When we’re seeing injustice after injustice happen on the news, there comes a time when a beautiful Instagram illustration share on your story just doesn’t become enough. Don’t get me wrong, the stunning illustrations and posts are wonderful in their own right. They have been and are bringing about healing, change and progress for many.
But for us non-Black and white folks, we need to learn for ourselves, that our activism doesn’t begin and end online. Whether we’ve been educating ourselves, attending protests, donating, sending emails to our local councils or MPs, (brilliant work so far), there’s still more to do. And it’s not as simple as checking these things off on your to-do lists. I hate to break it to you but you’re never going to graduate with a 1st class in anti-racism. It’s a lifelong degree that, yeah, we wish we didn’t have to sign up for because this is 2020 but we must try to be better. And that includes calling out good gal-pal, travel too.
My love for Shut Up and Go is enticed on the daily by the authentic diversity of our writers and readers. When growing up, my friends had always suggested that I should become a travel blogger/writer and I never thought that could be me. The travel bloggers I’d heard of were always white, blonde and in many ways, a little bit basic. No shade, I just wasn’t interested in the blog posts I’d be reading of theirs either, where they might be spending their days in London at expensive rooftop bars and shopping (both fab things to do FYI). But where were the messy dates, the real (kinda gross) markets, the 2-pound beers, the GAY clubs, the filthy hostels, the *e v e r y t h i n g*?
Luckily SUAG has been that b*tch, still that b*tch and will forever be that b*tch for genuine travel stories and diaries even if it doesn’t always look aesthetic.
When our countries are covid-free and life goes to a new normal, we may forget about the protests, the riots and the race problem in the USA and around the world. Your Instagram feed may be replaced with travel pics, coffees and friends no more at a 2-meter distance. But anti-racism, as I’m sure you lovely readers will know this well, isn’t a trend. It’s in every element of your home life, your travel life, your work life and this is before and after Black Lives Matter stops ‘trending’ on Twitter.
From your small-town life in the country you’ve lived in forever to the big cosmopolitan cities or villages you’ll visit when exploring the world, the fight for justice doesn’t end, even if you’re sipping on a sweet sweet mojito. There will still be ways to show up and be an ally, home and abroad.
An Ally is someone who commits to making an effort to acknowledge their privilege and work in solitary to help oppressed groups.
I’m talking about race here because obviously, we haven’t been speaking about it enough but being an ally can be for any marginalized group and those groups need our love. It’s not just about being an ally for a group close to you. When we say Black Lives Matter, we fudging mean Black women, trans, gay, lesbian, queer and every single life matter.
And you best believe I’m not going to shut up and go until Jk Rowling, our favourite icon turned disgrace is chanting that with us too.
Here are my simple, yet effective ways to put your allyship on airplane mode and fly high with it by your side (when travel restrictions lift off too):
- Be aware, also acknowledge your own privilege; Although I’ve been talking for a long time about race, that doesn’t mean I don’t myself benefit from white privilege. I’m half white and also have experienced racism – it’s possible! You best believe some people look at my Asian eyes funny when I’m not wearing a mask on my walk these days. But that doesn’t mean I’ll ever stay silent about how unfair it is that Black people are scared of being stopped by the police when they have done nothing wrong.
It’s all about being aware. Reading up on injustices is disheartening at first, but can be inspiring to see the change that we can bring about if we all join as allies and kick racisms PHAT a$$, together.
2. Actively try to consume more POC media, when traveling and always! – It’s lowkey wild that we don’t already do this more you know. I’m a culprit too! Stop watching Girls and Friends on repeat and give some Black and Brown writers and creators space on your bookshelves or Netflix lists. Though It’s essential to be learning from documentaries about struggles don’t ONLY consume pain. There’s so much joy to see!
Don’t download shows with only one person of colour in it to binge on your long-haul flight, watch shows with POC’s as the LEADS!
3. Look for out POC run businesses and tour guides – The same goes for travelling, do we really need to spend our hard-earned $$$ on another classic chain restaurant owned by someone we’d rather not be involved with? Instead, we could really support local, family-run businesses and enjoy our time waaaaay more. Don’t stick to what you know, even if you can’t speak the language, explore that culture you’ve been dreaming of during the pandemic!
4. Call out, kindly – whether you’re talking to your friend or your Airbnb host and they say something.. umm lowkey racist, don’t shout their heads off and call them every name under the sun. I mean, this depends, if they are being trash, sometimes it’s called for. But killing them with kindness and the straight-up facts-upon-facts might actually cause them to not be defensive and listen.
When I was teaching in Barça, my school was not very diverse to say the very least. It’s only just occurred to me that I was the only POC teacher there?
Sometimes I’d have to educate the kids on their accidentally stereotypical views, I’d have to be calm and just tell them straight ‘No, that’s not okay, here’s why…’ Can you imagine when Corona hit Spain? I was really not making enough money…
Now if I wanna call anyone out, I just pretend they are an 8-year-old Spanish kid who can’t understand my Northern English accent. It’s been working so far!
5. Embed everything we’ve learnt in the past few weeks into your daily life, not because you feel like you have to, but because you want to strive for a better world! No one’s free till we’re all free, babes! If you’re abroad and there’s a protest going on, get involved (if you believe in the cause, duh). If you have a spare bit of change and not able to donate your time, send some money to a bail fund or a charity you love. Spend time learning, chatting, making mistakes even and learning more.
And seriously, consume more POC work. Starting with this article, thanks!