Home #Hwoodtimes Author Alana Best takes readers on a journey through new eyes in...

Author Alana Best takes readers on a journey through new eyes in her new book “Around The World in Black and White”

By Bethany Nicole

Many of us dream of taking a year off to travel the world but find a myriad of excuses for why it won’t happen. Alana Best not only made it happen, but she also made it happen with a newborn in tow! Basically, she’s our hero. In her new book, she takes readers on her around-the-world journey as a member of a biracial, blended family that included a newborn! Trust us, it’s a journey you won’t want to miss and a book you won’t be able to put down.

Alana is a writer, travel enthusiast, and mom. A policy strategist by day, she enjoys working on files that will help make a difference to the citizens she serves. This has ranged from helping youth determine future employment demands, implementing regulations on organic foods, and now, modernizing the policing and public safety continuum to address issues such as systemic racism. She lives in Victoria, British Columbia, with and her husband, Roland, their three children.  They will never stop exploring.

We got the opportunity to sit down with Alana and discuss her breakout book (the first of many we hope!) and all the different layers the book represented. We mean seriously, where do we even begin?

We decided to start with the logistics piece. How did Alana achieve the dream of taking a year off to travel the world? First off, she lives in Canada, so let’s start there. In Canada, Alana explained many companies offer a plan that allows employees to defer part of their salary for five years, in exchange for one year off. They are assured of their job upon their return. (Sheesh, we can’t even get health care here in America.) Regardless, she and her husband Roland took advantage of the plan and at the end of five years were ready to take on their big adventure. With one small addition to the plan—Alana was pregnant!

Traveling the World with a Newborn

She and her husband Roland had decided to start a family together and it lined up that the baby would be born right before their year of traveling the world. The pair decided they were still going to make it work and Alana got busy figuring out just exactly what they would need to make sure their soon-to-be-born son, Kymani had everything he needed on their big trip. One of the things that really stands out in the book, is Alana’s ability to look at what many would view as preventative blocks, simply as obstacles. Instead of viewing a newborn as a block to her and her husband’s dream of traveling the world, she simply viewed having a baby in tow as requiring a little extra consideration. She spoke with pediatricians, found clinics all along the way, and figured out which tour groups allowed infants and strollers. She prepared as much as possible pre-trip and the rest she just figured out along the way. Incredible.

Alana did not allow any preconceived notions of parenthood to stop her from making decisions that were the best fit for her and her family. She gives readers a glimpse into what could be possible in their own lives if they don’t let others define the rules for them. Alana explains that really what babies need is love and caring, and that is something that can be provided for them in any location, even exotic ones. By simply living her life by her own rules, Alana provides an example all of us can follow, showing us the only true boundaries, are the ones we impose on ourselves.

Alana Best and her child

While Alana put a lot of pre-planning into her family’s big adventure, there was one thing she had not been able to plan for, which was how the world would respond to her blended biracial family, including her Black husband, Roland. (Alana also has a daughter from a previous relationship who joined them during part of the trip.) Alana was shocked at the blatant racism the couple faced with everything from prying questions to places where people actually pointed and laughed. Alana got a firsthand view of the daily realities her husband lived with, from being followed in stores by security, to being pulled aside for TSA inspection on multiple of their flights. Alana explained that during their day-to-day lives, she didn’t see as much of what he experienced but during their year of travel “We were together 24/7.” She explained at home, they normally go about their individual days going to different jobs, perhaps one of them stopping to do the shopping on the way home, etc. When traveling together, however, they were together almost all of the time.  Alana now was getting an entirely new perspective on what life was like for her Black husband and could be like for her biracial son.

We discussed if this was the motivation for her writing the book. Alana revealed friends and family had urged her to share the story of her travels and she had initially thought “Who would read this?” (In our opinion, literally everyone!) Yet, she began to take creative writing classes, and as she shared her story with more people, it soon became apparent, her story and this book were desperately needed.

