Art by Matthew Frazier (IG: @mkamericana)
Art by Matthew Frazier (IG: @mkamericana)

“When I graduated from college. I used to work at a TV station.” globetrotting multimedia designer and travel vlogger Matthew Frazier begins. “We’d listen to police radio feeds to track the news. Sometimes you would hear crimes happening like. ‘two Black men being picked up for breaking into a liquor store.’ Subconsciously, that’s what initially inspired me to start traveling and seeing the world outside of America. I knew that I wanted to live as a Black man from here that was defined by inspiring myself and others not to live a life defined by so much of what we hear and see while living [in the United States].”

Frazier. a D.C.-area-based creative, is as curious as he is compassionate when describing the deeper reasons and meaning behind his touristy. jet-setting ways. Capturing his travel-turned-avocation via Passport Destination, his nearly decade-old travel video blog series, he navigates a world-as-community unified by progressive, passionate, and purpose-driven creative aims.

When not traveling around the world and highlighting Passport Destination’s goals of “social inclusion, tolerance, and camaraderie between international cultures.” Frazier works from home as a design consultant. Hence, he’s a rare creative soul who can blend his paycheck with his passions.

“Nine to five. I’m video editing, so I’m honing my skills,” he said. “When I get home and work on Passport Destination. I’m enhancing video graphics and sharpening my narrative voice. My job and my projects allow for my editing and storytelling muscles to strengthen.”

These stories are often best when showcasing moments where Frazier eliminates racial and cultural stereotypes and his new foreign compatriots find common ground. With trips that include locales as far-ranging as Copenhagen. Denmark to Cape Town. South Africa. and from Moscow to the nation’s capital itself. Frazier’s ability to discover commonalities is as impressive as it is intriguing.

“There are not many people who look like me in Moscow,” he says, breaking into a story about his time in Russia. “I had as many preconceived notions about Russians as they had about Americans. Media is powerful and largely filled with negative stereotypes. Russians are villainous, and Black Americans are basketball-playing rappers or Barack Obama. I am neither of those!”

In Frazier’s mind, the goal of the Passport Destination series is to demystify foreign locales, and “ensure that people don’t just think that all Moscow is about is Putin and Red Square.”

Dig deeper into Passport Destination, and how world travel enhances Frazier’s love of design, art, architecture, food, and fashion shines. Ask him to discuss the creative ties that bind the world, and his appreciation for that fellowship shown via these arts and industries becomes readily apparent. In considering similarities in clothing design concepts in Taipei. Taiwan, and Cape Town. South Africa, he showcases the unique similarities that highlight his favorite facets of global interconnectivity.

“In Taipei, Taiwan. there is a clothing brand called Play Me that modernizes traditional Asian clothing, while still telling the traditional Asian story, Frazier explains. it allows younger generations to engage with these pieces in a fashionable manner. Compare that to Cape Town, South Africa, where the company Unknown Union uses traditional tribal South African clothing and blends them with modern items like peacoats. to tell that South African story. As I travel from country to country. I see these things. It shows me that preserving and appreciating culture and heritage is a timeless. unifying, and worldwide idea.”

In 2018, Frazier partnered with Ritz Camera, the DC Office of Cable Television, Film, Music and Entertainment and the city’s 202 Creates campaign to create a series of Passport Destination episodes highlighting Washington, D.C. From the New York Times to Michelin’s vaunted global restaurant guide, the world’s eyes have turned to the District as a location with the potential to be as vaunted as the global hot spots where Frazier previously traveled.

Thus, the question begs asking: how does D.C. compare?

“D.C. is amazing. Similar to Taipei. Taiwan, the city embraces fitness. play, exploration, and relaxation via organizations like District Running Collective, DC Fray, and Trap Yoga,” says Frazier. who also notes that Washington has many creative focal points that do not compare to anywhere else in the world, yet are significant unto themselves.

“[Designer and public artist] Curry Hackett designed the Howard Walk of Fame, which celebrates people who have performed at the Howard Theatre. They are cast as images in the concrete leading from the theater to Florida Avenue. Probably one million people pass that daily. There’s so much great work done to preserve history and tell stories here.”

Squeezing sections of the Earth — a planet nearly 200 million square miles in circumference — into a connective, informative and transformational 15-minute video is an impressive feat. However, it’s somewhere between Matthew Frazier’s designer mind, editor’s eye, and passionate heart that he’s able to succeed as often as he does at this astounding creative gambit.

Ultimately, a young Black man wanted to establish a semblance of a higher quality of life for himself and generations like him to follow. Passport Destination expands and explodes the painful mythology of often illogical and unpleasant stereotypes, not just of Black people, but all people. From a post-collegiate news reporter to a man who has set foot on half of the world’s continents. Frazier is proving not just that Black men are more than criminals on police alerts. Instead, he’s shown that a world where intelligence and logic are ideal.

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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