RACHEL BELLE

‘Traveling While Black In Seattle’ is a modern day Green Book

Mar 15, 2022, 3:24 PM | Updated: Mar 16, 2022, 6:38 am
Black in Seattle...
Marlie and Anthony Love out on an adventure. (Photo courtesy of Marlie Love)
(Photo courtesy of Marlie Love)

When Anthony and Marlie Love moved to Seattle from the St. Louis area in 2019, they were eager to explore the region.

“We were kind of like, where will we feel the most comfortable, where it won’t be racist?” Marlie said. “Can I say that? I don’t know. Since coming from the Midwest that was sometimes an issue. But we still wanted to explore so we said, ‘Why don’t we just create a resource for people that are thinking like us, transients that really aren’t sure where to go?’ It keeps us accountable to go out and explore the area as well.”

So the couple created a YouTube show called “Traveling While Black in Seattle,” where they visit museums and restaurants, take hikes, and explore islands and small towns all over the Pacific Northwest. Then they rate their experience based on how much fun they had and how comfortable they feel as Black people visiting for the first time.

“The Green Book actually was the inspiration for us doing this,” Anthony said.

The Green Book, officially called the “Negro Motorist Green Book,” was a guide created in 1936 by a New York postal carrier to share safe places for African-Americans to eat, sleep, and shop as they traveled through Jim Crow-era America. It was updated for 30 years.

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“[Marlie’s] grandmother actually had a copy of the Green Book,” Anthony said. “We had seen it and she was telling us about it and that just blew us away. We were like, ‘What? Ya’ll needed this?’ We was driving back from a day trip in Vancouver and said, ‘Let’s do this every week; put up a YouTube show that will be kind of like the Green Book of the Pacific Northwest, just in a visual form.’ We feel like the Green Book was, in a way, encouraging Black people to travel.”

The Loves visit tourist destinations like the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum and Snoqualmie Falls, explore communities like Vashon Island and Black-owned restaurants and cafes in Seattle like Jerk Shack, Communion, and The Station, a coffee shop in Beacon Hill where we met.

“When we first started, we actually tried to find things we wouldn’t think Black people would do,” Anthony said. “For instance, apple picking. Black folk from the south ain’t too hype on picking anything in the field! But as the show has grown in popularity, we try to listen to what folks are asking us, Black and brown people, on our comments and through our social media; answering those questions.”

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They’ve made 88 episodes of “Traveling While Black in Seattle” and only one experience has been negative.

“It was in Forks, Washington,” Anthony recalled. “We were going to do a little funny episode about ‘Twilight.’ We get up there and right when we get to the town, there’s a restaurant. Right when we walk in, we get that look. Everybody gives it to us. It takes a while for somebody to come up and seat us, throw down the menus. Finally some lady comes up, takes our order — not very pleasant. Kind of still feel like everybody is looking at you so we said, ‘Let’s just get out of here.’ So we got out, but the looks we were getting from even the folks in the town, no lie, we slept with the chair up under the door because we had that feeling like this just ain’t right. So we got out of there first thing in the morning.”

They got a lot of feedback on that episode. A lot of people said they had a similar experience in Forks, while others thanked them for the warning, and a handful of locals defended their community. The Loves say they’re not out to villainize anyone.

“This is based on our experience,” Anthony said. “We want people to go check it out, and we encourage people to share their experience.”

Sometimes the videos receive negative feedback, even though 87 out of the 88 episodes are positive.

“The folks that don’t really like what we’re doing, they call us racist,” Anthony said. “They call us ‘Traveling While Racist’ and all these crazy things, when in fact we’re trying to promote more unity and more diversity. I think what’s kind of cool about me and Marlie is — that stuff, … it hurts, of course, but it doesn’t make us hate.”

Making the show keeps the Loves busy exploring Western Washington. What have been a few of their favorite spots?

“I love beaches and water, so I loved Bainbridge Island, Vashon Island, Deception Pass in Whidbey was really cool,” Marlie said. “I just love Seattle, in general.”

“Mount Rainier — that was really cool,” Anthony added. “Even though we only stayed there like 10 minutes. We did not know that there was snow up there! It was October, we had shorts on. But it was dope, beautiful, and we want to go back.”

Listen to Rachel Belle’s James Beard Award nominated podcast, “Your Last Meal.” Follow @yourlastmealpodcast on Instagram!

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‘Traveling While Black In Seattle’ is a modern day Green Book