Black & Abroad wants to send Black travellers ‘back to Africa’

Working with FCB/Six, the travel company looks to reframe a racist phrase into a positive one about visiting the continent.

Black&Abroad

“Go back to Africa” are words Black people try to avoid on the internet, but it can unfortunately be hard to do with the persistent presence of trolls and racists inserting themselves into their conversations and DMs.

But one U.S.-based travel company is giving new meaning to what is meant to be a derogatory and racialized expression by turning it into a campaign slogan championing the continent’s beauty and cultural diversity, with the help of Toronto agency FCB/Six.

The phrase “Go back to Africa” continues to be used more than 4,500 times per month online, often with racist intent, according to social listening platform NetBase. So Black & Abroad, a company focused on international experiences for black travellers, set out to “strip the perceived power away” from those who use the phrase in negative contexts in order to “debunk the age-old narrative that Africa is a desolate, disease-ridden wasteland undeserving of our time and travels,” according to company co-founder Eric Martin.

Working with FCB/Six, the organization turned hateful online posts into a positive message about tourism by redacting their context and placing the central message – a trip to Africa – against images illustrating the beauty and diversity of the continent’s 54 countries.

Paid posts on Twitter, YouTube and digital OOH play off the hashtag “#GoBackToAfrica” and throw to a campaign website, which features social images of African Americans travelling to each one of the countries. That part of the campaign, according to a press release, was designed to serve as a “counterpoint to the travel industry’s bias,” as stock image searches for “travel” turn up a disproportionate amount of images of Caucasian travellers.

Initiative worked on targeting African American audiences interested in travel, and the campaign is getting PR support from Glossy.

The website was developed using a quality controlled digital platform that locates and gains permission for images of Black people in Africa. The work of FCB/Six, the platform serves as a content marketing engine by capturing user-generated content from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and then using image recognition tech from Google Vision to filter by location, subject, quality and relevancy – giving it a broader application for the tourism industry.

Once curated, the images are pushed through to Black & Abroad’s social channels and website.