The Blackest Questions

Experiences, Advice and Photography with Expert World Traveler Jessica Nabongo

Episode 10

The first Black woman to visit every country on the planet shares her stories. World Traveler Jessica Nabongo joins Dr. Chrisitina Greer to dish on her favorite places, share travel advice and test her geography knowledge.



Panama Jackson [00:00:00] You are now listening to theGrio’s Black Podcast Network, Black Culture Amplified.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:00:06] Hi, and welcome to the Blackest Questions. I’m your host, Doctor Christina Greer, politics editor for theGrio and associate professor of political science at Fordham University. In this podcast, we asked our guests five of the Blackest questions so we can learn a little bit more about them and have some fun while we’re doing it. We’re also going to learn a lot about Black history, past and present. So here’s the way this works. We have five rounds of questions about us Black history, the whole diaspora, current events, everything with each round. The questions we get a little bit tougher and the guest has 15 seconds to get it right. If they answer the question correctly, they will receive one symbolic Black fest and hear this. If they get it wrong, they’ll hear this, but we’ll still love them anyway. After the five questions, there’ll be a Blackest bonus round at the end just for fun. Our guest for this episode is Jessica Nabongo. Jessica is a global citizen who is a master storyteller, travel expert and sought after brand ambassador, who is the first Black woman to have traveled to every country in the world, named one of the 50 most notable people in Travel by travel by leisure, Jessica uses her platform to educate and inspire others to experience the world around them and build a global community with an emphasis on bringing untold stories to the world, whether in books, interviews or social media. Her new book, The Catch Me If You Can One Woman’s Journey to Every Country in the World, is just published by National Geographic and was an instant bestseller. Jessica, thank you so much for joining the Blackest Questions.

Jessica Nabongo [00:01:36] Thank you for having me. I’m excited.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:01:38] Listen, when I told my mother that we were talking today, she’s like, Oh, I saw her special. I just love her. So I’m letting you know that as you know, theGrio listeners will fall in love with you. And I’m so excited to play with you today. I need to let you know that Gloria Greer is your number one fan.

Jessica Nabongo [00:01:58] Hi Gloria!

Dr. Christina Greer [00:01:59] So my mom is super excited. So you’re a first generation American, born and raised in the D in Detroit by Ugandan parents. And we were talking a little bit earlier, you know, I love Uganda, a special place in my heart for Uganda. But you went to St John’s in New York where you earned a degree in English literature after completing a graduate degree at LSC, the London School of Economics. And so tell us a little bit more about how this degree in literature translated to this global travel spirit that you have.

Jessica Nabongo [00:02:30] Oh, that’s so funny. I think it’s completely unrelated. Honestly, I wanted to go to F-I-T, but my mother was like, fashion is a hobby, so but I was like, well, whatever, I’m going to New York and that I’m going to study English lit. You know, I’m someone who grew up in a home full of books. I’ve been writing poems and stories and essays since I was like four. So that’s how I ended up majoring in English literature when they wouldn’t let me major in fashion so, yeah.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:03:03] Okay. So on another, another time, you’re going to have to come back and read us some of your poetry and literature from I want to hear like first grade Jessica reading me her poems now.

Jessica Nabongo [00:03:14] That’s so funny.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:03:15] We I would love that you know as an educator.

Jessica Nabongo [00:03:18] That I’m going to dig it out actually because I’m going home on Thursday and I’m like, Let me actually dig through the crates.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:03:24] I would love that, you know, because I’m sure we would see the evolution of your sort of adventurous spirit and sort of how even in Detroit you have this kind of global, international way of looking at the world probably as like a little itty bitty, you know?

Jessica Nabongo [00:03:39] Oh, for sure. I mean, I’ve been traveling internationally since I was four. My parents love to travel, so it was important for them every summer to go on vacation somewhere, whether it was domestic or international. So by the time I graduated from high school, I had been to like eight countries, I think in like one territory. And beyond that, like metro Detroit is really diverse and growing up, like when you’re the child of immigrants, most of your parents friends are also immigrants. So like I grew up, like my godmother is Filipina, you know my dad’s best friend is Indian. And, you know, there was a lot of Kenya and Congolese. And so I grew up in quite the global community in Detroit.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:04:23] Absolutely. I mean, I wrote this book called Black Ethnics, where we talk about of these social networks and, you know, the ways in which sort of Black people from all over can find one another, you know, in these in pressure points of commonality. Now, when you travel, did you take a particular book or is it just, you know, like what is what is something that you always have with you that either reminds you a little bit of Detroit or home or is it each time is a brand new experience? And there’s not like one book of poems or one novel that you always take with you.

