While many of us were working at our event this weekend in Bryce Canyon, we were paying attention to what was happening in Minnesota and around the country. Since we have been back in the office, we have been working on some kind of a statement in hopes of adequately articulating how we feel right now but no matter what words we use or how we arrange them, we keep coming up short.
Our hearts are broken for the hate and racism still plaguing our country. Our hearts are broken over the cruel and unnecessary deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tamir Rice, Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Philando Castile, and countless others we haven’t even heard about who were victims of senseless violence and an indefensible abuse of power.
We are extremely unhappy about the state of our country, we are mortified at the overt police brutality we keep seeing, and frankly, we are disappointed in ourselves for not doing or saying something sooner.
To be blunt, we are mostly a bunch of white people living in mostly rural communities and we are not faced with the oppression and discrimination many of our brothers and sisters face every single day. What in the world could we possibly say to add to the conversation already taking place?
I am ashamed to admit that, to date, we have not tried very hard to build a company with more diversity. We are a pretty accepting bunch. We don’t actively try to harm or discriminate against those different from us, but we haven’t done anything to empower anyone either. We haven’t viewed ourselves as part of the problem, but if we aren’t actively trying to be part of the solution can we really consider ourselves allies? After some brief reflection, the answer is obviously no.
While we have always been and will always be a company that welcomes and supports people from any background, the time for simply making statements has passed. It’s time to do something. We have been trying to figure out what we can contribute that might be practically useful. Here is what we have so far:
- We promise to speak out in support of those who are oppressed and whose voices are not being heard. You will hear us talking more about some uncomfortable topics.
- We promise to be more intentional about showing more diversity in our marketing materials (website, emails, Instagram posts, etc.).
- We will commit to going out of our way to make sure that opportunities to work with Vacation Races (as employees, sponsor partners, volunteers, operations crew, etc.) are more available to minority communities.
- We promise to reach out to diverse members of the outdoor and running communities when preparing customer interviews, podcast episodes, etc.
- Going forward, as we get back on our feet from the pandemic, we will be donating at least $25,000 annually to causes that help empower the oppressed. We will make sure we talk about the contribution and our progress as a company. If you have the means to do so, we invite you to make contributions as well. We found this article useful in selecting places for donations.
This is the beginning for us. We expect this list to grow, publicly or otherwise. We will not shy away from talking more about our successes and failures to be more inclusive. This is now part of who we are.
If anyone who reads this feels like they can help us live up to our commitments, we welcome the assistance. We can do better and we will. We hope that you will join us.
Salem Stanley & The Vacation Races Team