Marlie and Anthony Love launched their YouTube and TikTok channel over the past two years. Traveling Black in Seattle gives Black people considering relocating or just visiting the Pacific Northwest (PNW) an idea of where they should (and maybe shouldn’t) visit. They do reviews on restaurants, activities, and attractions like museums and pop-ups.
Both use a rating system to measure the ride quality, level of enjoyment, and “black comfort” at each location they visit. The overall score determines whether or not they recommend going. Of course, as the Loves say, that’s just their experience. They encourage black people to go visit the places they visit with an open mind. The two took the time to speak with Travel Noire about their experiences in different places in the PNW and how The Green Book inspired the direction of their channel, Traveling While Black In Seattle.
TN: How did you meet?
Anthony: It goes up. Like back, back. We are from the St. Louis area, St. Charles County. There was this annual picnic they had for all the blacks in the St. Charles County area because it’s a predominantly white county. Thus, black families reunited year after year. They’ve had it for maybe 40 years. That year, Marley and I crossed paths. We started dating and, in fact, our families knew each other before we knew each other. We dated in high school and college. Then we got married and moved to Seattle. And here we are.
TN: So how old were you when you first met?
Married : When we met, I was 16 and Ant was 17.
TN: I heard that you two made the choice to move to Seattle while on vacation there. You were actually at the Space Needle when you decided. How did this conversation go?
Married : My work brought me here for a conference in 2015. Anthony flew with me and we thought it would be fun because I would have a few days off there. We love this so much. We definitely wanted to get out of the Missouri area.
It was our last day here and we thought, “We love this city so much. We were just like yeah, we’re definitely moving here. We had always wanted to get out of the St. Louis area but didn’t know where. But, we were like yeah, this is the city. So we just started making a plan at that time. Four years later, we moved.
Anthony: And now we’re about four days away from our third anniversary of moving to Seattle.
TN: What influence has the Green Book had on your travels?
Anthony: When we moved here, after about a month, we had visitors from home. Thus, throughout the summer, we went out and discovered these tourist places by showing them. When winter and fall came and winter started to roll in, we were wondering how can we stay responsible to get out and see things around Seattle. We had the idea of doing a show on YouTube. Then the next question was what should we make a show about? We remembered the Green Book. We actually saw an original copy at Marley’s grandmother’s house years ago. She would tell us about it and tell us about it and how black people used it.
We thought, why not do something like this. We came to Seattle for Marley’s work and knew nothing about Seattle or the Pacific Northwest in general. So what resource can we provide to other people, especially black people, who move here? It is the same question the Green Book wanted to answer and the same concerns they wanted to assuage that we still see and feel today. It gave us some guidance and a sort of blueprint for what content to create that could be invaluable.
Married: Even when we were thinking of doing the show, I think we were taking a trip to British Columbia, I remember Googling, ‘Are there any black people there?’ We google this and there is nothing there to let us know. So you can go somewhere and be completely uncomfortable, or weird. So we were like we were doing this resource for other people?
Have you seen the movie The Green Book?
Anthony: No. (Laughs.) We haven’t seen it. We will probably watch it one day. I like authentic films.
Married : (Laughs.) I watch a lot of TV shows.
TN: What is your advice for couples traveling to PNW??
Married : First, watch the show. Our show is to encourage people to visit different places in PNW. Go exploring and experience the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.
Anthony: Our biggest recommendation is to come here with an open mind and try things you’ve never tried. For example, Marley and I would never do a YouTube or Tok-tok channel in Missouri. Come here with an open mind and be prepared for anything.
Where did you feel most welcome?
Marly: Seattle. Just in general. We haven’t been to eastern Washington yet. Bainbridge Island, Woodley Island, even suburbs like Bellevue. Almost the entire west side of Washington has been really welcoming.
Anthony: We are working on our 100th episode and in all episodes we really only had one bad experience. Everything else was pretty good.
Where did you feel the least comfortable?
Married : Forks, Washington. We’ve seen that people don’t need to go there any longer than Twilight. Check out our episode, or just Google, Forks, Washington.
Anthony: There are recent instances of blatant racism against black people and other people of color.
Married : In Portland, we felt quite comfortable. We are only here for one day. We got mixed reviews (from Portland.) so we decided to go with an open mind, our experiences will be our experiences.
It was strange. It is difficult to explain. There was no blatant racism.
Anthony: It’s hard to put into words. I’ve heard people describe it as a pretty passive/aggressive type of treatment. With the history of Oregon and the exclusion law and how they had eyelash laws as recent as the 1920s and things of that nature. It didn’t surprise us that there was that kind of feeling up there. This is a state with such a recent history that this type of behavior would die out. We (blacks) are excluded from travel. We have to go out and represent.
Your favorite hotel in Seattle for visitors?
Downtown Hyatt Regency. The staff is super friendly and knowledgeable. They will give you recommendations for things to do and you are downtown but not too downtown.
Favorite Seattle-area restaurants?
Married : Number one. Everybody will agree with that, Communion. They belong to blacks. They won the award for the best new restaurant in the country in 2021. They are only open once a month. Sunday brunches are without reservation. So you can enter.
The Downtown Jerk Shop. This is another black owned restaurant. Caribbean food. So good!
Musang. Filipino/American fusion. It is a house transformed into a restaurant. A family-like experience.
Favorite things to do in Seattle?
Anthony: Go to the beach, to the water. Trying to get Marley to go hiking. Anything outside. Discovery Park is the place to go. Right there in Seattle. There will be an episode in about three weeks on Discovery Park, so stay tuned!
Spoiler alert! If you come in summer, you will fall in love!
Married : Yes! That’s what happened to us.
TN: How did TikTok come into play for you two?
Married : TikTok came second. After the YouTube channel. We did a TikTok during the pandemic. I was mostly a navigator. The more I researched, I thought wow, we really need to get on TikTok. I posted one to present what we do. It got over 200,000 views. So I thought oh wow, people want to see what we’re doing. 47,000 subscribers.
Anthony: Our 100th episode will debut on May 29. It will be a great episode. We plan to expand internationally!
TN: Were people as friendly in Canada as Americans think?
Married : We believe that people are nice in Canada. They were helpful and even helped us find cool places to go during our stay. However, we have only been to Vancouver Canada so not sure if they are like this everywhere. We will also say that when we were in Ubers in Vancouver, people asked if we were from Toronto, Canada.
TN: How do you think your channel will influence black travel long term?
Anthony: We hope our show will encourage black travel, especially in the Pacific Northwest. We want black people to go see the beauty of the world, and we hope to eventually be a part of it.
TN: How do you think your channel influences black travelers today?
Married : We believe our channel first, raises awareness that black people feel uncomfortable in certain spaces. Second, we hope it gets people to experience things they didn’t think they were doing.