Jessica Nabongo [00:04:56] Oh, I would say every time is something new. The things that are like always with me are compressing socks and noise canceling headphones and a rosary that my mother gave me. And then I have this little charm from when I lived in Japan. So I lived in Japan for a year and when I left they gave me so many gifts between the students and the staff. They gave me so many gifts. And there was this little travel like good luck charm that they gave me. And I’ve been traveling with that since 2009.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:05:27] Oh, wow. Well, clearly it works because you’ve been to every first Black woman to be and I travel a lot internationally covered. That’s been one of the sort of, you know, really downsides for me in COVID is just it feels like it’s tethered me to the United States. And, you know, for me, even though I’m an American politics professor, I got to leave this country to understand this country. I have to leave this country to love this country just like Mark Twain, you know. And so to be moored for a few years was really difficult for me. And now I’m like, well, before monkeypox comes, I got to go, so it’s like passport let’s get cracking.

Jessica Nabongo [00:06:05] Oh, yeah, I know. I hear that. I found ways I spent a lot of time doing domestic travel in 2020, which filled my soul because I think the US is one of the most amazing countries in the world to travel to and visit. But I think a lot of Americans take it for granted. But for me, I love the outdoors, so I love to see national parks, but also our cities. And because of the like, just diversity in terms of immigration in the US, you find like there is all these like little itty bitty countries outside of the U.S. So I think I wish more people took time to explore the U.S..

Dr. Christina Greer [00:06:40] I always tell my students that one of the things that they have to do is drive cross-country at one point in time in their lives, because it helps you understand how hard it must be for someone to run for the presidency, to try and unify all these really not just diverse groups, just like diverse landscapes. You’ve got desert, you’ve got mountains, you’ve got urban centers. And like rural poverty, we have such diversity in this country. And I am a tree hugger. Like I’m a birder, but I’m a legit tree hugger. And one of the best parts about living in New York is that we actually have a lot of really great environmental diversity, not just in New York City, but New York State. And I took advantage of that when when our passports were essentially locked up for spell during COVID.

Jessica Nabongo [00:07:23] But yeah, yeah, I, I did a really beautiful road trip in New England, so I went all the way up to Maine and so did Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, upstate New York, like it was. It’s just stunning. I want to do it again during the fall, though.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:07:41] Absolutely. So I went to school in New England. And so obviously the peepers come in October to check out all the leaves. But before we get started, I’m going to plant a seed. So when you come back on the podcast, I want to hear some Baby Jessica poetry and a good friend of mine and his mother have hit up all the national parks like that’s their goal together to do that, to travel to the various national parks. And in New York, I was just at the beach yesterday, which is technically a national park, so that’s another sort of bucket list that you can get started with. I’m here. I am making your schedule. We just met.

Jessica Nabongo [00:08:18] Yeah, it’s so funny because I think there is there is over 200 national park sites, but there is only 63 actual national parks.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:08:26] Exactly.

Jessica Nabongo [00:08:27] Yeah. So I don’t know how many I’ve been to occupied before like you. And, but yeah, eventually actually I’m like maybe I’ll count later on today. Eventually, I would love to get to all the national parks. That’s definitely like a lifetime goal, nothing I’m rushing to.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:08:41] Okay, fantastic. Well, you ready to play The Blackest Questions?

Jessica Nabongo [00:08:45] I am. I’m a little bit nervous, but let’s go.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:08:47] Don’t be nervous. It’s all good fun. It’s just all about love. Okay, question number one. You ready?

Jessica Nabongo [00:08:53] Yes.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:08:54] Michael B Jordan captivated audiences, and a museum scene with this Nigerian artifact was worn by the Eric Killmonger character in the movie Black Panther. What did he wear?

Jessica Nabongo [00:09:07] It was like an amulet. An amulet? I don’t know. But. But from Benin, wasn’t it? From Benin City or something as Benin was involved. There was an amulet.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:09:19] This one was an ebo mask. And so it’s the most prominent. Oh, yeah. And it’s masculine, aggressive, massive, evil people of Nigeria, the master distinguished by the large size and bold, masculine features. They’re used in Igbo rituals, and they’re designed to contrast the female dancers with their more feminine beauty. So Igbo consist of, but are not limited to people living chiefly in south eastern Nigeria who speak the Ebo language. So besides, you know, having parents from Uganda, what’s your favorite African country to visit? Of the 54.

