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Fox Sports Rob Parker: The Black Man On The White Continent (Antarctica)

Rob Parker yells at people a lot. Let me clarify that, he yells a lot at Skip Bayless. In real life, away from FOX Sports 1 programming, he is a gentle and thoughtful soul. Ask his take on the Cowboys failures while sitting at a table with Jason Whitlock and he morphs into monster that can spew numbers and information at a dizzying rate. But in general he operates at a speed that reminds you of Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue album. Easy, breezy and brilliantly cool. I say all of this to lay the groundwork for Rob Parker the traveler: the kid from Queens who just finished visiting all seven continents.

For most seasoned travelers, getting to at least six continents is easier than expected. You can catch a bargain flight to Europe, maybe you have a business trip to Asia, or sneak into Africa from Spain (Yeah Morocco counts as Africa). But the final continent on most people’s list is a beast. There’s a reason why they call Antarctica the end of the world, and getting there is no easy feat.

When Rob decided to go the White Continent (it earned that name because it’s basically a huge block of ice) he got a lot of the standard stares and questions. “You know black people don’t f*** with the cold?” “You know brothers don’t do cold and water?” Rob heard it all, but his goal was simple, go there, see it and touch it.

Getting There Ain’t Easy!

The trip to Antarctica isn’t easy, and it’s not cheap. Prices start around $5000.00 dollars on the budget, low end, but realistically expect to spend closer to $12,000. Rob went with the group Antarctica 21, a boutique travel vendor that offers two ways to get to Antarctica: air or by sea. Most people opt for the flight because the two day journey by boat can be a monster. The Drake Passage is known for vomit inducing storms that can turn the cruise into a hellish nightmare. Rob chose the cruise.

It’s a two day journey to Antarctica by boat, and Antarctica 21 offers itineraries that stop in Cape Horn, the Falklands, and other locations. “We got to walk the snowy terrain, see wildlife up close. The penguins and elephant seals were so close you could practically touch them (although he knew better).” Rob also added that on the boat, “the whales put on a nightly show outside our window as we ate dinner.”

Antarctica is fiercely protected against overcrowding and contamination. You just don’t dock, hop off and go crazy taking selfies with penguins. Before being allowed to set foot on the continent every tourist is vacuumed from head to toe so they do not introduce any foreign objects that could upset the ecosystem. It is a necessary evil that has kept this world pristine and uninfluenced by outside forces.

Friends warned Rob he would definitely be the only drop of chocolate on the trip. Surprisingly, of the 75 guests he travelled with 11 were people of color. All like him making their first journey to Antarctica. And like Rob I’m sure all were blown away by the beauty of what they saw. When I bumped into Rob weeks after his trip he was still glowing like a giddy little kid.

#ForTheCulture: The History About Antarctica You Should Know

As always we like to give you the #ForTheCulture angle to every and this one is no different. If you go to Antarctica make sure you look for Gibbs Point. It is the northern most point on the Antarctic Peninsula and named after the first black man to set foot on Antartica George Washington Gibbs Jr. Gibbs was a part of a Naval expedition sent to the continent by President Roosevelt in 1939. Now keep in mind, he was a sailor in the Jim Crow Navy, so nothing was easy about the journey. According to his journal, the two commanding officers made things exceedingly hard on the sailor every step of the way. Ironically when his ship finally arrived in Antarctica in 1940, Gibbs was greeted by Admiral Byrd, and congratulated on his groundbreaking feat.

Today Mr Gibbs legacy is alive in people like Rob Parker, who make the journey to expand their world and inspire others, because some little kid in Queens could be watching and dreaming of big things.

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