A Personal Statement on Protests and Black Lives Matter

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I fully support the protests and Black Lives Matter movement.

I went to college and grad school at the nation’s largest and finest Historically Black College – North Carolina A&T State University – and, until recently, lived in a predominately African American neighborhood.

That was, of course, not the same as being black. But it has helped shape my views about the need for equity and equality in America: that our country would be better if everyone got to experience life where the people running the institutions of power were not always like them.

Freedom is never given; it is won.
—A. Philip Randolph

It’s clear that systemic racism pervades all of America’s most powerful institutions. I doubt that we can change those institutions by working solely through their systems, because our history shows those systems are corruptible too.

I believe the fastest way to end racism is to make the consequences of racism as terrible to white people as they are to black people.

And while I don’t condone violence, the damage to property done by protesters is an insignificant fraction of the damage done to blacks through business, government, and police policies for the past 300 years. Those who are troubled by looting should be absolutely paralyzed by what our black neighbors, friends, co-workers—indeed, all black Americans—experience on a daily basis.

To my friends who say “This is not what I come to TouringPlans for”, I say this is not why I started the site either. But I have already spoken out against the problem of economic inequality in theme park prices, because I think that it threatens the ability of Americans to enjoy Disney World as a shared cultural experience. I feel the same way about racial inequality, and thank you for understanding my position here.

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.
—Barack Obama

I realize that words without action don’t matter. To that end, here is the start of the changes that I will make to TouringPlans:

  • I will ensure through future hiring that the demographics of our staff, including writers, researchers, and developers, move us towards equality with the demographics of the country as a whole.
  • Our social media and writing managers will take the Poynter Institute’s ethics course “Handling Race and Ethnicity”

This is a beginning, not a solution. I am here to listen to your ideas on how to make this company more inclusive. Please contact me with any comments, suggestions, or feedback: len@touringplans.com.

Yours in solidarity,

Len Testa

Len Testa

Len Testa is the co-author of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, and has contributed to the Disneyland and Las Vegas Unofficial Guides. Most of his time is spent trying to keep up with the team. Len's email address is len@touringplans.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @lentesta.

153 thoughts on “A Personal Statement on Protests and Black Lives Matter

  • June 3, 2020 at 5:16 pm
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    Stick to disney stuff

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  • June 3, 2020 at 5:21 pm
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    Great response, Len. Thank you for stepping up.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 5:24 pm
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    Thank you Len for your leadership and solidarity with our black neighbors and loved ones.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 5:30 pm
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    Thank you Len and all the staff at Touring Plans for speaking up and taking real action.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 5:30 pm
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    I always thought that Touring Plans was a great organization to deal with and had good people behind it. This personal statement proves that I was right. Thank you.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 5:31 pm
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    Well said. Thank for you your accountability and action items. Proud to be a fan!

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  • June 3, 2020 at 5:33 pm
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    Love seeing this from the site I enjoy the most. Despite those who prefer to live life in a vacuum, ignoring the reality of the world we live in will never lead to the change we need.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 5:40 pm
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    I’m glad to hear this and will continue to renew.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 5:43 pm
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    Hi DisneyDad, what are your thoughts on the Walt Disney World attractions that include important cultural information like American Adventure? How about Hall of Presidents?

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  • June 3, 2020 at 5:43 pm
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    Outstanding, Len. Thank you for this.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 5:45 pm
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    “Those who are troubled by looting should be absolutely paralyzed by what our black neighbors, friends, co-workers—indeed, all black Americans—experience on a daily basis.”

    Well-said!! Thank you for using your public voice so eloquently.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 5:46 pm
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    Thank you for speaking out, Len! I support and agree with your message.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 5:47 pm
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    Thank you for the words and for the steps that you are taking!

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  • June 3, 2020 at 5:47 pm
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    Thank you Len for speaking up! It’s been sad having to unfollow so many from the Disney Community I have loved for so long. I’m glad that you are exactly the stand up kind of person I perceived you to be, and I look forward to seeing more people who look like me on your staff. Proud to be a Liner! – Hollowgirl78

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  • June 3, 2020 at 5:48 pm
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    Thank you Len. Thank you.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 5:50 pm
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    I applaud you Len.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 5:54 pm
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    Thank you, Len.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 5:57 pm
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    Kudos to you for taking a good and positive step. My suggestion? I started using The Unofficial Guide some time in the 90’s; I am sure y’all have a pulse on all things Disney. Ticket pricing is way too high for many families, and the crowds at Disney are quite disproportionate when it comes to People of Color. So if you have Disney’s ‘ear’, please let them know something must be done to allow everyone the opportunity to experience the magic.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 6:00 pm
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    I am proud to work for an organization that leads with such grace. Thank you, Len.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 6:01 pm
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    I’m glad you’re not “sticking to Disney stuff.” Thanks for making me feel better about continuing to support your business.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 6:09 pm
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    This is one of the best statements I’ve read to date! Thank you for using your platform!