Jessica Nabongo [00:09:55] Oh, that’s hard. That’s so hard for me because I love so many. So I can’t pick one, but some that I love. Senegal. Ghana. Nigeria. Sudan. Namibia. Okay.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:10:10] Have you given us a lot of West Coast?

Jessica Nabongo [00:10:15] Now, here’s the question. Tanzania in Kenya.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:10:17] Here’s the here’s a question. And I should have put this in the Black Lightning Round. Is it Nigerian Jollof or are you team Ghana jollof?

Jessica Nabongo [00:10:24] Actually, I think excellent solan jollof is really good. And I’m also a super fan of ceebu jen, which is Senegalese Jollof in the original Jollof.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:10:35] Hot takes!

Jessica Nabongo [00:10:36]  Yeah. So I’m not giving Ghana nor Nigeria my vote. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:10:44] I cannot wait for the the emails and the tweets that come after this incredibly hot take. And so, you know, when when we think of African cultures that were represented in Black Panther, are you looking forward to Black Panther two, or are you one of those folks that was like it was such a great movie. We’re good. Let’s not recreate it.

Jessica Nabongo [00:11:05] No, I’m looking forward to it for sure. I mean, obviously everything that happened, but I’m really looking forward to it. I have a dear friend of mine who passed, AJ Crimson, who worked on the film and was responsible for the our the look of Ironheart, who’s being introduced in Black Panther two who essentially is taking over from Iron Man. So I’m really excited to see his work on the big screen. So I’m very excited for it.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:11:32] And give us his name one more time.

Jessica Nabongo [00:11:34] AJ crimson, he was a celebrity makeup artist. He had March 30th.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:11:40] Okay. I’m so sorry for your loss, but I cannot wait to honor his work. Okay. Are you ready for question number two?

Jessica Nabongo [00:11:47] I am. I better get it right.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:11:49] Okay. Okay. So this 2015 recipient of the National Medal of Arts was selected by former President Barack Obama to paint his official portrait for the Smithsonian’s National National Portrait Gallery. Who is he?

Jessica Nabongo [00:12:05] Kehinde Wiley who I have hung out with because he has a place in Senegal and I got in Dakar like three times a year. So I know that one. And I have his American Express credit card.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:12:15] Yes. Yes. So, Kehinde Wiley, born February 28, 1977, in Los Angeles. Kehinde means the second born twin in Nigeria’s Europe of culture and religion, by the way. And he’s an American artist best known for portraying portraits that feature African Americans in traditional settings old master paintings. And at the age of 11, he took art classes at a conservatory at California State. And at 12 years old, he attended a six week art program outside of Leningrad, now known as Saint Petersburg, that was sponsored by the Center for U.S. and USSR. And so he has a BFA from San Francisco Art Institute and an MFA from the School of Art at Yale University. And so his breakthrough was the Passing Posing series in 2001 to 2004, in which he replaced the heroes, prophets and saints of old master paintings with young Black men who were dressed in trademark hip hop attire. And in 2019, he started an artists collective that you just mentioned, named for the volcanic rocks that blanket the shorelines of Senegal called Black Rock. It’s a multi-disciplinary artist and residence program that brings together international artists to live and work in Dakar, Senegal, for 1 to 3 month stays, which I think is just such a beautiful way to pay it forward and really invest in the future of art. And so the Black Rock compound was designed by Senegalese architect Abebe Jen. Jenny, I think I’m pronouncing it right. Derek in India. Jenny. Jenny with interior collaboration between Wiley, Batya, Jenny and I said deal. And the complex includes a residence and studio space for Wiley, along with three single occupancy residence apartments with adjacent studio spaces. I mean, it’s just I’ve seen pictures that have not been there.

Jessica Nabongo [00:13:56] It’s gorgeous.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:13:57] It’s amazing. Yeah.

Jessica Nabongo [00:14:00] And I actually when I was there for Dak’Art. And when was that? May 20, 22. I got to see a lot of the work of people who had gone through the residency, so it was incredible.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:14:14] Now, are you an artist as well?

