The Black Lives Matter Movement started in 2013 as a response to the murder of Trayvon Martin. It is now a platform and organization tool for other groups, organizations, and individuals to amplify anti-Black racism across the country.
The recent murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 has sparked outrage around the country. During his arrest, a white police officer kept his knee on the side of Floyd's neck for eight minutes while Floyd was handcuffed and lying face down. As the video circulated, it didn’t take long for the movement to start in other cities around the world. Police brutality, racism, and privilege are just a few key points this movement is highlighting. These are not only issues that America faces, but other countries around the world as well.
What is this movement trying to do?
First, this movement is to spread awareness about how racism is still so prevalent. Second, it is asking us to reevaluate our standing in society and recognizing our own privileges. Third, it is a call for police accountability. Lastly, it calls on everyone to help those who are faced with racism.
What does defunding the police mean?
To understand what is happening, one should think about how much money is invested in the police departments. The US spends billions of dollars a year on policing and incarceration. Instead of using that money all for policing, some are asking to relocate those funds to support people and services in marginalized communities. Some services include social services for mental health, domestic violence and homelessness, among others - police often being first responders to all of these. The idea is that if they relocate that money towards the community for resources there will be a new model of public safety. It does not mean the U.S. will be police-free but rather distributing the weight of their job.
Well, what's wrong with saying “All Lives Matter”?
Under the ‘umbrella’ of “All Lives Matter” there is the “Black Lives Matter” movement. Yes, while it is true that all lives matter, it doesn’t seem so apparent because there is still a humanitarian crisis for the African Americans in the United States. People are being murdered (some even on camera) and the murders are not being held accountable. This is unacceptable and largely affecting the Black Community. Until now they have not been heard - they have been silenced. While history repeats itself once again, it would be ignorant to ignore their call for help and silence their movement.
Riots aren’t helping, why are they destroying the cities?
Riots are small parts of the largely peaceful protests. However, riots are more newsworthy and draw your attention away from the main topic.
However, rioting is also an understandable reaction from years of trauma. If you don’t understand the anger of the oppressed, then you have been privileged enough to not experience it.
Change. This movement is looking for us to change our ways. It is no longer enough to ‘not be racist’ but we must be proactively anti-racist. There is also a campaign to push all states to adopt all eight new policies focusing on how police react and handle situations called 8CantWait. There are hundreds of Black-Owned businesses to support, well organized campaigns and charities to support, and lots of lessons to be taught. Education is the key to change - schools changing their curriculum to incorporate African American History, and individuals educating themselves, friends and family are steps towards change. You can also visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C. or other sites that tell their stories. This is how we will see change, by continuing to learn and grow.
As travelers, we are fortunate to see what the world has to offer, but what we might not see are the underlying issues a country faces. While it is a privilege to be able to travel - and travel safely - we should make the most of it by not only supporting the local economy but supporting Black-Owned Businesses. The travel community has the ability to positively influence businesses. We have the ability to make a difference and be part of the solution!