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  • June 3, 2020 at 6:11 pm
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    Excellent message Len. Thank you for doing the right thing and speaking out. Silence and neutrality are complicity. I appreciate this so much.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 6:13 pm
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    We need to make a change – not just in the states but around the world. We can’t all just stick to our “stuff” as a poster said above – change will only happen if we all enforce that change.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 6:14 pm
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    Thank you, Len! This means a lot!

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  • June 3, 2020 at 6:15 pm
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    Dani i will andwer your question the best i can. First off those atyractions are very important in showing where we came from as a country and even though we have a ways to go that we are more than halfway there. African americans used to be slaves, no more. African americans didnt have the right to vote now they do. African americans didnt have any chance at political office now we have had a president. I am not saying we are there. To assume that we are in the same situation as we were 200 years ago isnt realistic either.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 6:16 pm
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    Well stated, Len.

    As Elie Wiesel said, “We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

    I do not yet fully know what my own stance in taking sides will be in the time ahead of us, but I hope I can make some difference in supporting the causes of black lives and the path to real, tangible equality.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 6:19 pm
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    Thank you Len. I appreciate you speaking out.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 6:19 pm
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    Thank you Len!!! I knew I loved Touring Plans!!!
    I’m a fellow A&T grad. The fact you mentioned you went to A&T shows what an ally you are. I will continue to support you and Touring Plans any way possible.
    ❤️❤️

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  • June 3, 2020 at 6:22 pm
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    Well said, and only encourages me to continue my support of your site.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 6:24 pm
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    Thank you Len for not only what you said but the action steps your company is making!

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  • June 3, 2020 at 6:28 pm
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    Thank you for speaking up. I appreciate your leadership in taking a stand. Your post reinforces my love of Touring Plans and what it stands for even more. The world is not always a magical place and remaining quiet will only continue to reinforce inequality and injustice.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 6:29 pm
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    Thanks for the strong statement, Len. So proud to be part of this awesome community.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 6:34 pm
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    Just echoing what the majority have said – I’ve enjoyed being a TP member for 2 years now and will continue to do so even when I don’t have a trip planned. It takes courage to be bold when it’s your business on the line. And bold is the only way things will change. Thank you for lending your voice to it.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 6:36 pm
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    Well said Len, thank you.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 6:38 pm
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    Thank you! I will continue supporting your site.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 6:39 pm
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    Good job taking a stand, Len.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 6:39 pm
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    Thank you, Len. You are a true class act.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 6:41 pm
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    Wow, virtue signal much?

    Why don’t you give us some concrete example of your lilly-white guilt and let some of these passionate “protestors” express their sorrow by ransacking your house? I mean, after all, you seem to be all about collective guilt. Put up or shut up.

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    • June 3, 2020 at 6:55 pm
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      For those of you who can’t see the email address Earl gave, it’s “@nixon.gov”. That is hilarious for reasons obviously not apparent to Mr. Butz.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 6:42 pm
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    Well said Len! Thank you

    While many of us don’t fully understand, we must all listen and see everyone for exactly what we all are…. people

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  • June 3, 2020 at 6:46 pm
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    I wasn’t going to renew my subscription this year because we aren’t traveling in the near future, but I am now. Thank you for speaking up.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 6:47 pm
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    For a man whose business relies so heavily on statistics, it baffles me that you choose to ignore them in this case. Every available statistic refutes the assertion that “systemic racism pervades all of America’s most powerful institutions.” There are indeed very serious issues and perceptions that need to be addressed, but intentionally mis-identifying the problem only makes it less likely that those issues will receive the attention they desperately need. This kind of pandering may make you feel better, but it does a great disservice to the very people you presume to support with this statement. Hard-working, law-abiding people of color are suffering and will continue to suffer because of attitudes like this, and it’s a terrible shame. Please consider applying the same reason and intellect to this issue that you apply to your wait times and touring plans. The people you claim to want to help deserve more than platitudes and virtue signalling.

