“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”
Like it or not, if you’re reading this and are not a person of color, you’ve likely experienced an element of privilege in your world, and most likely without even knowing it. That nice jog through the neighborhood without a worry on your mind that you’ll be shot? Yeah, sadly, not fearing for your life is a form of privilege. Going to school in the suburbs that arent under funded and over crowded? Privilege. Believing police are there to protect society, not murder your neighbors? Privilege.
Black Lives Matter and right now, today, no other argument or issue is worth hearing. If you disagree, take that b*llsh*t somewhere else, because I’m not hearing it. Not today. Hundreds of years, and still we are here, with people being murdered not just by racist and unlawful citizens, but by law enforcement itself. In case you hadn’t heard, George Floyd’s death has officially been ruled a homicide.
Travel is about inclusion and cultural understanding, and I just can’t stand by in a time where neither of those things are happening in the United States of America.
Knowing that so many things I do daily, like jogging through my neighborhood; or walking through a city to have dinner without fear of harassment from the police are not normal for others, is just the very beginning of creating any modicum of progress.
I can’t solve it alone, you can’t solve it alone but we can all choose to use our platforms and voices no matter how big or small to stand up for our fellow man and refuse to allow hatred and discrimination to become normalized.
I say this, because I think people watching along from the outside fail to realize how many things in their life which felt as natural as putting on socks, only felt that way because of their background.
I am not black, but I have benefited from black culture in more ways than I can ever recount, and its impact can’t be underestimated globally. I’ve taken from the shoe culture, the sports culture, the comedy, the music and the togetherness of black churches. It’s perhaps why this vital movement crossed oceans today, with supporters protesting in London that it’s time for change, now.
I ask myself, what have I ever given back to black people who have so positively impacted my life, and helped so much to create the real cultural love story of America?
People find it so easy to throw stones about what should or should not be happening right now, but very few of those people understand that progress is rarely easy. It’s safe to say just about every means of enacting change has been tried for hundreds of years, and when “leaders” normalize hate, it’s hard to be surprised that evil hatred spreads not only among the people, but the people who are supposed to protect them.
People must stand up to stop it forever, for good.
Making matters worse, not only are there unspeakable racial divides, but in a time of recession, US billionaires made an additional $434 billion during the pandemic, while millions lost jobs, further creating an inequality which keeps people down. The world didn’t need any more matches, but it got a box of them with unemployment near all time lows, mostly for hard working people in inner cities, while mostly white billionaires actually “looted” the world.
Why are people mad? We mankind are all equal, but too many people act like we aren’t.
Time and time again, the video tape says the same thing: black man or person of color going about their day, police brutality unfolding to the point of murder, or somewhere close. This must stop. Now. No matter how far or high a black person climbs in the world, it seems they’re always being taken down by prejudice.
As a tennis fan, I recall the horrifying video of James Blake, tennis superstar and global ambassador of all things great, not to mention a former Harvard guy, being slammed to the ground outside of his Manhattan hotel while waiting for official player transportation to take him to the US Open. You have to ask yourself, would a white man wearing the same white collar outfit outside of a midtown hotel have been treated the same way? Absolutely not.
I started off with the wonderful Martin Niemöller quote for a reason: you have a choice right now, and I hope you make the right one. If not, there might not be anyone there for you in your time of need.
You can stand on the sidelines and say “not me, not my fight” and watch the world move along, but the way things are going, the next time around it may be you that’s watched your loved one murdered in the street, with no one there to save you, or stand up for your tragedy.
That may sound like fantasy to some, but in the world we’re living in, it seems like there’s a different “enemy” every day, when in fact race, origin, color nor creed has anything to do with evil. Evil is those who use prejudice to justify murdering or oppressing innocent people.
We must stand up for black people. We are all equal, we are all mankind and making strides to end just one area of injustice would make a positive difference on the world forever. It’s why nothing else matters right now. Taking a moment to understand your privilege, like my privilege, is a small step, but a huge one in making sure you never walk around aloof.
Take this time to understand your impact on those around you, and making everything around you a better place for all. Most importantly, listen to people. What matters now is making change actually happen.
I want to use this platform for good, which is why I wrote this, but I don’t want to make a penny off the struggles or hardships of others. Accordingly, every penny I make this week will go to Project Zero. You can also support them and others in a variety of ways, including: The Bail Project, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Black Lives Matter, Show Racism the Red Card (UK), the I Run With Maud fund, and the George Floyd family fund.