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.