Social media never ceases to amaze me. It really does create a network of people that you come to develop relationships with. There is always that one person who you have a random, soft connection with yet you are all the way here for. You scroll her instagram feed and see how her personal life is thriving with super cool friends and a loving family and at each career advancement you cheer her on in your head like, “You go girl! You’re killing it!”. You come to anticipate the many think pieces, music links and event invites she shares on social media because ya’ll are on the same wave length. Ya’ll appreciate the same things. Ya’ll hate the same people. Although you may have never talked to this person in your life and no matter how one sided the
relationship stalking may be, she is like your best friend in your head but for real for real…
This is my relationship with Kristin Braswell. In all honesty, we do have a stronger connection than one randomly established online. Kristin has assisted in bringing ATWC’s online presence to the forefront. She selected us to work on Carol’s Daughters online series “The Curl” which she produced herself as well as putting us on to many opportunities which followed. We have remained social media friends ever since and as stated before, I am totally here for her. She is truly a friend in my head and if we were ever to link up in person, I’m pretty sure we would vibe out as well.
Kristin is a travel writer, producer and newly titled entrepreneur. She has created a new online publication called CrushGlobal which encapsulates her two greatest loves – writing and travel. I am excited to present you all with her interview. To me, she is an inspiration. She is black girl magic personified. She is the supernatural result when grit, endurance and raw talent meet in a weightless, limitless, cage-less free spirit.
Tell us about yourself. Where were you raised? Where did you go to school? Where do you reside now?
I was born in Los Angeles, but I feel like I was raised in both Los Angeles and New York. I attended the University of Pennsylvania in Philly and have been a proud Brooklyn resident for years.
Have you always wanted to be a writer? Tell us your earliest memories of realizing that you wanted to become a writer.
I’ve created stories in my mind for as long as I can remember, and the easiest way to translate those stories was on paper. Looking back now, I realize that creating those stories was a means of survival. I did not always fit in as a child, so when I wrote, I found purpose and felt empowered. I was very much a loner and a bit obsessed with reading. So being drawn into this fictional world I was reading about inspired me to stretch the limits of reality in my own writing. It’s not always easy for me to communicate an idea verbally, but when I write, I feel closer to myself and to others.
Are you more drawn to fiction or non-fictional writing? Why? A little bit of both, honestly. I love writing and reading fiction because there are no limits to a storyline within the realm of imagination. I also love non-fiction. When I read the words of Malcolm X or James Baldwin, the message always punches me in the gut. Isn’t that the beauty of words, of film, music and dance, really? That sometimes it only takes so little- a short scene or melody- for so much to be understood.
To say that you are accomplished in your career is to say the least. You have been published in Essence, Huffington Post, Los Angeles times, Ebony, CNN Travel and ForbesLife to name a few. Can you describe your career journey? How have you been able to keep your work circulating amongst such reputable publications? Any advice to young writers?
Am I accomplished? (smiles) Thank you. There’s soooo much more I want to do, but, I am FINALLY getting a to a place where I can say “dang girl, you did that!” For anyone reading this, I encourage you to do the same. Stop for a moment and just pop your collar. You’re bigger and badder than your mind and experiences would have you to believe. My career journey is definitely not typical, and sometimes I still feel like I don’t know what the hell I am doing and would rather just be eating pizza and listening to music on a beach.
I began in breaking news, working at various networks in hopes to become a broadcast journalist. I won’t sugarcoat this. I got laid off, a lot. It was never a reflection of my work, and really the byproduct of companies that undervalued their employees and were trying to keep up with an ever-changing industry. For years, I took it personally, but now I am in a place where I’m no longer affected by any shifts in employment. This isn’t because I think I’m invincible. Truthfully, I’ve been disappointed so many times that it just doesn’t impact me in the same way. The beautiful thing that has come out of that is a shift in my perspective on my own talents. My brother has always told me, “you’re not meant to work for other people, or to have an ordinary life with the picket fence. You are here to do something extraordinary.” And oddly enough, every time I find myself trying to fit in that neat little package of success, I get thrown right back out into the wild. So now I am focusing more on my own business, CrushGlobal Travel. I am in talks with a publisher for my first novel, and I contribute to publications that I dreamed of writing for since I was a little girl. I get to travel the world and meet new people and just give thanks. To young writers I say this: don’t be afraid to pitch. Celebrate your vulnerability and own your story. Expect to hear no more than yes. Know that editors are always juggling a number of things and it’s sometimes more about timing than even talent. I would actually like to help a lot more young writers because I didn’t always have that same support. So, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need some advice.
