Statement on Social and Racial Justice in Solidarity with Black Lives Matter

At Operation Groundswell, we yearn for a more just and equitable world. On a normal day, you can find us taking people out of their comfort zones to learn from a global community of change-makers around the world. On a normal day, we strive to confront our own privileges, learn empathy, unlearn our biases and engage across borders, race, language, and culture. 

These are not normal days. In a moment where we are all called to do better and take action towards change, OG stands firmly with the Black Lives Matter movement and those who are actively challenging racism, inequality and injustice. We are outraged by the murders and unjust deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and Regis Korchinski-Paquet amongst countless others. They are just a few more people whose deaths have been horrific displays of the racist violence that has been hiding in plain sight for centuries. The systemic racism that fails Black, Indigenous, non-Black people of colour is also directly related to how the COVID-19 outbreak has disproportionately devastated those communities in North America and marginalized people around the world. 

So, there isn’t anything that we can add to this conversation that hasn’t already been said by the activists and people who are and have been working towards change. To be honest, we resent even having to make this statement because we have realized that there is so much more tangible work we need to be doing right now. In the never ending process of aspiring to solidarity, we commit to:

  • Use our platform to amplify and feature more Black, Indigenous and non-Black people of colour whose voices are too often ignored or silenced.
  • Build and maintain a toolkit of resources for ethical travellers, social justice educators and aspiring activists.
  • Better highlight spaces, both at home and abroad, where backpacktivists can engage with communities and cultures outside their own.

We are going to keep having difficult conversations. Asking tough questions. We’ll keep supporting our community-based partners in their fight for justice around the world, but we are committed to trying way harder to practice allyship in the places we call home.

If you have been doing this work and taking action against inequality: thank you. Like you, we know that we are always evolving and that there is always more we can do. If you are just getting started: we can’t wait to learn and unlearn with you. It’s not going to be easy or comfortable, but that’s when we know that it’s working. 

“The truth is, no one of us can be free until everybody is free.”
-Maya Angelou

With hope and fervor,
The OG Team

Things You Can do To Practice Allyship Today, Tomorrow, Next Week, and Always

  • Join or start a book club. With all of the great book recommendations out there, it can be paralyzing to know where to start. Grab a couple of friends or join a larger group and pick a title. It’s an awesome way to make yourself accountable and be a part of the important discussions that come out of it, too. Here’s a good start on an anti-racist reading list.
  • Attend a virtual watch party. If words aren’t your thing, find a group that’s watching something instead. An OG all-time favourite is Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche’s TED Talk, The Danger of a Single Story to get you started. There’s also When They See Us and 13th related to systemic anti-Black racism specifically. But these are just a start.
  • Listen, amplify and share. Look for marginalized or oppressed voices and stories and listen to them. Amplify them. Try podcasts like Code Switch, which is hosted by journalists of colour and tackles the subject of race head-on. Teaching While White focuses on racial literacy in the context of education. 
  • Donate your time or money. Consider making your donation monthly if you can. Here are some organizations you can donate to in support of the Black Lives Matter protests in the US, and here are some Canadian anti-racism orgs to check out too.