Travel is a privilege, and the privileged should stand up to injustice

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Lean Into Aviation (3)When Runway Girl Network asked for my thoughts on the travesties of justice for Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice and so many others, it struck me that it might seem odd to read an aviation news outlet for a white middle-class Anglo-American person’s thoughts on the endemic state of racism.

What do I possibly have to add to the grief and outrage of these families? Of the fear and injustice my friends who look like Michael, Eric, Sandra, not like me, have to live with?

As outrageous as are these deaths — and the many others we do not name — how can we respond in ways that are relevant to our lives and work in helping people travel from A to B? Can’t we just leave it alone?

I can’t. I just can’t. I need to speak up. We need to speak up.

As people, as human beings, it is our duty to stand up and say “enough”, wherever we are. We may not be there when the next Eric Garner or Sandra Bland dies. And I know it feels like I as an individual cannot resolve every injustice in the world. It is very unlikely that I personally will be able to save that next life.

I can make the small part of the world I touch better, though. We all can. Do those of us who see more of the world, who touch more of the world, have an even greater responsibility to make it better?

It’s my firm belief that commercial aviation is an enormous benefit to creating a more understanding and accepting society. Accessible air travel enables us to broaden our horizons in ways that people only dreamed of in past generations. Travel broadens our experiences; meeting new people who are different from us broadens our minds. We see new places. We meet new people. We learn new things. To travel — especially as extensively as many of us travel, and particularly in the premium cabins that are my area of professional and personal interest — is a great privilege.

We all need to speak up against injustice. People like me need to speak up against injustice. I need to speak up against injustice. We need to support others where injustice is happening. Not in a white-knighting self-aggrandising way, but because time and again society has demonstrated that authority listens to people of my gender, ethnicity, class, and voice and marginalises women, minorities and others without my privilege.

We need to speak up.