Following are the five questions that the video explored, along with responses from tourism executives:
How is it different growing up Black in America?
“You must be 10 times better than white people in school, sports, or as a professional, to receive the same equal treatment.” — Cleo Battle, CTA, Chief Operating Office, Louisville Tourism
Have you experienced racism as a Black professional in the tourism Industry?
“He comes over to me — I’m new to town as a senior leader of tourism — and he says to me: ‘Al, if you ever think about hiring this lady, I have friends that have white hoods. I just wanted you to know that.’ And he just walked away.” — Al Hutchinson
How has the murder of George Floyd affected you?
“It hurt me to the core when George Floyd was murdered, and not just because it was in my city, but because it [has] happened over and over again.” — Melvin Tennant
“And then we see the tragic happening of George Floyd lying in the street — in addition to Ahmaud Arbery, in addition to Breonna Taylor. It just began to be a little too much.” — James Jessie, chief sales officer, Travel Portland
How have recent events changed how you work with others in our industry?
“What’s happening in America today has allowed me to have open and honest conversations with my white friends and colleagues.” — Charles H. Jeffers, II
What would you tell non-Black tourism professionals who want to support the inclusion of Black people?
“Black people are tired, and we’re at the brink. And we just need to be able to express ourselves and we want people that are non-Black to just listen, and have that understanding… . We’ve become comfort- able with racism. We have to be uncomfortable with it. We have to be able to ask the difficult questions.” — Dan Williams, Vice President, Convention Sales and Services, Visit Columbus
“Listen with your ears, but also listen with your mind and with your heart — because until we have changed minds and changed hearts, this will just be a moment and not a movement… . These conversations are important if there is ever going to be true racial reconciliation.” — Charles H. Jeffers, II
“When you’re at work, when you’re in the board room, when you’re in the committee room, look around those rooms for Black people in those crowds and ask what their perspectives are. If you look around and don’t see any Black people, that’s when you can become our advocate.” — James Jessie
Barbara Palmer is deputy editor at Convene.