This blog is largely about travel, about our life. I was trying to figure out if I should write anything about the Black Lives Matter movement, racial injustice and police brutality on here. This blog isn’t meant to be political. But, a little over a month ago I wrote about how the CDC was wrong and how the US government was unduly treating cruise ship employees. I was political then – that was when it affected me and all the people around me. So, should I not be political now just because I have not been adversely affected by my race and I haven’t experienced police brutality?
That right there is literally my privilege showing itself loud and clear. While I have been in the racial minority in some places that I’ve traveled to, I was never made to feel unsafe simply because of the color of my skin. Sometimes being American felt a bit risky – we aren’t very liked by a lot of the world and I have said I’m Canadian more times than I can count – but, never because I was white.
There’s a lot happening right now. It’s a time where I wish I was in school and could sit in a classroom and have intelligent conversations about the situation. As an adult we don’t have to go to school. We don’t have to sit in a classroom. Instead it is entirely our choice to educate ourselves outside of the comfort zones of people that think like us or look like us or share the same views as us. It is time to educate ourselves on the experiences of people that are different than us and not assume that just because something hasn’t happened to us it hasn’t happened to someone else. Once again, that is our privilege showing itself through.
I have kept coming back to the concept that just because it didn’t happen to you doesn’t mean it didn’t happen to someone else. I grew up in one of the least diverse places in the United States (92.8% white) as a white kid. It’s likely hard for a lot of people where I’m from, for instance, to imagine what is happening elsewhere because they don’t necessarily know someone that has experienced the kind of fear and racial profiling that is being advocated against by groups like Black Lives Matter.
I know this is meant to largely be a travel blog, and the frustrating thing is with COVID-19 right now I can’t really advocate that you physically get out of your comfort zone and travel to meet people and experience different cultures. Traveling has changed my perspective on the world so much and while I have learned a lot through travel I have also learned how much I don’t know.
So, I am advocating for education. If you are out and about (social distancing, wearing masks, etc) and can get to know people different from yourselves that is great! Think of what it might be like to walk a mile in their shoes. Let yourself grow and maybe even feel a bit of empathy towards a fellow human being. If you can’t get out and about (because of the lovely little pandemic going on), then work to educate yourself on what life is like for different people.
Through that growth, perspective, and empathy, my guess is that who you vote for and what you vote for will change. Maybe you’ll feel strongly enough compelled to write in to your currently elected officials. Maybe it will prompt you to vote for the first time. Maybe how you interact with people will change. You will realize some of the hurtful language that you have said, unknowingly, for a lifetime, and what you say will change, too.
Think this is all a little bit much? Think people are taking things too far? Ready about the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery for a little perspective.
Remember we are all people. None of us want to live in fear. Treat others how you would want to be treated. Encourage others to do the same and work to put people in power that will do the same.
I know we’re adults – we don’t have to sit in classrooms and are taught whatever the teacher decides and we don’t have to sit down and have intelligent discussions. In case you are looking for a bit of additional reading here is a great article by Time featuring a ton of corresponding articles. While it has a lot of good and relevant information, it also lists a number of organizations you can either donate to or learn from in support of Black Lives Matter, police reform, and racial equality.