MEET ISREBA WHEELER AIKEN
Reba shares, “I’m so tired. I’m tired of having to repeat the same thing over and over only to have it ignored. I feel like I’m hitting my head on a brick wall. I’m tired of fighting. I’m tired of being classified as NHI (No Human Involved). I’m tired of not being able to breathe. Walking the streets, I feel it… you hate me and you don’t even know me.
“When I travel with VACAYA, I can leave those frustrations behind and experience a bit of utopia. One thing I love about the trips is that everybody says ‘hi’ as they pass each other, whether they know each other or not. Nobody ever asked us to do that. It just happens. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could bring that simple act of kindness into our everyday lives… making eye contact, smiling, and saying hello to each other? So today, I challenge you to start doing this in your hometowns to let each other know ‘I see you,’ ‘I respect you,’ ‘I value you.’ What we’re all facing right now is so immense. We have to find a way to make it a bit more manageable. With this small act, together we have the power to change the world… one ‘hi’ at a time.”
In honor of Reba and Peaches, VACAYA has made a donation in their name to Doing4Others. We encourage you to join us in supporting this amazing organization. Doing4Others’ mission is to foster community engagement and build leadership, empathy, and career readiness for the next generation of volunteers.
To support Doing4Others, visit https://www.doing4others.org.
MEET LAURENCE PINCKNEY
Laurence shared his thoughts on all that’s going on today, “It’s never ending. Over and over and over again. This time feels different, though. But to make sure it is, we first need EVERYBODY to recognize there’s a problem. We can’t do this alone. Each of us has to play a part.
“In the travel business, representation matters. If we don’t see our own faces in the advertisements, on the websites, we often assume we’re not welcome. For far too long we’ve been under represented or not represented at all. What attracted Zenbiz Travel to VACAYA right from the start was that I noticed VACAYA had marketing that included our faces. That was rare in LGBT travel marketing. After talking to The Vacayans it became immediately apparent that VACAYA was looking to do something different. They support us, so we support them. We are proud to bring that message to our clients and others in support of VACAYA. We will continue to encourage VACAYA to push themselves even further. Inclusive imagery is a great first step, but what happens beyond that? Those are the questions we now have to answer… together.
“The Vacayans asked me how I’d challenge those looking to be part of the solution. So I offer this challenge to everyone… read or view Black media for 40 minutes. I recommend The Root (www.theroot.com), Black News Channel (https://blacknewschannel.com/about/), or AM Joy (on MSNBC). I also recommend the award-winning film BURDEN, by Nathan Hale Williams. 40 minutes can not only change your perspective, but that shift in the way you see things has the power to change the world.”
In honor of Laurence, VACAYA had mande a donation in his name to the National Black Justice Coalition. NBJC is a civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and same gender loving (LGBTQ/SGL) people, including people living with HIV/AIDS. NBJC’s mission is to end racism, homophobia, and LGBTQ/SGL bias and stigma.
To join us in supporting the National Black Justice Coalition, visit http://www.nbjc.org/donate/.
And to support Laurence and his team at Zenbiz Travel, visit https://www.zenbiztravel.com.
MEET COREY CRAIG
When asked about his take on all that’s going on right now, Corey shared, “In simplest terms, It’s like someone’s been farting in the elevator EVERY DAY forever and everyone is FINALLY calling them out on it. However, my faith in humanity has been restored seeing so many people of different races and ethnicities marching for what is right. The next normal is really about cleaning house – letting go of the lethargy and inaction that’s brought us to this place. I’m not looking for an apology from anyone, but I AM asking for recognition there’s a problem. To echo the profound words of Kimberly Jones, know that we’re looking for equality, not revenge.”
If you haven’t seen Kimberly’s video, it’s a must watch (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sb9_qGOa9Go).
“VACAYA asked me how I’d challenge people looking to be part of the solution and my answer is three-fold. First, look at this opportunity as the biggest situational awareness seminar of all time. Dig into your own personal biases and try to figure out when they started and where you learned them. Ask yourself… have those biases made me a better person and protected me? I’m guessing they have not. Once you recognize the origins of those biases, it’s a lot easier to change them. And second… you have to understand Black history better. Three pages in a textbook isn’t enough. You have to dig deeper. Having a deeper understanding is critical in affecting change. And finally, if you see a wrong – and I’m talking little wrongs and capital W Wrongs – don’t be silent. Say something. Do something. We’ve got to stick up for each other and that’s especially true within the LGBT+ community.
“Right from the start, VACAYA embraced a mindset of full inclusion. Too many times, events get labeled based on the marketing. We have allowed the desires of a few to keep an otherwise colorful dance floor monolithic. If a poster shows too many people of color (or even one person in some cases), it is too often written off as an ethnic gay event. What lured me to work with VACAYA was the open appeal and inclusion within their marketing and I’m so thankful for that. Ask yourself, ‘do I only feel comfortable around Black people on a cruise or at a resort if they’re behind the bar, in a DJ booth, or in some sort of service role?’ If that’s true, then VACAYA is not for you. If you have a problem with diversity in general, then VACAYA is not for you. VACAYA says they’re ‘built for everybody,’ but not everybody is built for VACAYA. And that’s ok. There are lots of other options out there if you feel you can only be around others who are just like you. But if you truly believe we’re all equal, then I hope I get the chance to meet you and share a moment with you on our next trip together.”
In honor of Corey, VACAYA has made a donation to the Black Trans Travel Fund. Corey continues, “It’s heartbreaking to know that the Black trans community is still being murdered nationwide and no one speaks up for them or gives their stories press. The black trans community started our LGBT+ equality movement. The least we can do is help them move throughout the world without harassment and violence.”
We encourage you to join us in support. To learn more or to contribute, visit https://www.blacktranstravelfund.com/.