Black Lives Matter

First of all, we are not experts here, and there are many, many, many voices that should be listened to before ours when it comes to matters of race, inequality, discrimination, and privilege. We also recognize that while equality is a fundamental and imperative struggle for all of humanity, that we are insulated from many of the challenges and realities faced by others.

We feel our responsibility is to listen, learn, and then amplify and advocate as best we can. It’s an ongoing process.

But since we have a platform, and recognize that other people may be going through the same process of “un-learning” as we have, or are feeling like they’d like to do more, but aren’t sure where to start, we thought it would be helpful to share some materials from folks who know far more about these topics than we do.

There are numerous resources for all of this, but here are just a few that have helped us as we’ve tried to understand how best to be supportive.

Understanding this moment

Black lives matter. This post with “commonly asked questions by white and/or privileged people, answered by other white and/or privileged people” is an excellent starting point for those of us who might not fully understand how best to address racism, acknowledge our privilege, or otherwise take meaningful and helpful action in the current environment.

Systemic vs. Systematic

There’s a lot of discussion lately about “systemic racism”, and what that even means. Part of the confusion seems to stem from the similarity with the word “systematic”, but the difference is important.

Systematic — something that is being done intentionally, often step-by-step, to achieve a specific result. Airlines, for example, have systematic methods to ensure the correct passengers make it onto the correct airplanes. A system has been constructed with a specific purpose, and there is an overarching plan.

Systemic — Something that is pervasive, is often unapparent or invisible to many, and often goes against our personal idea of “common sense”. It may or may not be unintentional in practice, but the system has ultimately been constructed in such a way that certain outcomes are favored.

One of the most approachable examples we’ve heard of this difference is in the differences with being right or left-handed. No one is actively or deviously systematically “out to get” left-handed people like Ben, but things like whiteboards, tools, scissors, door construction, piano compositions, and restaurant seating serve as reminders that there is a systemic societal bias in favor of right-handedness.

When something is “systemic” it generally means that we have certain biases and assumptions built into our habits, laws, and institutions — what might seem normal to the majority of us is often experienced in a very different way by others.

Thinking about privilege

Speaking of privilege, these Boise State Writing Center checklists are useful for starting to think about some of the various privileges some of us may benefit from when it comes to Class, Citizenship, Gender and Gender Identity, Sexuality, Ability, and more.

It’s uncomfortable, and that’s okay. Here’s the list on White Race, Ethnicity, and Culture Privilege:

  • I can expect that I’ll receive days off from work for holidays that matter to me.
  • People know how to pronounce my name; I am never mocked or perceived as a threat because of my name.
  • I know that the police and other state authorities are there to protect me.
  • People of my race widely represented in media, positively as well as negatively.
  • When I am told about our national heritage or about ‘civilization’, I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.
  • I can expect to see many students and professors of my race on campus.
  • I do not often have to think about my race or ethnicity–in fact, I don’t really notice it.
  • I do not have to worry about incarceration unless I commit a very serious crime.
  • People do not assume that I am unintelligent or lazy based on my race.
  • There have never been attempts to scientifically or socially eliminate people of my race or ethnicity.
  • Other people attribute my successes to my personal merit.
  • My race or ethnicity will not make people around me uncomfortable.
  • I do not have to worry about being chosen last for a job or housing due to my race or ethnicity.
  • I can move into a new neighborhood, start a new job, or enter a new school or class and know that the people around me will generally respect and feel safe around me.
  • I can go to a store or spend money knowing that no one will be suspicious of me.
  • I am seen as an individual; I am never held personally responsible for the actions of other people of my race or ethnicity.

“Don’t all lives matter?”

Yes, but right now we’re talking about Black lives. We found this video helpful in explaining to some of the people in our lives who are still struggling with this concept. It may be helpful to you and yours too:

Organizations we support

Again, there are many groups and funds out there providing for both immediate and long-term needs. Here are two that resonated with us and also offer ongoing services (but feel free to share others in the comments):

  • The Loveland Foundation Therapy Fund provides access to therapists and other mental health services to Black women and girls, which seems exceptionally important given how traumatic things are for so many right now
  • The LGBTQ Freedom Fund is a Black-led organization that posts bail to secure the safety and liberty of low-income individuals in U.S. jails and immigration facilities, with a focus on LGBTQ people (who are often disproportionately impacted by incarceration and the corresponding potential for abuse)

Additional resources

At the end of the day, travel is a political act. Having the freedom and resources to move around the globe is a benefit of many other privileges we have.

