We had dinner with Marlie and Anthony Love, the unbelievably adorable couple behind Traveling While Black in Seattle.
One of Seattle’s most beloved restaurants is Communion. It’s also one of the hardest to get into. After announcing their reopening post-lockdown this July, they nearly broke Resy with a slew of eager diners ready to dine at the lauded Southern restaurant.
However, I was one of the lucky diners to nab a reservation. After all, what better place to meet Anthony and Marlie Love, the creators of YouTube channel “Traveling While Black in Seattle”?
The couple’s YouTube channel documents their adventures around the Seattle area, with thorough breakdowns of what the experience is like, and most importantly, what it’s like through the lens of a young Black couple. With their infectious, endearing energy, and refreshingly unfussy vlogging style, even Drew Barrymore is smitten with them.
Take a look at the comments section on their videos and you’ll find moving statements like, “Growing up in Puyallup I have dealt with a good amount of racism… As an adult, It made me not want to travel around here although there’s many places I would like to go to in [Washington]. Thanks for this channel!”
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Originally from St. Louis, they winded up in Seattle for work but fell in love with the city after a visit in 2015. Now they hope to empower and excite Black travelers in the area and across the country.
Over a feast of smothered pork chops, the couple explained to me the significance of their series, their love for travel, and their love for the Emerald City.
Why does Seattle feel so special to you?
We don’t know why, but we fell in love on our first visit in 2015, but what makes it special for us now is that the area is so beautiful. [There’s] mountains, lakes, beaches…and we love experiencing it all for the first time.
How did Traveling While Black in Seattle come to be?
[The series] came to us on our way back from a day trip to Vancouver, Canada, in September 2019. We wanted to start something that would encourage us to continue to get out and experience the area. We also wanted to do something that could possibly help people out in some way. We thought about what we always wish we knew more of before moving here, what were the experiences like for people of color, specifically Black people in these places. We added a “Drive Grade” and “Level of Fun” to encourage people of color to get out and experience these places that they may have [never] thought to visit because either they didn’t know about them or they may have had concerns.
Tell me about the “Black Person Comfort Meter” grade. Part funny, part sobering, why do you think this gauge is important to Black travelers?
We’ve all heard about the Greenbook [Cool fact alert: Marlie’s Grandma has a copy of an edition which is how they first learned about its existence] and we believe that our “Black Person Comfort Meter” serves the same intent as the Greenbook was published for: highlighting safe places for Black people to visit. Every time we travel anywhere that concern is always in our minds, and we feel Black people’s minds in general, and since Google and Yelp reviews don’t really address that [specific] concern, our intent is that our show via the Black Person Comfort Meter can.
Tell me about your favorite trip you’ve taken since moving to Seattle and/or your favorite episode of the series.
We get this question a lot! But what’s great about it is that our answer is always changing! At this moment we’d have to say Ocean Shores absolutely stands out as our favorite. It was our first experience in Washington on the coast and our first experience driving on a beach. The views were awesome and we want to take our family back to experience whenever they come up to visit.
Give us your Top Five Must-Dos when visiting the Seattle area.
So when visiting Seattle, the top five must dos we recommend are Space Needle, MOHAI [Museum of History and Industry], Pike Place Market, Seattle Underground tour, and take a ferry to one of the islands. [The couple recommends Bainbridge despite their initial feelings in one of their episodes.]
What would you say to Black people wanting to travel in or to mainly “white-centric” or not-as-diverse cities?
Go. Exercise your freedom and go. That’s a big reason why we do our show. Some people accuse us of looking for racism, when on the contrary, our reason is to encourage people of color, encourage Black people to get out and go.