Jessica Nabongo [00:14:17] I’m a photographer.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:14:18] Okay. And so when did you get into photography?

Jessica Nabongo [00:14:21] 2005.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:14:23] Okay. Based on your travels or just.

Jessica Nabongo [00:14:27] Oh, no. I was always just interested in it. And I had a film, SLR, back then. And I remember I went to Uganda. So this was I think it was two years after I buried my dad. And we had gone back for some traditional things we had to do. And I still have those images there. They’re all Black and white. I shot on Black and white film, but I still have them and they’re still some of my favorite images that I’ve taken. But in my book that Catch Me If You Can, there’s over 300 images, most of which I took. The ones that I didn’t take are because I’m in them. So yeah.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:15:03] Who would you say are your inspirations when it comes to photography?

Jessica Nabongo [00:15:09] I mean, definitely Gordon Parks. But I also went to an amazing Board of Arts in Rome as well. Rome gets so many really amazing art exhibits. So yeah, those will be my two biggest photography inspirations.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:15:23] Yeah. You know, I’ve always loved Gordon Parks and, you know, I have some old life magazines, you know, when he was a staff photographer there, and then I happened to meet Andre Wagner, who did the Queen & Slim poster and he takes photographs with The New York Times and is actually this past year was the Gordon Parks fellow. And so when I first saw some of his work, I was like, you know, this. I was like, I don’t want to insult you. I was like, but it reminds me of Gordon Parks. And he’s like, I get that a lot because there’s something about Gordon Parks in the way. It’s like an intimate relationship of Black people that he has that I just feel like he can kind of get a spirit talking through the photograph. I don’t know if you feel that way.

Jessica Nabongo [00:16:03] Yeah, I think I think what I love about Gordon Parks work is the beauty of the mundane. You know, it’s really he just was capturing everyday life, you know, was nothing exciting or was nothing groundbreaking. But it was just he was finding the beauty and the simplicity of the mundaneness of everyday life. And that’s what I love about it, because I think we’re always looking for these big moments or special occasions, but it’s like, is there not beauty in our everyday living?

Dr. Christina Greer [00:16:35] I love that. Oh, I love it. Okay, Jessica, I think you’re doing very well.

Jessica Nabongo [00:16:42] Okay. I’m one for two.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:16:44] You’re one for two. Okay. Question number three. This famous group of servicemen were awarded a total of 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses, eight Purple Hearts, 14 Bronze Stars, three distinguished unit citations, and 744 air medals in clusters for their service in the U.S. military. Who are they?

Jessica Nabongo [00:17:05] The Tuskegee Airmen.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:17:07] You got it. So Tuskegee Airmen were the first Black military aviators in the U.S. Army Air Core, precursor to the U.S. Air Force. And so during the 1920s and 1930s, young African-Americans who aspired to become pilots were met with significant obstacles, starting with the widespread racist belief that Black people could not learn to fly or operate sophisticated aircrafts. And so the JCP, the Black press and others had been lobbying the government to allow African-Americans to become military pilots. However, neither the NAACP nor the most involved Black newspapers approved the solution of creating separate Black units, and so they believe that approach simply perpetuated segregation and discrimination. So in 1938, FDR and Franklin Roosevelt announced he would expand civilian pilot training program in the U.S. And in January 1941, the War Department formed an all Black 99th pursuit squadron of the U.S. Army Air Core to be trained using single engine planes at the segregated Tuskegee Army Airfield in Tuskegee, Alabama. And so the Black pilots flew more than 15,000 individual missions in Europe and North Africa. They destroyed 261 enemy aircrafts and won more than 850 medals during World War Two. And so when we think about the Tuskegee Airmen in these heroic stories of these brave servicemen, what sort of triggers something in you? Having flown all around the world. Do you ever think of them sort of in some of your travels?

