Let me start by saying we have talked about racial injustice in America together as a couple or with our friends regularly since as long as I can remember… well, truth be told, I don’t know when these conversations started because racism isn’t new. White supremacists are coming out in droves proclaiming that we must “Make America Great Again” but this has us perplexed. Again? When was the first time? I’m not entirely sure which “great” era they are referring to with this slogan. Was America great in 2012 when seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot simply for being in a neighborhood where his relatives lived? Oh, you meant further back than that. Was America great in 1955 when fourteen-year-old Emmett Till was lynched because he made a white woman “uncomfortable” in a grocery store? No? Oh, you mean a “simpler time.” Okay. Do you mean when black people were treated as property by law and could be bought and sold? No, of course not. Well then I’m not sure which time period you’re referring to either. The fact of the matter is that America has always been racist, but now it’s just more blatantly visible than ever due to smartphones social media.
There are a lot of great things about America, that part is true. We are a diverse population consisting of many beautiful cultures that should be celebrated but instead they’re regularly criticized. We have some of the best educational institutions in the world with exceptional educators, yet a quick web search will tell you that high school graduation rates for black teens are often much lower than those of their white classmates, but that’s not due to a lack of trying. We have the best healthcare in the world, but often the people who need it most can’t afford it. The country is broken and with each passing year, it gets worse. Systemic racism, gun violence, and poverty are rapidly deteriorating America each and every day. We as a country are failing ourselves, but we are especially failing black people. It’s gotten to the point where we can’t keep track of how many black citizens have been innocently murdered, even in just the last few months alone. Are you seeing it yet, America?
This isn’t about politics; this is about people. Black people are fighting to be heard and nobody’s listening. When businesses remained closed due to Coronavirus, white people protested over hair salons being closed, claiming that their freedoms had been stripped. Yet when protesting erupted over the unnecessary murder of a man named George Floyd, it was seen as disrespectful. Now you may think these displays are desrespectful since they aren’t “peaceful,” but don’t kid yourself because we all know these peaceful protests have been just as heavily criticized as the ones we are seeing today. If you find yourself more outraged over the destruction of a Target than a man’s life, you need to re-evaluate the kind of person you are. Every time a life is lost due to police brutality and systemic racism, we as white people post about it on social media and make comments like “So sad” – but we have to do more. We have to listen to black people in our communities. We have to become allies. We have to engage in difficult conversations with people of all races to better understand our ignorance and our privilege. We have to be cognizant of our own racial biases. We have to call out racism when we see it no matter how uncomfortable it may get. But let’s be clear about one thing, white people. This isn’t about you.It’s great that you want to be better, but you have to stop asking black people how to do it for you. Black people are burdened enough with the weight of systemic racism on their shoulders. The last thing someone wants to do is a coddle a white person who “feels bad.” As a white person, being a part of the #BlackLivesMatter movement isn’t about making white people feel better about themselves, it’s about becoming aware of our white privilege, educating ourselves, and using our voices to stand up to racism.
Take a moment to think about what you’re going to do next. We can’t change the world without a plan. If you’re a white person reading this article, you’re probably asking yourself several questions. Where do I start? How can I help? Reach out to your black friends. Don’t ask them for advice, check on them genuinely and sincerely, directly from your heart. Your black friends want to know that you have their backs. If you have black friends and don’t reach out to them during a time like this, you’re not the ally that you think you are. Reflect on your own life. Looking back, the two of us can pinpoint moments in our lives where racist attitudes and behaviors around us shaped our views. At some point along the way, each of us recognized that we could do better. Today, we’re still growing, identifying issues, and focusing on how to improve not only ourselves but the world around us. Look back on those moments in your own life. Educate yourself and create change. We can’t keep letting innocent people die.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
DONATE. EDUCATE. PARTICIPATE.
Ways to Help from Black Lives Matter
SUPPORT BLACK-OWNED BUSINESSES
Giving Black in Philadelphia (Organizations to Support)
Find & Support Black-Owned Businesses
White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son
by Tim Wise
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism
by Robin DiAngelo and Michael Eric Dyson
The New Jim Crow
by Michelle Alexander
NPR: How Can White People Be Better Allies To People Of Color?
VICE: 100 Ways White People Can Make Life Less Frustrating For People Of Color
MEDIUM: 75 Things White People Can Do For Racial
ABOUT TWO GUYS ON A PLANE
Two Guys On A Plane is a travel and lifestyle blog. We are both active flight attendants residing in Philadelphia and we love sharing our passion for travel and aviation. With everything going on in America, we decided we needed to take a break from our usual aviation-themed content and use our voices to speak on injustice in our society. Racism is a controversial discussion topic and yet one we feel has a clear right and wrong. Black lives matter. Period.
Thanks for reading and please feel free to comment. We’d love to hear from you!
Rich & Andrew