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    • June 3, 2020 at 7:57 pm
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      I dunno, Paul. Currently less than 1% of Fortune 500 CEOs are black, and 3% of U.S. Senators, despite African-Americans being ~13% of the U.S. population. If our Declaration of Independence is right in saying everyone is created equally, then those outcomes should look more like the population as a whole.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 6:51 pm
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    Great post. Thank you for speaking up.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 6:51 pm
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    Well said, Len. I especially like how you detailed concrete ways you plan to move forward. I don’t typically comment, but I wanted to add my voice to those in support of your message, since we know those who disagree will be out in force.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 6:57 pm
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    Thank you for sending this clear message, Len. Glad to have written for you guys in the past, and glad to continue to support your work.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 7:01 pm
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    I’ve always appreciated your work ( and all the touring plans staff! ) and will continue to support your site/books/social media. Thank you so much, Len, for sharing your thoughts. I know I have a lot to do to be better and grow!

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  • June 3, 2020 at 7:02 pm
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    Respect. I just re-upped my TP subscription as a sign of support.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 7:04 pm
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    Thank you for using your platform to speak up! We’re not planning to return to Disney until 2022 but because of this I will renew now.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 7:04 pm
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    Excellent! Thank you for sharing and trying to make a difference.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 7:13 pm
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    Thank you, Len for your statement. I would ask you to reconsider your policy regarding hiring to reflect demographics. I would suggest a policy of hiring the best qualified candidates regardless of ethnicity. By focusing on ethnicity, I think we perpetuate the problem. If some people are having trouble competing in society, I think it is our responsibility to improve education for everyone so that everyone has a opportunity to achieve their maximum potential. I’d gladly discuss this more else where.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 7:14 pm
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    It is much easier to stay silent right now, so I truly appreciate the ones who speaking up. Thank you!

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  • June 3, 2020 at 7:15 pm
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    Len – your thoughtfulness and intelligence are what separates this site from the other Disney fan sites. I appreciate your using the forum you created to share your views and the actions you’re taking. As Walt himself is supposed to have said, “Our heritage and ideals, our code and standards – the things we live by and teach our children – are preserved or diminished by how freely we exchange ideas and feelings.”

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  • June 3, 2020 at 7:16 pm
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    renewing!

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  • June 3, 2020 at 7:18 pm
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    Thank you, Len.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 7:27 pm
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    A sincere thank you, Len. Your words (and plan of actions) speak volumes to your character and to this company as a whole.
    “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter” -MLK

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  • June 3, 2020 at 7:29 pm
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    1) I love your A. Philip Randolph quote. He was a brilliant man.
    2) this was – by far – one of the best statements I’ve seen right now. Thank you for standing on the side of justice. TP has been an invaluable resource to me for three years and I’m so happy to know it’s run by someone with a moral compass.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 7:30 pm
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    Thank you for acknowledging our country’s pain. We all need to do better.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 7:36 pm
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    I didn’t need another reason for loving Touring Plans, but thank you, Mr. Testa for giving me one. At this point, when it comes to racism, silence is complicity. I appreciate your courage in taking a stand and speaking out.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 7:43 pm
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    Reading through the comments and seeing others re-up their subscriptions, I’ve followed their lead and extended our WDW and UO plans subscriptions for two additional years. Thanks again!

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  • June 3, 2020 at 7:52 pm
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    Thank you, Len. I support your efforts at making your site, Disney Parks and this country more fair and equitable places for us all to share together.
    I post by the name DisneyDad and while I don’t “own it,” I’m not the knucklehead who posted earlier suggesting you not express your opinions.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 7:57 pm
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    LEN!! Thank you! This is so wonderful. We’re not going to a Disney park until October of next year at the earliest but I’m renewing my Land and World subscriptions!

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  • June 3, 2020 at 7:59 pm
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    Well said Len! Much like the content you put out on TP, very spot on. Thank you!

    While we may all not fully understand, we all need to listen and make a change and keep sight of one thing…. we are all people and should be treated equally

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  • June 3, 2020 at 8:01 pm
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    There is a time and place for everything. Time for me to move on….

