When we opened Blue Fern Travel over five years ago we committed to being more than just a tour company. We understood the power of the tourist dollar and its role in the reproduction of inequities throughout our region. We understood that Black business owners had to leap over hurdles that we, as White Americans, did not. We understood that the endemic poverty in many of our neighborhoods is influenced by multiple intersecting power structures with deep histories. And we understood that facing these challenges would require our constant work, reflection, and reform.
We have always been committed to making sure the vast majority of money moving through our company goes into Black and minority owned businesses, their workers, and those in the community that need it most. We have worked to support businesses by paying full price for all food that our guests eat. We have committed to tipping at least 20% to all restaurant staff with every transaction our business makes. And we have committed to providing a community member three meals for every ticket we sell through our partnership with Bread for the City, adding up to over 25,000 meals in the last five years.
We have also realized that we are in a unique position to share and amplify stories of Black and minority community members, past and present. Most of our guests are wealthy white travelers from across the nation and throughout our region. This platform has provided an opportunity to teach people the stories of important Washingtonians who have played a significant role in the generations long struggle for freedom within our borders and around the world. Many are the familiar names of historical Black leaders like Frederick Douglass, Mary Church Terrell, Anna Julia Cooper, and Mary McLeod Bethune. Others shaped our local and national culture like Carter G. Woodson, Alain Locke, Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, Marvin Gaye and Chuck Brown. But some of the most important people we speak about are those committed to facing our world today with the passion and love that makes the District such a special place and inspire us to do our best to make a difference, like Virginia Ali, Sunyatta Amen, Aniekan, Miss Chelove, Stacie Lee Banks, and Marquett Milton. Sadly, there are too many Black Washingtonians who are not here today and can no longer experience all the good that is in D.C, including D’Quan Young, Terrence Sterling, William Howard Green, and Jeffrey Price.
Moving forward we are making new commitments to fight racist, sexist, and economic structures that continue to reproduce the violence and injustices too many Americans face everyday. This begins with a review of all tour experiences to guarantee they move from implicit anti-racist experiences to explicit anti-racist experiences for our guests. We will expand our offerings to support Black-owned businesses that exist outside of the culinary sphere. We will develop sustainable funding streams that enable us to support anti-racist organizations seeking systemic changes inside the District. And we commit to increasing the diversity of our workforce at all levels throughout the hiring and promotion process.
Watching the growth of the movement over the past two weeks has been more bitter than sweet. We have seen bigotry, hatred, and violence from the highest powers in our nation. We have seen more state violence and more deaths of Black people and their allies in the streets. Some have chosen to transition from protest to violent revolution resulting in the deaths of some Police Officers, which only encourages others to draw their guns more quickly. Many cling to hope for systemic change, but our city’s history has shown that even the most dramatic social changes were merely small steps in a long march towards justice.
We will never stop.