Annenberg Radio

Black Nomads Meet: Carving out space in the #vanlife community for people of color

After college, Kadedra Holmes quit her desk job to live on the road in her van. Now, she’s the leader of Black Nomads Meet, a blog designed to help digital nomads connect and find independent work.

After graduating from college, Kadedra Holmes worked at a prominent non-profit.

But, she couldn’t bear the long hours indoors and behind her desk.


I’m very grateful. They gave me a lot of opportunities, but I was like this is not gonna work for me. {laughs}. I cannot work at a desk. I just can’t do it.

So, the twenty-seven-year-old from Northern Virginia gave up her job and her apartment to live full-time out of her forest green 1994 Chevy G-20  Mark-Three Series Van.

On the road, Holmes’s van stands out because it is green.

She, herself, stands out in the van-life movement because she is Black — and a solo female traveler.


I’m from Los Angeles where relations with police run ice cold. Blending in is one way to avoid conflict, so I was surprised that Holmes would draw attention to herself in such a bright color vehicle.

Then, as I continued reporting, I found out my instincts were way off.  There’s a lot of stuff going on in our country that can cause a Black woman traveling alone to constantly fear for her safety, especially as she drives around a vibrant, oversized vehicle that easily attracts the attention of police officers.

But, Holmes insists on standing out. And, she’s not alone in that desire. Lucretia Jones, also from Virginia, drives a royal blue van. Tasha Wharton of Florida travels in a 26-foot-long amethyst purple RV she named the Purple Palace, and she calls herself the Queen.

These are creative individuals who are expressing themselves through their vehicles — their homes. These paint jobs are as much a part of their identity on the road as the color of their skin. And, they’re not going to let fear or racism or police brutality get in the way of their truest selves.

On a more practical note, Queen Tasha says royalty makes her marketable.

Queen Tasha:

When I’m driving, I get new followers and subscribers because they want to know what’s going on in here. So what is that purple thing? It’s a perfect opportunity for me to draw attention to myself, for my brand.

Search for Hashtag-Van-Life on Instagram, and you’ll likely see highly-stylized photos in which mostly white couples repose in their vans with iconic backgrounds such as the Golden Gate Bridge or Yosemite Valley behind them.

In reality, van life is far less glamorous —


OK, we’re all supposed to be pooping outside anyway.

And far more diverse.

That’s why Holmes created Black Nomads Meet. That’s a website that encourages people of color who live on the road to share tips and to meet-up where they can.

The idea for the site came to her when she met Lovell and Paris Lee, two Black van lifers who run a similar advice website for digital nomads.


So we saw them. You know, my partner and I, when we were we saw them and we were like, oh, wow, we literally saw ourselves in them. And we were like, wow, this is what we can look like. We can this is seeing yourself in an area where you’re not used to seeing yourself is very inspiring because it makes you feel like something that was not once obtainable suddenly becomes accessible. You know, it feels good to know that there’s an avenue for which you can explore now.

Since, Holmes has stopped seeing her significant other, but she continues to run her site, covering topics from “how to budget for van-life” to “how to stay warm in your vehicle.”

In just over a year, Holmes has recruited seven other Black female nomads including Lucretia Jones and Queen Tasha to help manage the website, create graphics, and plan an in-person meet-up this June at an RV park in Georgia.

So far, they’ve sold close to 80 tickets to the three-day event which includes workshops on mindfulness, planning for digital careers and networking with Black entrepreneurs.


So I think we’re all inspiring and inspiring each other when it comes to empowering our own in ourselves and being successful in in this world of, you know. You know, we’re we’re underpaid and underrepresented and so on and so forth.

On Youtube, Holmes interviews other Black nomads as they show her around their vehicles and share candid moments about what it’s like to be a person of color in a lifestyle dominated by white faces on social media.

Take a listen as Holmes interviews Candyss Roberson, the self-described Beyonce of vanlife with over 33,000 followers on her Instagram page.


What is something that you hope Black people take away from this interview?


I think our society makes us forget who we really are.

Holmes says the meet-up is only the first step toward raising awareness about the Black nomadic community on social media and encouraging more Black people to learn about alternative lifestyles.


Black Nomads Meet can evolve into anything it wants as long as it is serving the people. And it is ensuring that Black people are learning alternative ways of living, especially mobile living in your tiny home.

It used to be that entrepreneurism started in the garage. For Kadedra Holmes and company, it starts in the van.

For Annenberg Media, I’m Jonathan Horwitz.