How our community can really make a difference

6th June, 2020

Since writing the article below on my public support of the Black Lives Matter movement I’ve received a lot of feedback.

Some of you sent stories of discrimination or abuse you’ve received because of your background. Others agreed that white privilege and racial bias does exist in industries like aviation and that we should speak out when we see it. And some, albeit only a few, disagreed and suggested that white privilege is not everywhere and that everyone has an equal opportunity to advance in this world regardless of race.

This isn’t an exercise in pointing fingers. The world is fragmented enough already and I’m not looking to accentuate that by outing opinions that differ to mine. A healthy discussion is always a positive place to start, and I am grateful for everyone who took the time to reply to this article. But it’s clear that some people still feel that white privilege doesn’t exist and irrespective of skin colour, gender, socio-economic background, or just the way you look, that everyone has an ‘equal and fair go’ in today’s society.

I posted a video on YouTube earlier this week but since then have decided to put a hold on posting any more ‘lifestyle’ content for the time being. I know some people believe the distraction of content like this is a good way to escape the ugliness of the current state of the world. However I don’t believe distracting ourselves and looking away is going to fix the problem, and I believe that the majority of us out there do actually want to fix the problem.

So I wanted to let you know I’m holding off on posting the regular content on YouTube and Instagram for the moment. I have a lot of new content filmed and planned and will share that with you in due course, I would just prefer we focus on the bigger message right now and use this time to speak up for reform in our societies and within ourselves.

Finally, once again to my fellow YouTubers / content creators – I appreciate everyone’s situation is different but now is not the time to remain silent if you truly want to help make a change. We’re privileged and fortunate to have varying sizes of soapboxes to stand on, let’s use those platforms to amplify this important message. It’s not enough to sit silently knowing you don’t support racism, show your audiences you’re actively against it.

The original article follows below, but thank you again to all of you who have already stood up and added your voice to support those in our community that need us right now. For further reading in Australia have a look at the Aboriginal Charities page on the Government website and check out organisations like Bridging The Gap. Internationally see the Black Lives Matter website.

❤️ Stef


Here is the original article…

4th June, 2020

I want to publicly state that I support the Black Lives Matter movement and want to lend my support to those fighting for a world in which equality is the norm and where we stand up as a community and speak out against hatred and intolerance.

I don’t condone violence in any way and do not support any person who sees this as an opportunity to destroy property or harm others in the name of this cause. But to those peacefully protesting on the streets and online against injustice and violence, I hear you and support you.

You may not know but I am a mixed-race boy with an Indian mother and English father. I was brought up with some exposure to racism which I witnessed against members of my family and, on occasion, directed towards me. When some kids at school learned of my heritage I would be called names like “Turban Head” and was bullied and excluded from social circles not because of my skin colour but because they knew of my background. I witnessed racial abuse being thrown verbally (and sometimes physically) towards people close to me.

However since leaving school and interacting with people who didn’t know my background my light skin colour meant that for the most part I was treated as a white male and experienced the privileges associated with that.

Biggin Hill Airshow – my Mum on the left

It’s only later in life that I’ve realised my story proves something that a lot of us probably think but generally don’t want to admit. That having lighter skin in this world gives you an instant level-up. That doesn’t mean everyone with lighter skin is automatically racist, however it is pretty clear to me that it does give you advantages in life that those with darker skin don’t have and recognising that is key to changing behaviour.

“White privilege” is a term that white people hate to hear. But what’s worse is thinking that it doesn’t exist. It’s hard to accept that the ‘normal’ you’re used to isn’t entirely a result of your merits and hard work as a person. Sometimes we are handed opportunities because of the way we look which sadly means others are denied opportunities for the same reasons.

“privilege, particularly white or male privilege, is hard to see for those of us who were born with access to power and resources” (Dr Francis E Kendall)

But don’t ALL lives matter?

To those who respond “but ALL lives matter!” let me present an aviation analogy. If humanity is a twin engine aircraft and one of our engines bursts into flames what do you do? As pilot in command do you focus all your attention on the burning engine to try and fix that problem?

Or do you insist on giving both engines equal attention because all engines matter and continue complimenting your smooth running engine as you spiral into the ground?

So what can we do?

To my fellow YouTube/Instagram content creators who have similar platforms and haven’t said anything – your silence is noticeable. If you don’t think this is your fight then I honestly believe that’s a big part of the problem. Now is the time to speak up against hate and not worry about protecting your personal brand from potentially negative feedback. Now is the time to stop caring about dislikes or losing subscribers and to give back for all the opportunities we’ve had that got us to where we are today. Now is the time to use your voice to support those that cannot be heard.