We’re going to try and do a better job of not just acknowledging that, but also advocating for those who don’t have the same access we do.

And most importantly, we’ll keep listening, and hopefully understanding, even if we can’t exactly relate.

  1. I think we can all agree that the video showing the actions of the four Minneapolis police officers was horrific. Those officers should be accountable, and if convicted go to prison for a long time.

    But I have a significant issue with taking the actions of those four officers and extrapolating them to all law enforcement. You can’t say that due to the actions of those four individuals, that all law enforcement is racist, any more than you can say the actions of some of the looters are representative of minorities as a whole.

  2. Thank you so much this resource and using your voice and platform to educate and empathize.

    – a Black person

  3. I live in JAPAN e I would answer pretty much YES to most of these questions. Should I organize a white life matters around here? I really don’t think so. ALL LIVES MATTER everywhere. We are all people, we are all human beings, and all of us deserve respect. Shame on that violent cop in Minneapolis. Shame on all cops that use violence beyond without the need. Shame on people that think in terms of race and not merit. Shame on all of them. But it does not justify scenes of violence and vandalism we have seen in the US and in the UK. And an inclusive logo such as ALL LIVES MATTER would be much better to show integration instead of partition in society.

  4. Respect. Seriously.

    Thanks so much for posting this. It probably wasn’t easy to do, given that you’ve obviously got a lot of readers who are privileged individuals that dont enjoy being reminded of their privilege. Kind of like when you’ve been top tier status for so long, you don’t even realize that there are other people on the plane who aren’t getting treated the way you are.

    For those who don’t like tihs post – imagine what the flying experience would be like without your status perks. And then imagine getting Dr. Dao’ed by the police. 🙂

  5. I’m so happy to see this posted here – and I really appreciate that you hit on privilege and the issues of “don’t all lives matter?” to emphasize that this is going to take real dedicated strong attention across the US and the world to address it – and it’s not a matter of just saying one thing or another.

    I’m sure it takes a lot of courage to post this online since there will always be contrarians who choose to continue to spread hate or keep their head in the sand. So here’s to one more positive comment to continue encouraging and open dialogue about change!

  6. David & Ernesto your concern over cops being lumped together just as you lump the peaceful demonstrations to the vandalism. ;-(
    I understand the frustration, desperation p, & anger that will cause folks to act out, but most of the violence was caused by white fascist provocateurs

    Thanks, Ben, for your Resources and the headliner on your pages. 🙂

  7. Bill n DC:
    I don’t think your comment about violence being caused by “white fascist provocateurs is any more true than a statement that the violence was caused by “ANTIFA communist provocateurs.”

    Peaceful protest is a right we all have as Americans, and I will defend that right for anyone, no matter how much I disagree with them. Violence, rioting and looting is against the law and nobody has the right for any reason to burn down private property, steal from stores and commit murder. No one has the right to break the law for social protest.

  8. Thank you for using your platform to educate and enlighten. As a black person, it gives me hope that there are people out there of other races who truly understand the problem. If EVERYONE In the U.S. did their part in acknowledging the ills that plague our society, we may one day be able to eradicate them. It’s the people who don’t see a problem or don’t care because it doesn’t affect them or their family personally, that are the problem. I know I’m not alone in thinking this country can be a better place to live for ALL of its citizens. We can make it so, if we just try harder and it starts with caring about every citizen, not just the ones who look like you. The reason for the term “Black lives matter” is to remind people that black people in the U.S. don’t feel that their lives or the lives of their family members matter. It doesn’t mean that all lives don’t matter. When black people see that white man can murder multiple innocent people in a church in cold blood and arrive at jail alive and in one piece, they see that clearly this person’s life (at least at the time of being arrested) seemed to matter to the police officers. However, when black people constantly see images of black people being brutalized or killed unjustly by police officers for lesser crimes than murder, what other conclusion are they to reach other than clearly their lives are not considered as important. Too often it seems if you are black, you are charged, tried, and sentenced to death on the spot by police officers and not allowed to have the justice system decide your fate. If you don’t understand that, then you are without the ability to place yourself in the shoes of someone else or to have empathy.

  9. Shelia:
    I wish the BLM movement had your view about the issue. Lovely words indeed.
    Considering them, on top of “ALL LIVES MATTER” I would also put “BLACK LIVES ALSO MATTER” as it reminds everybody that black people feel unfairly treated and it is also very inclusive.

