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Traveling While Black & American: Philadelphia Edition

Updated: Dec 8, 2022

Known as “the birthplace of America,” "The City of Brotherly Love;" "The Quaker City;" "The Cradle of Liberty," Philly has a lot to offer in terms of history & culture. It is the 1st world heritage city in the United States; 2nd largest city on the East Coast; and 3rd most populous downtown in the USA. Consider visiting Philly because it's the literal home to history; With tits murals, mosaics, museums, and more, it's known as the “Mural Capital of the World.” Also, it is a city of neighborhoods, each with its own unique set of restaurants, murals, shops, customs, and experiences.



DISCLAIMER: In an effort to shed light on a lens that I travel everywhere with, I decided that it was important for me to explicitly talk about My Black American Traveler Experience. I want to stress that everyone has their own experiences and biases traveling to any country. Therefore, my experience may not be your own. In specifying the Black American identity, I acknowledge that while there are some commonalities in experiences as Black people, there is also a privilege of being an American. I am supplementing my thoughts and experience with a context on demographics as I think it is important to paint the whole picture!


Some wonderings you may have that I hope this post helps to answer are:

  • What is the racial makeup of Philadelphia?

  • Is Philadelphia a segregated city?

  • Is Philly culturally diverse?

  • What percentage of Philly is black?

  • How much of Philadelphia is Black?

  • Is Philly dangerous?

  • Is Philly a safe city?

  • Is it safe to walk in Philadelphia?

  • Where are black-owned restaurants philadelphia?

  • What is a list of black-owned businesses in philadelphia?

  • What are black-owned things to do in philadelphia?

 

Table of Contents


Part 1: Know BLACK

What I Expected vs. My Reality // Treatment & Safety // Language // Vibe & Culture // Visibility // Black Stats


Part 2: Celebrate BLACK

Black Art // Black Festivals


Part 3: Amplify BLACK

Learn from a Philly Local her experience being Black in Philly


Part 4: Learn BLACK

Philly's Connection to the Black Experience // Top Locations for Black History


Part 5: Buy BLACK

Uncle Bobbies Coffee & Books // Sweet T's Bakery & Snack Shop // A Day in Black-Owned Philly Itinerary



 

Part 1: Know BLACK


What I Expected

  • Philly is Black AF

  • Philly is a vibe for Black people.

  • Philly is a fairly safe city.

  • Philly has a limited amount of things to do.

  • Philly is a diverse city!


My Reality


A. Treatment & Safety

As a Black person, I felt fully embraced in such a melanated city for the most part. I felt like I belonged. It did help that everywhere I went, I saw Black people. However, I did not always feel safe. For example, when we went to Max's Steaks, a Black-owned Philly cheesesteak, I felt very unsettled as our Uber got closer and closer to the spot. Once we arrived, I wanted to get in and out and waited in the place until our ride came because the area is sketchy. However, the biggest threat to safety was at a July 4th event. We went to the park to watch the fireworks and midway through the fireworks, my husband and I had to run for our lives literally because of a shooting. Fortunately, we came out alive but this led me to think twice about visiting Philly any time soon.


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B. Language

In terms of language, it was easy to get around because everyone spoke English.


C. Vibe & Culture

Issa Vibe! Philly has a LOT of events #fortheculture even when it's Independence Day Weekend. For example, they had an event where they had performances that showcased Black culture, LGBTQ culture, and other marginalized groups. Throughout the entire year, they have MANY events celebrating Black culture to choose from no matter what your vibe. You will not get bored!


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D. Visibility

Considering Philly is one of the Blackest cities in America, visibility was not an issue. I loved that once I stepped into our hotel, not only the staff was Black but the hotel manager was too! Many people who stayed at the hotel were Black too. From local Philadelphians and tourists, I saw lots and lots of Black people. I did notice a huge difference between a predominantly Black area and a predominantly white area in terms of resources and safety that I wish was not the case. It made sense why Philly is the 4th most segregated big city in the USA. Philly has so many museums and tours to be exposed to Black history and culture that I have not seen as prominent in other cities. It felt good to see our history portrayed in such a proud light.


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E. Black Stats in Philly

  • Philly is 44.1% Black, the largest racial group!

  • Philly is the 4th most segregated big city in the USA.

  • Only 2.5% of businesses are Black despite Blacks being the majority.

  • Philly is the 5th largest Black population in the USA behind New York, Atlanta, Chicago, and DMV.


Overall: I felt among my people throughout Philly. Blackness is everywhere you look -- the people, the museums, the tours, the businesses. Philly knows and is proud of its history and contributions to Black History and American history. It saddens me to see that there is a clear segregation of resources for some of the Black community in Philly. I do advise proceeding with caution in certain parts of Philly and being aware of your surroundings.

 

Part 2: Celebrate BLACK


A. Black Art


If you want to experience the beauty of Philly through art, you must take the "Black is Beautiful" murals tour from Philly native Chrissy Watts who showcases the underrated beauty of North Philly through murals.


𝙊𝙬𝙣𝙚𝙧: Chrissy Watts of Philly Experiences

𝙎𝙥𝙚𝙘𝙞𝙖𝙡𝙩𝙮: Group Tours

𝙈𝙮 𝙇𝙤𝙘𝙖𝙡 🔌: Check out Philly Experiences website


𝙃𝙤𝙬 𝙒𝙚 𝙈𝙚𝙩: I found her through an internet search. I then later discovered she had also been featured on Travel Noire. I booked the tour on her website and honestly this is one of the best tours I’ve taken!


She has such a genuine, contagious vibe. She is super passionate about her city and brings a unique perspective as a Philly native. She continued the tour way after time to continue to show us her neighborhood because she is that invested!



B. Black Festivals

 

Part 3: Amplify BLACK


Ep. 2: Traveling While Black: Philly Edition as part of the “Amplify BLACK” Series

FEATURING: @dr.afia_abroad, a Philly local

  • BUY: Best Black-Owned businesses and restaurants

  • LEARN: Hidden gems to learn Philly’s Black history

  • AMPLIFY: Experience being Black in Philly

  • CELEBRATE: Most lit 🔥 events for the culture

  • KNOW: Everything you need to know before traveling including treatment & vibe



Philly Content Creators to Follow: LINK HERE


 

Part 4: Learn BLACK


Philly's Connection to the Black Experience


Top Locations to Learn Philly's Black History



 

Part 5: Buy BLACK


How can I spend a day in Black Philly?



What has your experience been traveling while Black in Philly? What do you expect it to be if you haven’t?

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