To fellow travellers – it’s clear you love this world as much as I do, that’s why you choose to spend your money exploring it. As we’re not travelling right now perhaps consider using some of that time and/or money you’re currently saving to find worthy causes to support in your local area. When the world is moving again wouldn’t it be nice knowing you helped make it a little bit better whilst we were all at home?

Personally, there is still a lot more I want to do to educate myself and help those around me as well. This includes talking with my teenage daughter about what’s happening and listening to her thoughts. Helping the young generation understand the mistakes we’ve made and encouraging them to have a voice is critical for the advancement of us as a species. I also want to understand how to help minority communities in my own backyard, learning more about Aboriginal culture here in Australia and what I can do to help those voices be heard. I am also donating to local and overseas charities who stand for equality and promote positive change.

I proudly fly the Aboriginal flag on EYZ to show my respect to traditional land owners

What’s next?

Finally, I’m respectful of the fact you probably didn’t follow my work originally to hear my political or social standpoint on topics like this. You probably love aviation and travel and enjoy following my adventures and for that I am grateful. But occasionally something will happen in the world which compels me to use the platform I’m very grateful and humbled to have to try and make a change. And this is one of those situations, so thank you for taking the time to read this.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, please use the comments below or send me a private message via the contact form. The more we talk to each other calmly and truthfully the better we can understand each other and kill the intolerance. You already know how much I love this planet, I just want everyone to have the opportunity to peacefully and calmly enjoy it in an equal way.

Love > hate.

Stef

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6 Comments

  1. Hey Stef, thank you for writing this. Aviation is an almost stratospherically privileged realm and – which is very nearly, but not quite exactly the same – largely the playground of the rich old white male. There is much that we can do outside of aviation, such as you’ve outlined in this post, and it’s important that we do that within aviation as well.

    I hear people complaining about giving up privilege because ‘I’m not privileged just because I have white skin, I had a hard life too!’ It can be difficult to convince people that they can have had a hard life and *still* have benefited from privilege, just as racism isn’t simply about whether one person hates another person, it’s about the systemic foundations of oppression.

    The great thing is that for all of use reading this, even if that is too much to take in, even if that’s too much to accept, there’s so much that can be done without even having to lose any of that privilege. It can be as simple as taking an indigenous person (or anyone outside the rich old white guy paradigm) to ride along with you on your next flight, preferentially supporting aviation companies who do the right thing, all manner of things which can have an impact at the local level and cost you relatively nothing.

    And, of course, where you have a platform like this, by taking a stance like this. One thing I’d love to see following from this, Stef, is finding those indigenous voices in the community and amplifying them. I know that that’s risky for you as a creator – gods, the backlash when you went so far as to speak to a woman on camera! – but if you could find a way to do it where you could help represent but also normalise their presence I think you could do some great things.

  2. Well said Steff!👏👏
    I also really agree with your section about what we can do. The likes and followers do not matter and silence is noticeable.

  3. Dear Stefan,
    Thank you for your comments. For me it is in reality impossible to separate ourselves from the horror of racism and I’m pleased that you have spoken out. I enjoy your videos, and especially your honesty, when flying, and also now, your world view.
    We all need to speak out against racial bias, whether deliberate or unconscious. Firstly we have to start with ourselves as we are no doubt internally programmed to be suspicious of difference. Therefore it is only through education, honesty and openness, that we can build a diverse world for our children to grow up in.
    Regards, from a UK pilot.

  4. Hi Stef,
    I disagree with your statement that white privilege is everywhere and that because of the colour or your skin you get a leg up. I would be interested in a list of opportunities that are not available to “non-white” people? There are plenty of opportunities and assistance offered to Aboriginal and Torres strait Islander people that the rest of us don’t receive.
    Also being called names at school doesn’t represent racism but more bullying which happens to all races. Another point is if racism is so systematic, where are all the refugee camps? Where are all the people trying to flee our country as opposed to enter it? We live in an amazing and multicultural country. We all need to look at the facts and not just get emotionally charged over a horrific event of one cop.

  5. What an awesome article stef!even english is not my native language (Colombian guy) it is something in what we must fight everyone in its country as global Citizens, btw it’s the unique place we have for living as a community, just with respect to the person who is different to me in thought, religion or in this case skin color.
    This is what an Aviation lover, and future pilot who enjoys a lot your content thinks.
    ✈️☺️🛩️

  6. I just want to say how good this words sound, I support 100% every thing you
    meant, I congratulate you for using your platform to speak out, it is honorable people like you that use this power to make a better world. Thank you for your content!! You are true a great person inside and out!

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