Viewing the World Through A New Lens

We discussed how many of Alana’s own preconceptions fell away during her trip, and how she had wanted to believe that the world had advanced beyond racism. She said that often when her husband had presented a slight, behavior or incident that he felt was racially motivated she would sometimes brush it off. Yet now she realizes that her role in that space was to listen. “They are picking up on body language and other non-verbal cues” she explained, “the same way that women can determine if a look from the opposite sex is sexual or not.” Alana explains that she realized even if she wasn’t aware of what was happening in the moment, that she learned to trust Roland’s judgment on it, “he has lived with it his whole life. He knows.” So now, instead of dismissing such incidents or brushing them off, she listens.

Alana reveals that everyone can be a voice for the change in racial relations, she encourages people to have conversations about it, even if they are tough. In the book she discusses how some of the tour guides on their trip, asked probing or uncomfortable questions about her relationship with Roland including “Did you know he was Black before you met him?” (The couple met online.) While it was difficult to not be offended by such questions, Alana realized that by having the conversation she was hopefully giving this person a new perspective. She continued to have tough conversations with her friends, family, tour guides, and Roland so that she could push out of her comfort zone and “do hard things.” In fact, that is a motto that she really utilized during her trip. That the more out of her comfort zone she stepped the more confidence she had that she could do hard things, which was helpful in traveling the world with a biracial blended family including a newborn.

Alana Best

She encourages everyone to have the tough conversations and to do research on racial relations. “Watch documentaries, read books,” she says. She explains educating ourselves on these tough issues is how we create change. And of course, as she has learned, it is important sometimes to just listen, to hear the experience others are having and use that to help educate. It is excellent advice we certainly could all use and this author’s book gives us a lot to think about.

Check out more about Alana and keep up with her busy family here:  https://www.alanabestauthor.com/

Instagram/Twitter: @alanabestauthor

What We Thought:

This book presents so many important themes and Alana is truly a natural travel writer. She adds humor, honesty, and moments where things get real, which creates an authentic connection with readers. Her writing captures the perfect ups and downs travelers are so familiar with while also presenting readers with a new lens to view the world through.

Alana travels the world with her husband and sees the world through his eyes in a way she (and many of us) never have before. She takes readers along with her on the enlightening journey into the racial bias that she and her husband experienced and how that opened her perspective in a whole new way.  She also reveals her own unique experience while in South Africa, of feeling in many ways, what her husband often must feel. She discusses being the only person of a certain race in a room and how much attention she attracted simply by the color of her skin. It is a unique experience that provides additional insight into an issue we all should familiarize ourselves with to a greater extent. The book presents themes that are very relevant to today and can help move us forward in creating a closer, more inclusive society.

Another theme we really enjoyed in the book is Alana’s ever-present message to live a life, including a family life, in the way that works for you. Alana travels the world with a newborn, a concept many of us would never consider. Yet she navigates the process with such grace, capability, and intuition it allows all of us to realize—this is totally possible.

This book is also an essential step in understanding racial relations and in combatting the racism that still exists not just around the world but often in our own backyards. Alana provides insight that readers can use in their own interactions with others and in combatting racism in their own homes, workplaces, and communities. Simply by being more aware, having the tough conversations, and being good listeners, many of us can become allies in the fight against racism.

Many of us, like Alana at the beginning of her trip, want to believe racism is a thing of the past, that surely, we have evolved past it. Yet Alana reveals through her book, that our dismissal of the problem, does not make it any less real. We have to be able to open our eyes to truly see the world around us, and this book could be a huge first step in that direction for many.

The book presents themes of family, race, travel, birth, death, life, and love. It includes all the feel-good moments and tragic plot twists that make for a captivating story told from the authentic and relatable viewpoint of a truly remarkable travel writer.

We cannot recommend this book enough as a step in broadening your perspectives on life, love, and the pursuit of your own happiness. Basically, this book is a must-read and we are on the edge of our seats for any sequels.