  10. Not interested in your woke politics mate, only interested in your excellent OMAAT travel blog. The best in the business. Stick to what you are good at and leave the political bullshit to the mad Lefties.

  11. Nice one Lucky. Especially brave considering what I expect would be the demographic of this blog. Unfortunately many of the comments appear to be ignoring all your thoughtful comments and the video.

    If you find yourself saying “all lives matter” (while technically true, of course), you have completely and utterly missed the point. Another way to think about it: people saying “save the rainforests” doesn’t mean they don’t care about rose bushes, it just means that rainforests need some extra care and attention right now 🙂

    Keep it up Lucky.

    Black lives matter.

  12. Enough of this white privilege nonsense. Been hassled by the police Check, Been followed in stores Check, Had stares and hushed whispers Check. We do need to hold bad police accountable, and then we need to hold bad teachers accountable. Then we need to look in the mirror, how do we treat people? Is it how we want to be treated or are we dicks to people. We socialize with all races, and on occasion some minority will say something that I am treated better by the wait staff. My answer to them is that I don’t interrupt them when they are talking to someone, and I say please, thank you and am generally polite. I have also found how much of assholes former friends are when they see me with our minority friends. You know the ones that are generally chatty except when you’re with your mixed group of friends.

  13. Hey man,
    I’ve never commented on this website before, but I think this deserves it. I really appreciate what you are trying to do. The first step to combating inequality is recognizing it, and I’m glad we all here (save some pretty notable and gross exceptions in these comments) seem to have realized that. If you can afford numerous plane tickets, chances are you are not part of the group of people who are systematically oppressed in this country. I would argue that there are too few black pilots and black people in positions of power in the aviation industry.

  14. Hi lucky thanks for doing this. I think we all agree that recognizing the problem is the starting point and I would like you to recognize the lack of ethnic diversity among bloggers here. Maybe you think race is not relevant in blog writing but it is an aspirational blog with high end travel reviews. Don’t you think that it is good to show that non-white people can do it as well? Wouldn’t it be nice to see ethnic minorities traveling in first class and to show that it is possible for them to hve the luxury travels so that ethnic kids can see that? Kids learn about societies from role models and I don’t think we have enough non-white high end bloggers. Actually often times I get dismissed when I comment on racism on travel blogs and get ignored by the blog writers. When you were hiring a few years back I pointed out the lack of diversity here but I didn’t get any response and we all know the end result. Second step would be acting. It seems like you started acting but there are things you can do better. Instead of having a statement only, please let your actions speak. Please do what you can do better (travel blog) instead of simply supporting some non travel related stuff. If we all do what we do the best in terms of solving the issue, that would be better than everyone’s scrambling to do something for the sake of doing something

  15. Not to negate the cause of Black Lives Matter, but I feel it is for any minority race as well.
    As a Jew I feel that the Boise University List qualifies my people on almost every single point, though many unfairly attempt to turn the table the other way.
    Everywhere I have lived my entire life neighbors hate me, they call the police, I nearly had my car towed for being considered abandoned in front of my house, I was discriminated at work in school, my last name is a laughing stock, family was killed in the Holocaust and victimized for almost 2,000 years of their history in Europe, we were always second class citizens, accused of contorting the economy, my physical appearance is mocked, I have had Holocaust jokes made at me, I always think about my race and being considered to be different, as well as much more on that list.
    I have suffered and I relate and sympathize with the cause for equal rights and the end of racism and discrimination in a safe and peaceful manner.
    All minorities are discriminated.
    Today Blacks, tomorrow Asian’s, after that Hispanics than the Jews, repeat!

  16. Can you please help everyone by giving us more information on an organization we are supposed to support. I would like to see maybe their mission statement, a preamble, their vision of the American family etc.

  17. @David & @Ernesto — According to your “yes, but…” rationalization, the American revolution, the French revolution or even the civil right movement should not have happened.

    “Yes”, the malevolent monarchies or systemic racism were awful, “but” the people should just have avoided reacting violently or, in the case of civil right marchers, resisting…because two wrongs do not make it right. Well, that is the fallacy: all wrongs are not created equal. To shoot someone for no reason is wrong and a crime; to shoot someone in self-defense is neither a wrong nor a crime, though in both cases the action is the same – shot fired, person dead.

    Kudos, @OMAAT, for the moral stand.

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