Jessica Nabongo [00:18:35] Yeah. I mean, I think for me, I’m always impressed that they put their life on the line for this country. Honestly, that’s what’s always so impressive to me, is like, despite everything they faced, they still did what they could to further the ideals of a country that clearly did not love them. So I think, you know, I think it speaks so much to the integrity of Black people. Right. And the forgiveness the constant forgiveness of Black people, you know, for the greater good, I think because Black people always have been community minded, which is reflective of the African heritage, where, you know, all African cultures are incredibly community minded. And I think you see that flowing through African-Americans and because of the history books. But I think that’s a reflection of being community minded. And it’s beautiful. Yeah, I wouldn’t have done it, but it’s very beautiful.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:19:35] Well, it also makes me think of Baldwin, James Baldwin and this idea that, like, you know, Black people are the greatest patriots who sort of always, you know, are steadfast for a country that doesn’t love or respect them back in these ways. You know, in your travels in this community, do you find other Black people that you see when you’re in non-Black countries? Because I know when I travel to non-Black countries, I’m always just like, oh, there’s a Black person. Hi, I’m Chrissy. Like, I’ll be stay at this place. And especially when I was younger, it was, you know, I had a white travel buddy. And we were we were at the Vatican. And there was an older Black couple and I just went up to them and I was like, Oh, hi, how are they? They gave me hugs. Well, baby, where are you staying? I was like, okay, so we’re staying here. Well, listen, we’re staying at such and such. If you need anything, you call us. Our names are blah, blah, blah. You know, I went back to my wife and she’s like, Who were that? And I was like, Oh, just some Black people. They just need to know that, you know, I’m here without my parents. I’m a young woman traveling, you know, with just a friend. And so I found that when I’m in other countries, especially non Black countries, it’s like the Black folks, whether you’re from the Caribbean, whether from the continent of Africa, whether you’re Black America, we find each other. It’s like, okay, well, if anything pops off, girl, here’s where I am. Have you found that? We’ve been to different places?

Jessica Nabongo [00:20:48] I think, like, I see it, I feel like it’s a very American thing. And I don’t I don’t like for me, I don’t seek it out in the same way. Like, if it happens, it happens. But I’m typically for me, when I am in a foreign country, I’m trying to immerse myself in that place. And that’s why I’m totally like with locals and stuff, you know, I do the Black people nod like, what’s up?

Dr. Christina Greer [00:21:14] And that’s what I’m talking about. Like that, that idea of community. Yeah, she’s like, We’re here when I was much younger, like, it was also like, This is where I’m staying. But now, you know, I do. I was just abroad and you know, we did the nod right in the sort of like the smile and the wink. But I, I was so upset that for the few people that I, you know, gave the nod to and they just didn’t nod.

Jessica Nabongo [00:21:36] But that but that’s the thing that I think it’s a very American thing. So those other Black people you saw may not have been American?

Dr. Christina Greer [00:21:43] Oh, no, these were American.

Jessica Nabongo [00:21:44] Like I.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:21:46] I know that when it’s like when, you know, sometimes African folks like, hey, dude, I don’t know you like that. And I’m like, I get it. Listen, I wrote a book called Black Ethnics. I know the complexities, but when Black Americans don’t give the nods, like, hey, homie, you know we here.

Jessica Nabongo [00:21:59] Oh ok, yeah, no, I would I would find it strange if I gave the nod and a Black American didn’t return my nod, I would find that very strange. So, yeah, I agree with that. But but yeah, because it’s funny because for me, traveling, obviously I’m visibly African. So most people, a lot of people may not even really give me a nod because they think I mean, obviously I am African, I’m Ugandan. So for me, like, my Blackness is so complex because a lot of times if I’m in Europe, people would speak to me in French because they assume that I’m Francophone African. So for me, traveling abroad is it’s a very complex thing because like a lot of times people think that my, my, if I’m using my U.S. passport, they think it’s fake. And if I’m using my Ugandan passport, they think that I’m going to overstay my visa. So for me, I have to deal with like a whole different set of things when I travel.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:22:54] I mean, I think, you know, I travel to to better understand myself and my country and and sort of the world around me. But I do think that this this idea of the complexity of the passport is such a powerful conversation for Black people and especially sort of allude to this in the book, but especially for people who have two passports.

Jessica Nabongo [00:23:15] And also everybody’s American passport is not the same. I think it depends what you look like. I mean, I’ve had issues just trying to get into U.S. embassies. I remember in Italy, I got into the American line and they like yelled at me and like go over there to the other line. And again, I hadn’t said anything and I said, Do what now? And they were like and I’m like, Yeah, yourself, I know how to read. So, you know. So yeah, I’ve had a lot of very interesting experiences being an American passport, passport holder that looks obviously incredibly African.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:23:55] Uh, I can’t wait to have you back. I can’t wait to have you back. We’re going to read about this when you were in high shcool negotiating this. Oh, I can’t wait. I’ve already started your second book project. Good day. Oh, okay. You ready? You’re on a roll. Let’s do a question number four.

