ASTA’s Zane Kerby Pens Open Letter to Advisors on Racism

The American Society of Travel Advisors’ president and CEO, Zane Kerby, has penned an open letter to the travel advisor community on racism.

The letter calls for meaningful change and includes ASTA’s promise to promote social justice and equality.

“Against the backdrop of human and economic suffering occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic was the senseless killing of George Floyd, who needlessly died from a police officer’s blatant disregard for human life. This was, sadly, more evidence of the bias that exists in our justice system…” writes Kerby.

“I spent much of last week listening to co-workers describe how the death of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, in the context of other violence and social conditions prevalent for far too long, has affected them,” he added. “Each expressed frustration, fatigue, and sadness. My own expressions of solidarity were appreciated but inadequate. The entire ASTA staff, regardless of race, stands in solidarity with everyone in the African-American community advocating for peaceful change.”

Kerby went on to outline ASTA’s priorities when it comes to promoting social justice and equal treatment before the law. The steps the association plans to take follow:

First, ASTA is and will continue to be a strong financial contributor to pro-business African American Members of Congress. Many have backgrounds running small businesses and, as such, are natural allies with the small business owners that make up the majority of ASTA’s 14,000-plus members.

Second, as an advocacy organization, we must make social justice a higher priority. In the wake of last week’s protests, there have been no fewer than 50 bills related to the protestors’ grievances introduced on Capitol Hill.

Historically, we have advocated on a narrow path of issues that directly affect our members’ businesses. But, guaranteeing equality before the law for all Americans is vital to our social fabric, and therefore our members’ businesses. We’ll review the proposed bills and make you aware of those to support through our member alert system.

As with other issues of importance, we’ll ask that you contact your Members of Congress to help us get important measures across the finish line. We’ll pay particular attention to recommendations coming out of the Congressional Black Caucus, who will be leading these efforts in the House of Representatives. Silence signals that equality before the law is not important enough to address.

Third, we will host and require all ASTA staff to participate in diversity and inclusion training. We will also offer this training to all ASTA members. This will be discussed in greater detail at our upcoming virtual Town Hall meeting with the ASTA Board’s Executive Committee on Thursday, June 11.

Fourth, ASTA members give generously to important causes. Last year, we raised almost $20,000 for Bahamas hurricane relief. At this year’s Global Convention, we will raise money for the NAACP.

Kerby concludes saying: “I know my travels have shattered any sense of ethnocentrism I had and has done the same for my family and many on our staff. It’s another reason why we are pressuring the Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to provide specific guidance on what actions suppliers and individual travelers need to take in order to travel safely now and prior to a COVID-19 vaccine.

It is our job, both professionally and personally, to build bridges of tolerance and understanding that foster the equal value of all human life regardless of race, cause, creed and orientation.”

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