Dear FTLO Community, Travel is all about encountering different realities that make us rethink our ingrained beliefs. We get to see the world from a different perspective and it can be a catalyst for deep self-reflection and personal growth. It is that aspect of travel that drew me to start FTLO in the first place and our mission is very much rooted in a desire to increase understanding and empathy in the world. Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been asked to collectively reflect on the horrific fact that in 2020, in one of the most advanced countries in the world, people are being killed by police because of their skin color. It is just one of many grim examples of how our society is failing Black Americans and the protests in the name of George Floyd have forced us to recognize that. Now, it’s time to do the work. We must reject the status quo, revise our ingrained beliefs, and evolve individually and as a country. At FTLO, we are committed to doing the work. We remain steadfastly in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and of dismantling the structural racism that enabled the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and many others. We believe our country is capable of becoming a place that includes, protects, and advances all people and we want to take an active role in that change. Our team has been having open conversations about how racism shows up in travel and we’ve spent time looking at ways to become better allies both at home and abroad. Below, you can read about some of the specific, measurable anti-racism actions we’re taking, with particular focus on supporting the Black community in ways that will have a lasting structural impact. As a small company, our reach right now is admittedly limited. We don’t have the resources to donate significantly and hiring is on hold until travel recovers from the pandemic. But we won’t be small forever and we promise to continue to grow with inclusivity and anti-racism at our core.
We will continue to elevate Black voices by sharing stories on our Instagram from Black travelers who can describe how different the experience can be.
Economic empowerment is crucial. We are putting together a curated list of Black-owned businesses in popular destinations that our community can refer to when deciding how to spend their tourism dollars.
We will immediately move all of our FTLO merchandise production over to a Black-owned print shop.
We will begin intentionally sourcing Black-owned businesses and vendors for our trips, particularly those in countries with a history of slavery and oppression.
We will be adding anti-racism training for our trip leaders.
We are proud to have a diverse team and this will continue to be a priority for us, including hiring more diverse trip leaders.
The team will have Election Day off to vote.
Lastly, this has always been our policy but is worth repeating here: words or acts of racism (or any discrimination of any kind) will not be tolerated in the slightest on any FTLO trip and will result in immediate dismissal from a trip.
We encourage our community to send us suggestions on ways to make improvements that we may not have thought of. We also invite all of you to join us in making lifestyle decisions that reflect an ongoing commitment to the values of justice, equality, and inclusion. The last thing I'd like to say is this:
I wasn’t going to send out this email. I was going to make these changes in the background, trying to push humanity forward in my own little way like I’ve been doing for the past four years. I believe actions speak louder than words and I also know there are much more relevant leaders deserving of your mental real estate. But the BIPOC members of my team encouraged me to say something. They reminded me that part of white privilege is that as a white person, my message might be more readily received by certain people. And if what I say here provokes even one conversation, one reevaluation, it was worth the effort. To any non-POC person reading this, if you’re wondering whether or not you should say something publicly, you should. It’s okay that you’re not an expert on race relations. Everyone plays a part in this and anyone can be a catalyst for reflection, growth, and change.
For the love, Tara Cappel
CEO & Founder
Do the work. Educate yourself.
Stand in unity with the black community and fight to end systemic racism.
"So You Want to Talk About Race" – Ijeoma Oluo
"How to be an Antiracist" – Ibram X. Kendi
"The New Jim Crow" – Michelle Alexander
When They See Us (Netflix)
The Hate U Give (Amazon)