Traveling as a black American in a predominately white country must have been and must still be intimidating and disheartening. Paley’s mother’s experience of refusing to sit at the back of the bus for the sake of a white passenger is monumental, especially for the time period, and in my opinion of what traveling and taking a journey is, her action is a step forward in rebelling against white America. She is traveling both literally and metaphorically by being on a bus but also by keeping her place.
Paley’s own experience of seeing the racial divide on the bus is nostalgic to her mother’s and shows that traveling as a person of color can have similarities no matter the time period. Paley’s rebellion against the white man is embracing the boy instead of fearing the man and giving into his racial remarks. Her experience and her mother’s in a way represent traveling, but through time. The actual act of traveling on a bus is not as important here as the traveling of how the two shared similar experiences of bigotry based on their skin color.
But these experiences are eye-opening to both Paley and her mother and any other person of color who has faced discrimination and say a lot about what living as a person of color is like. Even something as simple as trying to get from point A to point B sets them up for harassment or distasteful comments. This makes one wonder what other simple situations a person of color could be in that would invite these types of situations.
I believe everyone has a right to travel, no matter the distance, freely and safely. Paley’s accounts of what traveling has been like for herself, her family, and people of color prove that even something so casual like traveling can still be problematic for some people.