Travel influencer Rondel Holder traces his heritage in short films

NADINE MATTHEWS | 3/21/2019, midnight
Brooklyn native Rondel Holder has been a marketing executive at a major national magazine, and a high profile travel influencer.
Holder with tour guide Steve in Ganvie (‘Heritage Journey Part 1’)

“Before I set out on my trip I tried,” Holder says, “I looked up online about each country. I thought I knew a lot about slavery and our history but there is so much new information that I learned from taking that trip. I really encourage people to visit these countries and learn firsthand because there’s a lot that has gotten lost.”

Holder’s parents are from the Caribbean but he grew up in Flatbush, Brooklyn. “Flatbush is dubbed by so many people as ‘Little Caribbean’ because it’s really so heavily populated with Caribbean people.” He further remarks, “New York City which itself is so diverse, you can literally meet people from all over the world. Seeing the differences between my home, which was Caribbean and then going to school, which was African-American, sparked some interest in other cultures from early on.”

Holder, who has already visited over 50 countries, sees travel as an option for the newest generation of Black diasporans. “Our parents’ generation laid the foundation. My generation has the mindset where we are more expansive in our interests. For us, travel is not a luxury, but a part of life.”

Holder thinks anyone can travel the world. “There’s nothing extraordinary about me and the way I was raised,” he says. “I don’t come from wealth by any means but I made travel a priority. I’m hoping that will inspire people to do more even if they don’t travel as much as I do.”

There are other benefits to travel than learning more about oneself and other cultures. “I love connecting with people naturally but also,” Holder enthuses, “it is just good to have an international network. It is an insane attribute to have. Everywhere I’ve gone, I’ve met people and I always keep in contact. Whether it’s someone I randomly met at the Gucci Museum in Italy or a young creative writer in South Africa or an expat in Grenada.”

Asked if he thought there was potential for synergistic partnership between diasporic Blacks and Blacks in Africa, he agreed that potential is strongly there. “There is so much power and information and resources in all these pockets. Blacks in the U.S. have access to technology and resources and there are so many cultural traditions and resources in the Caribbean and Africa.”