“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?

The answer is not enough, but in the interim, the least we can do is stop standing by while black people are  murdered in the streets for living their lives.

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.

You can also vote to remove people from office who spread hatred, lies, bigotry and violence. It’s free, and isn’t utilized nearly enough by the people.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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21 Comments

  1. Thank you.

    – Jamal (and yes, I’m Black)

    p.s. If your subscribers/readers don’t feel any of the examples of ‘privilege’ apply to them, feel free to add being in the ‘points and miles’ hobby and having a credit card as privilege to the list above. Don’t believe me? Count the black wo(men) at FTU (on the panel or in the crowd). Cheers!

  2. Thank you so very much for having the courage to speak and use your platform. Silence is truly a form of complicity. Black Lives Matter.

  3. Once and for all the myth of the competent white man is blown to pieces. White privilege is what donald trump looks like., an incompetent fool who got away with breaking laws, is still a multimillionaire and bedded a bunch of beauties too eager to spread their legs for loser with money.

    Both parties need to get rid of the geriartic idiots in their rank and file and field candidates in their 40s and 50s. These old white fucks can’t die off soon enough.

  4. First off. This was beautifully written and greatly appreciated.

    You can go back over DECADES worth of surveys asking African American people if they felt racism was still present in society post civil rights movement and every decade they would say yes and every time they would ask who’re people they would systematically say no it’s been solved.

    It’s people like yourself who are breaking this cycle and recognizing your privilege and I can’t thank you enough.

    As someone dark skin with a white girlfriend who feels a lot the way you do, she asks me: “what should white people people do to help? We do one thing and get made fun of, we do another and it’s not enough we get told, I want to help black people and show my support but how?”

    Now your going to see a lot of ridiculous things being shown to you. White people asking for forgiveness from black people any of that is bull shit. This is not the way.

    Do you want to know how you can support us?

    1. Exactly what your doing. Recognizing your privilege and educating others is absolutely the most important step you can take. I go back to my statement about surveys to make the point that until a white person is able to recognize and then TELL OTHER WHITE PEOPLE that this is real and not imagined we won’t see change because it’s been shown that (a group of you) won’t believe us.

    2. Record any CLEAR instance of racism on video or audio and make it public in some form. When racists are shamed upon they’ll stop doing it openly. Do you see anyone raising their hands letting you know their pedophiles and rapists? No because we frown upon that behavior and it comes at a price… probably getting your ass kicked in public or at least shamed wherever you go.

    When it comes to family I understand the desire not to do this but understand they part they play in continuing the cycle. Does your family member own a business. Do they employ people they look down on knowing they’ll never let them get ahead. Do you remember Donald Sterling? The owner of an NBA franchise who was clearly racist behind closed doors and likely making adverse decisions about players lively hoods with out them knowing he’s racist.

    3. Let any of your brown/black friends, business partners, etc know who is racist. Not all racist are likely to change, that’s a fact but we can at least OUT who they are so we don’t have to to business with them or go in knowing we’re at a disadvantage from the start.

    4. This is the hardest one but if your really about solving racism you need to shun ALL people who participate. Some friends, family, Profitable business Partners. You need to show them you understand they may not change their beliefs but your willing to let them go.

    This world was created to benefit white men and everyone else is just living in it. When this cycle changes we all will be free.

  5. GREAT words and well done for using your platform and position to raise awareness.
    As a Brit I simply don’t understand how / why the US public allow the kind of murderous racism we have witnessed to persist in the public services? Things are FAR from perfect on this side of the pond but an officer murdering someone whether racially motivated or not would lose their job and more importantly be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

  6. Fantastically written and truly heartfelt. I’m an Asian in the US, and although a minority, cannot even fathom what many of my African American friends endure. One of my neighbors is the CTO of a very large public agency and he worries daily for the safety of his two sons, both summa cum laude college graduates, but dull enduring racism. And they’re more privileged than most.

    One thing i have to point out however. We can be the vehicle for change. The right wooing in this country had proven that.

    African Americans statistically vote in much smaller numbers than other ethnicities. If you’re African American, sympathetic to BLM, or just empathetic to the constant struggle, YOU MUST VOTE. And secondly, you must get your community to vote.

    Even then it’ll be gradual. But change will happen. We must begun that process in November. The alternative means that not just the President, not just Congress, but the Supreme Court would be lost for another generation.

    Please vote.

  7. Thank you Gil for using your platform and speaking out. This is helpful and much appreciated. We need more people just like you to have these difficult conversations.

