< PrevNext > George Floyd Outcome of Injustice By Elizabeth West / December 10, 2020 / Contact Reporter Share Before 2020, when did you participate in a managed travel conference that talked about racial inequality, much less racial injustice? When George Floyd was killed on the streets of Minneapolis this summer, he was elevated to a symbol that represents a long line of racially motivated crimes, injustice and inequality that includes far too many Black victims. But symbolism also diminishes—it threatens to sublimate Floyd's flesh-and-blood humanity in service of a concept. Our collective conscience never should separate humanity from Floyd or any victim of the much-too-deep legacy of systemic racism. Floyd's final words, "I can't breathe," gasped from his throat beneath the knee of white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, have become a rallying cry for social injustice. Black Lives Matter protests reverberated loud enough this summer to reach the ears of travel companies. American Airlines allowed BLM pins to be worn by employees until it could develop an official pin. The airline held back official support for BLM. Delta raised a BLM flag at its headquarters. In a memo to employees, Delta CEO Ed Bastian revealed inequalities in the ranks of that company, and he pledged to do better. Marriott executive chairman J.W. Marriott Jr., CEO Arne Sorenson and chief diversity officer David Rodriguez decried racism in a similar statement and implicitly aligned the company with Black Lives matter, "We believe that the lives of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks and countless others matter and were lost to a society where pervasive racism exists. We believe racism should be eradicated." Travel managers have told BTN they will look for more than statements as they establish travel program partners. Industry group Travel and Meeting Standards (see Susan Lichtenstein, page 17) has formed an equity committee to determine metrics for assessing partners on diversity competency. Suppliers say they're being pressed for diversity and equity information during the sourcing process. Without Floyd, these conversations would not be surging in this space. Must change come at such a human cost? As an industry, we should ask ourselves that more often, and move before it is answered in the affirmative.