Black Minimalists: Niambi Wilson
Niambi was featured in Black Minimalists on the Web Part Two.
What drew you to minimalism and what are your goals in living simply?
I have always been drawn to minimalism, but I would have to say that my interest in minimalism peaked when I entered college. I would have to move everything that I owned in my tiny little Mazda that I had at the time. This forced me to only bring the things that I valued the most or the things that were of the most importance.
After a while the things that I left at home I totally forgot about and that showed I didn't really need them. At that point I began to get rid of anything that I could go without using for months at a time.
My goal for living simply is to utilize everything that I own. I never want to own something that is of no use. I do not like having excess when there are people who are in need and who are lacking the basic necessities of life. My goal for living simply is to use any excess funds, clothing or time I have to serve and enrich the lives of others.
You have lived and worked in the Dominican Republic, and now you're in Ecuador, what advice can you share about how to travel abroad inexpensively?
My advice for how to travel inexpensively is to basically teach English abroad or volunteer. Doing so will ensure that your housing is taken care of and food is provided for you. I would absolutely advise you to avoid any program that forces you to pay copious amounts of money for your services. I believe those programs turn into poverty porn for the wealthy so that they feel like they have done humanity a service by paying to witness the hardship of others.
Make sure you save up for a plane ticket and if you want to fly rather inexpensively, you may have to travel during the weekday and you may have to deal with long layovers but it's worth it. If you're low on cash make sure you go to a country where the exchange rate is favorable to your dollar. Stay away from touristy areas as the prices are ridiculous and the atmosphere is purely artificial. If you're looking for an authentic experience I suggest that you go to an area with a very small or no expat community.
What are your top tips for traveling minimally as a solo adventurer?
My top tips for traveling minimally are to basically travel with a carry-on only and enjoy. I usually purchase heavier items such as sheets, bedding, towels, and other bulky items when I get to the country I will be residing in. Also, be sure to check the weather. You do not want to bring clothing that is inappropriate for the weather or the culture.
Speaking of packing light, what are your thoughts on avoiding "Bag Lady" syndrome a la Erykah Badu, on your life journey? Has minimalism influenced your spirituality and worldview?
How to avoid bag lady syndrome. Wow. This is a tough one, but this is how I avoid bag lady syndrome. As a minimalist I make sure that I do not carry baggage both physically and emotionally. If there is anyone or anything in my life that does not serve me then I get rid of it.
If there are any unresolved issues in my life with family or friends I make sure to address them and move forward. I make sure to live each day like it is my last day because I have seen the fragility of life. I have learned that most of the things that we worry about or ponder incessantly really don't help us in any way.
Minimalism has influenced my spirituality and worldview in ways that I couldn't have imagined. I can see through the veil that I call the matrix. I can see how personal human interaction is being replaced by technology. I can see clearly how the news perpetuates propaganda and feeds the public whatever it sees fit. I can see how consumerism is being glamorized. I can see these Europeanized standards of beauty being pushed.
I could go on an on but these things are so crystal clear since I've cut the excess from my life and focused on the essence of life which are positive relationships, giving to those in need, connecting with nature and connecting with the most high to name a few things.
Experiences and relationships are very important to minimalists. How do you enjoy your time abroad while maintaining a strong relationship with your husband and family who are stateside?
I enjoy my time abroad while maintaining strong relationships by using FaceTime and WhatsApp. It's like I never left. Most, if not all the friends I have, I have had for many years so the bond is strong. I could probably not speak to anyone for a few months and we could reconnect like we always do. If you have a lot of weak ties and new friendships I do think that distance would sever the relationship.
Traveling while black can be an eye-opening experience. I know my time in Cuba and Mexico were interesting socio-cultural experiences, can you share your experience as a black American woman in Latin America?
My experience being a black woman in Latin America has been a mixed bag. Let's start with my experience living in the Dominican Republic. Honestly this place felt like home. I was surrounded by other individuals who were just as loud, friendly, and talkative as my family back home.
I experienced a sense of community and belonging that I had never felt before. For once I didn't feel like the minority. Everyone assumed that I was Dominican until I began to speak. Something interesting was that people would look very perplexed when they realized that I could speak English. I realized that they had never been exposed to a black American. Living in the Dominican Republic, I got to see other members of the Diaspora and I realized how similar we are and how we all have a spiritual bond.
Let's go on to my experience in Ecuador. My experience here in Ecuador has been the contrary to my experience in Dominican Republic. Here most of the people are fair skinned or they are native Ecuadorians. There are only a few Afro Ecuadorians. So I do get many stares and I have been made to feel uncomfortable by the intensity of the stares.
I have been blatantly disrespected in some instances. For example, I have been asked when inquiring about something if I am there to sell something and I have also been jumped in line at the grocery store. The native Ecuadorians are awesome though! I love their style, their brown skin, and their spirit. Also, they treat me like a human being instead of a spectacle.
The colonization of the minds of many is so apparent here and it's refreshing to see that some people aren't tainted with negative propensities to make others feel less than. However my encounters with Afro Ecuadorians has been extremely pleasant. Whenever I run into an Afro Ecuadorian it's an instantaneous love and an instantaneous connection. There are greetings and there are smiles.
Overall I really love my people and I would love to travel all over the world just to connect with those of the Diaspora. To encourage them and to take part in their way of life and to see how they have made the best of what they have.
You made a video about skipping Christmas and encouraged people to do something to improve the conditions of their community. How has minimalism influenced your perception of and involvement in your community?
The less I have the more time and effort I can put into building up the morale of my people and treating those who are having a hard time like true kings and queens.
What does being a black minimalist mean to you?
Being a black minimalist means getting back to my true essence, getting back to my core and honoring my ancestors. I want to be a reflection of what those before me worked hard for. I want to reflect true love, inner beauty, connection with the most high and a spirit that is pure.
Being a black minimalist represents the peeling off of these negative stereotypes that have been allotted to my people. It means stripping away consumerism. it means stripping away useless technology. it means fostering positive relationships. It means using the gifts that we have all been given and sharing that with our community.
Is there anything you would like to add and where can we learn more about you?
Make your life count. Much love, peace and prosperity 🏿️.
YouTube: Niambi Wilson