Longing for a long-distance getaway but don’t have a passport? No problem! We’ve found five faraway places overseas where, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, you won’t need to bring a passport.
The island of Puerto Rico (officially an unincorporated territory of the United States) has long been a favorite of travelers from the contiguous 48. Inexpensive airfare from Spirit, Southwest, and JetBlue makes Puerto Rico an economical option for East Coasters. And its Isla de Vieques, a TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice 2013 winner for best island in the Caribbean, offers visitors a bioluminescent bay to kayak and unspoiled beaches to explore. In a 2012 referendum on the territory’s political status, a record 61% of Puerto Rico’s voters were in favor of eventual statehood, so we may one day welcome the island as the 51st. Even so, right now, you can explore its wonders without a U.S. passport.
United States Virgin Islands
The U.S. Virgin Islands lie mere minutes away from Puerto Rico by plane. Made up of three main islands—St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John—plus a scattering of smaller isles, the U.S.V.I. see some 2.6 million visitors each year. In fact, tourism and rum (things we think go very well together) make up the majority of the islands’ economy. Each island has its own unique appeal. St. John, with its national parkland and legendary diving, will charm true escapists. St. Thomas is a shopper’s dream, with countless boutiques and jewelers, as well as two bustling cruise terminals. And Dutch-flavored and diverse St. Croix is a favorite of luxury-seeking honeymooners. Find accommodations of every stripe, from St. Thomas’ smart Ritz-Carlton to the luxe and immersive Caneel Bay resort on St. John.
Note: Travelers will need to have a passport to visit the neighboring British Virgin Islands.