Jessica Nabongo [00:24:10] Okay. I’m two of three. Okay.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:24:12] Okay. So this landlocked West African country lies south of the Sahara Desert. It was part of the upper Senegal Niger area, and then became a separate colony in 1919. What country is it?

Jessica Nabongo [00:24:27] It was part of upper Senegal and Niger, but lies south of the Sahara? Well, I’m thinking either Mali or Burkina, but I feel like the Sahara runs through both of those.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:24:47] I would say chose one, hint hint.

Jessica Nabongo [00:24:48] Uh. Let’s go. Mali.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:24:49] Oh it was the other Burkina Faso.

Jessica Nabongo [00:24:51] Let’s go Burkina. That’s about Burkina! No, I got, I feel like, I get that point.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:24:56] You know what? We’ll have the producers decide whether you get a full Black fist or just a little have the little half wave.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:25:01] Oh, okay.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:25:02] So Burkina Faso estimated population about 22 million people. It’s ethnic groups include the Mossi, the Fulani, Mande, just to name a few, Hausa. The official language is French. Although other languages are spoken. And so this is to address the complex challenge. The Great Green Wall for the Sahara and the Sahel Initiative were launched in 2007 by the African Union Assembly, and as part of this initiative, the Royal Botanic Gardens, also known as to have been coordinating the great Green Wall cross-border pilot project to Faso, Mali and Niger since 2013. Obviously, Burkina Faso is doing a lot to address land degradation and Africa’s dry lands. They’re trying to boost food security and support local communities, adapting to climate change and sustainability in their natural resources. And so when I think of, you know, so much of the migration that we see and that I write about has a lot to do with this undergirding conversation of climate change that Black people have been at the forefront of for a very long time, whether on the continent or in the United States. And so Burkina Faso is also as a country that’s often not one of the more traveled to sort of common destinations since you’ve been there. Many people have it as a tourist destination. What do you remember about your travels to Burkina Faso?

Dr. Christina Greer [00:26:23] Yeah, it was great. One of my favorite fun facts about Burkina Faso is that the people are called Burkinabe. Like American, Burkinabe is their denim. So I love that I was there to tell like, Oh.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:26:36] Hey, bae. It’s like, this is my Burkinabe.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:26:38] Exactly. Burkinabe. Yes, but I love that. But had a great time. I went there during a huge film festival that they have, I think, every other year. But I really had an amazing time. I actually spoke at a school to like five year old students, which was so much fun. I had amazing food. I ended up driving, like going up north to see this this little community. And when we were driving across the road, literally a family of elephants crossed the road, which was so crazy because I’m like, What’s going on? And they’re like, Oh, that happens all the time. So yeah, it was it was really beautiful. It’s interesting because I mean, I guess so. I don’t know. But it’s a very dry country. Like it feels like the desert. And then obviously Thomas Mann Karo, who was an amazing African leader, you know, was leading Burkina Faso before he was assassinated. So really interesting country. Yeah, I enjoyed I would definitely go back there.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:27:40] I feel like there are certain African countries that folks travel to a little more common than others. You know, when I think of Senegal or Ghana or Kenya, are there other countries like Burkina Faso that are a little less traveled that we should think about going to? They’re slightly, you know, just they don’t have as much, say, tourism, development or even advertising for us to even know that we should be checking this out.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:28:04] So I love Mali. I thought Gabon was really interesting. I really enjoyed my time and Congo-Brazzaville and Kinshasa, Rwanda. I don’t know. I mean, I feel like more people are going to Rwanda now.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:28:21] It’s so interesting to me. It’s like turning into a hotspot. You know, people want to go, Yeah, gorilla trekking and things like that.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:28:28] Yeah, yeah. And then I would say Eritrea. I really. Huh.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:28:32] Okay. For people who were, say, where to travel, what’s the length of time that you would recommend someone goes to a country to or at least a city or a region to try and get a rough idea of what’s going on?

Dr. Christina Greer [00:28:46] I mean, you know, I think it really depends on how people travel because I feel like I can go somewhere for 48 hours and do a super deep dive. But I think it necessitates you being open to local people, open to learning, open to realizing you’re not an expert in somebody else’s country. But I would say maybe 4 to 7 days.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:29:04] Okay, last question. Are you ready? Yeah. So question number five, widely known for fighting gender inequality in America, her feminist mantra “Unbossed and Unbought” catapulted her to be the first Black woman elected to U.S. Congress in 1968. Who is she?