  8. Thank you for using your platform to point out systemic injustice and to call for an end to it.

  9. I don’t agree with all this BLM stuff. If you disagree with racism, as I do, please stop acting in a racist way. The BLM movement is utterly racist. We are all human beings and, as such, brothers and sisters. Dividing us and treating us differently depending on the colour of our skin is not an answer to racism, it is racism at its purest.

  10. All Lives matter Plain and simple. Racism is not owned by any one race. My wife is Asian and had been discriminated against many times. I am Spanish American and can say the same. We each must take personal responsibility in what we say and do and how we treat others. The mainstream media does a great disservice in how they address these issues. They only add fuel to the fire with their coverage and are only doing so for increased Ratings!

  11. real talk bruv! – only one I’ve seen in the travel blog scene make a stand. This isn’t a time to be on the sidelines and the silence from others speaks just as loud.

  12. Well said Javier!! Racism is not owned by Black people. People of all races have faced racism at different times in history.

  13. I learned 30 years ago through a black friend the difference in the way he was treated from me. It is really sad. But he never played the victim card. It is important to acknowledge the mistreatment of any minority in any nation. However, the rioting is not helping the cause for awareness. It is an election year and the media is using this tragedy in Minneapolis for their political agenda. You really think these east and west coast elites care about these people? They are and have been a means to an end since LBJ and his great society. Look at the facts and plight of black families since the mid sixties. Virtue signaling might be the woke thing to do…but it doesn’t help anyone when the victim mentality is encouraged. I owe no one an apology for being white.

  14. Much has been said and written these past days about the need for equality. Equality is a two-way street. I long for the day when the black community fights for the equality involved in ensuring that its 13% of the population only commits 13% of the murders and 13% of the robberies, instead of the 53% or murdered and 60% of robberies as in 2018.

    The last 50 years has seen trillions of dollars’ worth of Medicaid, food stamps, welfare, public housing, rent subsidies and federal aid to public schools poured into poor minority neighborhoods but too little in those neighborhoods has changed. Why not?

    There are hundreds of thousands of police officers in the USA. Some of them are statistically likely to be bad or very bad apples. In the same way as many reading this will be revolted by the murder and robbery percentages quoted, it is equally as revolting that the death of one man has provided the springboard for rampant violent riots and theft of others property, politely called looting. This is no more or less civilized behavior than one individual murdering another as happened to Mr. Floyd. The death of any human being, by murder, though COVID-19, a car accident caused by a drunk, or just plain old age is a tragedy for the family concerned. But then as one elderly black lady said, standing in front of her looted and destroyed shop, Black Lives Matter, so why have they done this to me? I am black, why doesn’t my life matter?

  15. Good and thought-provoking article……thank you!
    Every life matters!!………..
    The narrative of discriminating against the colour of skin, different facial or body features, religion, sex, lifestyle choices etc and harming no-one in the process, shouldnt divide humanity! No sector of society including social media, leaders, transgressors, activists etc should ever be allowed to skew the facts or abuse their position of power in all forms whether heading country, tribe, city, town, business, government, family heads and health, welfare, education or wealth……… ‘Wellbeing for all’ should be a mantra that becomes a reality and everyone aspires to!……Instead, inhumane actions are justified as the norm and actions of ‘humanity’ will eventually result in destruction for all. Attitudes of those that perpetuate and get away with encouraging, inciting and igniting the damaging flames of power, disregard and entitlement need to be stemmed worldwide
    The brutality of varying degrees and with disregard is in abundance————and often a right is viewed and accepted in a multitude of various cultures, countries, societies, workplace and families…….and so continues without consequence!

  16. Good and thought-provoking article……thank you!
    Every life matters!!………..
    The narrative of discriminating against the colour of skin, different facial or body features, religion, sex, lifestyle choices without harming anyone in the process, shouldnt divide humanity! No sector of society including social media, leaders, transgressors, activists etc should ever be allowed to skew the facts or abuse their position of power in any form —whether heading country, tribe, city, town, business, government, family and health, welfare, education or having accumulated wealth……… ‘Wellbeing for all’ should be a mantra that becomes a reality and everyone aspires to!……Instead, inhumane actions are justified as the norm and these actions of ‘humanity’ will eventually result in destruction for all. Attitudes of those that perpetuate and get away with encouraging, inciting and igniting the damaging flames of power, disregard and entitlement need to be stemmed worldwide
    The brutality of varying degrees and with disregard is in abundance————and often a right is viewed and accepted in a multitude of cultures, countries, societies, workplace and families…….and so continues without consequence!

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