Top 5 favorite writers.
1.Warsan Shire (waaay before Lemonade dropped).
2. James Baldwin
3. Zora Neale Hurston
4. Ta-Nehisi Coates
5. Bernice McFadden
Name all of the places that you have traveled to. Is there one place that you loved the most? Is there one place you are dying to see but have yet to go?
I’ve been to London, Paris, the Maldives, Madrid, Seville, Tenerife, Barcelona, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Anguilla, Mexico, Hawaii, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Bermuda, The Bahamas, Jamaica, St. Maarten, St. Barths, Berlin, Hamburg, Santiago and Patagonia in Chile, various cities in India, Bordeaux, Montreal, Barbados, Belize, Petit St. Vincent, Cayman Islands, Rome, Capri, Positano, Sorrento, Portugal, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. I love a lot of these places for different reasons, but, if I had to choose, I would say Nicaragua surprised me the most with its natural beauty and good vibes, Bordeaux for its wine and food, and Trinidad for the supreme joy I feel during Carnival. I am a soca junkie and the happiest with some roti in my hand and a riddim playing. I’m dying to get to Cuba and have been for over a decade now. Honestly, I just feel so blessed. I love seeing the world.
Top 5 beauty necessities while traveling.
1. A good gloss because my lips must stay poppin.
2. An eye mask for sleep. Without it, I act a fool.
3. Lotion. You can’t be ashy abroad.
4. An ayurvedic calming spray I got in India. It helps my nerves when I fly.
5. A good book + my journal to collect my thoughts and express gratitude for wherever I am in the world.
What is one thing you have learned about America having traveled outside of it? What is one thing you have discovered about being black outside of the context of being in America?
America is not the center of the world. I feel like we are very much taught that as children and it is in many ways to our own detriment. I travel to other countries and children from all backgrounds can speak different languages and know far more about American history than we ever learned about their countries or customs. It’s a curious thing to me, how disconnected we are from the rest of the world in many ways growing up, but how connected the world is to us. Honestly, I am never really made aware of my Blackness unless I am in a very homogenous place like India or Germany. But even in places like India, there was just a natural curiosity about where I was from rather than any ill feelings about me being Black like I find in the States. I have more of a safety issue sometimes being a woman while traveling than being a Black woman.
You have launched a new site called CrushGlobal Travel. Can you tell us about it? What inspired it? What are your hopes for it’s future?
CrushGlobal was born out of my desire to create a deeper understanding between people through travel. The site offers features, tips and first hand accounts of travel and culture from writers around the world. We also offer curated travel experiences, and will be launching our first group adventure later this year with a few really, really dope people who have a similar vision. Responsible tourism will also be a large component of our curated experiences, meaning, we will find ways to connect to and support the local people and economies of the places we visit. My love for travel and people inspired the brand. I have seen the deepest connections between people during travel, so I want to use that to fuel a transformative movement that is more than just cute selfies under a sunset or the Eiffel Tower. I truly believe that travel can change people and the way we see and treat each other. I think a passport is the greatest form of education and I want to get one into the hands of as many people as possible.
Did Jay-Z really cheat on Beyonce?
HA! I did not see this question coming. There’s so much to unpack with Lemonade that Jay Z’s potential infidelity was actually the last thing on my mind. I am still exploring the gorgeous imagery, the invocations of Yemaya and Oshun, the sheer enormity of sisterhood and redemption. Beyonce dressed as OSHUN gave me life– the sensuality, healing powers and fertility. I just love that there is so much to explore.
I do think that she does a great job of blending fiction with reality- and I had a very visceral reaction to the album as a Black woman. The scene where the mothers of Mike Brown and Trayvon Martin hold photos of their sons broke my heart. We deal with a particular, historical, generational kind of pain, and if you’re just looking at Lemonade as a Jay vs. B thing, you are missing the enormity of this body of work.
We give so much. Too much sometimes. Lemonade created a space for Black women to reckon with our pain and methods of healing, whether that be with a bat or in the arms of the lover who scorned us. I do think people can forgive and grow after catastrophes, but both parties have to be willing to put in the work and be accountable. Anger is easy. Forgiveness takes more work than we can sometimes fathom, but it is possible. I’ve heard a lot of women say that if Beyonce can be cheated on, anything is possible. Ladies, come on. We know good and well that one can appear to be perfect (whatever that means) and still get hurt. That’s why you have to make it a daily practice to love yourself fiercely, as hard as that may be sometimes– and keep that hot sauce in your bag.
Instagram and Twitter: @crushglobal