Dr. Christina Greer [00:29:24] Shirley Chisolm.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:29:25] That’s correct. Shirley Chisolm, you’re killing it. Born November 30th, 1924, in Brooklyn. And so she’s the daughter of immigrants. Her father’s from British Guyana, and her mother is from Barbados. She studied early elementary education at Columbia. She was elected to Congress in 68, and she quickly became known for her strong liberal views that she opposed weapons development and war in Vietnam. In 72, I actually have written about this pretty extensively. She was the Democrat. She was candidate for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. presidency, and she won 152 delegates before withdrawing from the race. She’s a founder of the National Women’s Political Caucus. She supported the Equal Rights Amendment. Legalized legalized abortion throughout her congressional career, which lasts from 1969 to 1983. And she passed away on January 1st, 2005, and was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015. So when we think about women like Shirley Chisolm, who paved the way for women’s rights in this country and around the world, what do you think her legacy means in this moment, but especially for you as you travel and you talk to so many different types of women in cities and rural areas around the world?

Dr. Christina Greer [00:30:40] I mean, I think for me, she’s just a reflection of the excellence of Black women, despite all odds, you know, for her to have number one, I didn’t even know she went to Columbia. But for her to have attended Columbia at that point in history, but to go on again, not caring about the U.S., but to go on and do that and get elected to Congress and get so far in her bid for the presidency. It just continues to show the resilience of the spirit of Black women, but also because the commitment to the betterment of all of the people around them, no matter if they’re Black or white or whatever. I think that she’s just a reflection of who we all are. You know, it’s one of our podcast listeners.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:31:28] For those who watch this show, they can see it. But this is I’m holding a picture of Shirley Chisholm because of what she means, not just to U.S. Politics, but also, you know, folks in Brooklyn like, you know, it’s not just Biggie and Jay-Z. I mean, like you talk to certain folks in Brooklyn. I mean, there’s a love and respect for this woman who did so much, not just for the city of New York, state of New York, and then obviously the country. Okay. So, Jessica, you have done fabulously. And before I let you out of here, you got time for the Black bonus round. I call it Black lighting. Your ready?

Dr. Christina Greer [00:32:03] Now, these are just. Tell me what comes to your heart. There are no right or wrong answers. Here we go. When tidying up around your house, are you playing reggae or afrobeats?

Jessica Nabongo [00:32:14] Afrobeats.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:32:16] Would you rather watch the sunrise or sunset?

Jessica Nabongo [00:32:20] Eww, sunrise.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:32:22] When traveling? What’s better? Shopping or sightseeing?

Jessica Nabongo [00:32:25] Sightseeing.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:32:27] Sailing or motorboats?

Jessica Nabongo [00:32:29] Sailing.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:32:30] Morocco or Dubai?

Jessica Nabongo [00:32:32] Morocco.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:32:34] Travel, pillow or compression socks?

Jessica Nabongo [00:32:36] Compressing socks.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:32:38] And lastly, street food. Or a five star restaurant?

Jessica Nabongo [00:32:42] Street food.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:32:44] Oh, thank you so much, Jessica, for joining us. Please promise you’ll come back and have more fun with The Blackest Questions.

Jessica Nabongo [00:32:51] Absolutely. This was fun.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:32:54] Oh, great. And be sure to check out your book. Give me the name of the title of the book one more time.

Jessica Nabongo [00:32:58] The Catch Me if you Can One Woman’s Journey to Every Country in the World.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:33:03] You are an inspiration. And I’m so thankful that you joined us here. And I want to thank our listeners for listening to The Blackest Questions. If you like what you heard, please download theGrio app and listen and watch many more great shows and share it with everyone you know.

Maiysha Kai [00:33:17] Don’t forget. You can listen to theGrios Writing Black Podcast hosted by me, Maiysha Kai. This isn’t your typical writing podcast. We interview any and everybody that has anything to do with writing from comics to poets to authors to journalists, to politicians and more. Remember, that’s Writing Black every Sunday, right here on theGrio’s Black Podcast Network. Download theGrio’s app to listen to writing Black wherever you are.