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  • June 3, 2020 at 8:05 pm
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    Thank you for the statement, position, and effort. Consumers endorse and support businesses with their dollars and I will absolutely continue to support this one.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 8:09 pm
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    Thank you!! We all need to take a stand and I appreciate your voice adding to the conversation and your action steps to continue to improve.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 8:23 pm
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    Len so well articulated. I am a white women and I can’t possibly understand what being black in the US feels like, I know one thing we can’t continue the way we are going. I am a mom and when I heard George cry out for his mama, he spoke to every mother in this country. We need to listen, we need to try to understand and then collectively we need to make change. Thank you for what speaking out and positively affecting your sphere of influence. While the problem is large and at times feels insurmountable I know each small step will bring us closer to ending institutional racism.
    You have a customer for life.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 8:58 pm
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    Thank you for this well-articulated and firm show of support! I was waiting for the parks to open back up before renewing my subscription, but I will be doing it now instead.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 9:00 pm
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    I’m proud of you, Len – keep doing this important thinking and work.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 9:21 pm
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    This is excellent. I’ve found myself awkwardly trying to get through this and support my friends, what to do and how to help- as I wait for my own boss to make any sort of statement at all, a vacation planning site is what brings me inspiration in Philadelphia tonight as we move to true brotherly and sisterly love.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 9:23 pm
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    Thank you Len! I hadn’t renewed my subscription this year because I don’t have a trip planned for the foreseeable future, but I will be now. Thank you for speaking up.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 9:23 pm
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    Len! We knew we liked you so many years ago, but this just shows how awesome you remain. Thank you for not being a passive onlooker, but instead, an active voice who both acknowledges and gives testimony that these issues do in fact exist. I started my day reading Langston Hughes’s poems “Democracy” and “I look at the world”. I ended my day reading your blog post. Both gave me moments of deep reflection and I appreciate it.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 9:28 pm
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    Thank you for using your platform to make an impactful and well designed statement. Please keep speaking and I’ll keep listening.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 9:32 pm
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    Wonderful statement Len and amen!

    I need access to the Futurama “Take my money” meme without the shut up included because this is what I want my money supporting. We are all one people and if there was a time to not “stick to Disney” and “stick to sports” it is now. We have to speak out against this and not be silent!

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  • June 3, 2020 at 9:38 pm
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    So proud to have such a cool, smart and woke dad! Love you

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  • June 3, 2020 at 9:46 pm
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    Thank you for speaking up.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 9:47 pm
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    Thanks Len. I expected no less from you. Well said sir!

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  • June 3, 2020 at 9:57 pm
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    Well said, and well worth the read. It is difficult for many people to know what to do to promote change. Supporting companies with commitments like yours is one way. Communicating to our government leaders is another, and voting – voting has become key.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 9:59 pm
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    Thanks for speaking up and supporting our fellow citizens of color. I knew I loved Touringplans and its people!

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  • June 3, 2020 at 10:02 pm
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    “Make the consequences of racism as terrible to white people as they are to black people.” REALLY?

    And to justify the violence, theft and assaults (including murder) as minimal compared to what blacks have suffered over 300 years. Those are crimes and two wrongs NEVER equal a right.

    FYI…I and many like me have never committed these acts against blacks. In fact most of their crimes are against their own families and neighbors who have the same issues to deal with as the perpetrators.

    You painting all of society as racist is no better than a racist painting all people of color as less than. It is offensive and unwarranted.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 11:06 pm
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    I believe in the cause, but the looting should be condemned. Black and brown business owners in Chicago neighborhoods have lost everything to looters. Bullets whizzed by the windows of an elderly friend’s first-floor apartment adjacent to a liquor store in a now-destroyed Latino neighborhood. Food deserts that had been no more are back, as grocery stores in many neighborhoods have sustained considerable damage and POC have to travel many miles to buy food. POC are suffering and even being killed during looting, much of which is done by white people. Equality and Justice YES, violence NO.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 11:11 pm
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    Len I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your stand. People speaking out at this time is one thing giving some hope to this dark, dismal time. I’m inspired and convicted to do more in my own sphere of influence and I will. Thank you. -disneydadben

    p.s.- to those critical of the thoughts expressed, I have found it to be such a valuable lesson in my own life to seek out and listen to black voices on these issues. There is much wisdom to be gleaned if we will listen rather than going into the subject with minds made up. Let’s be humble and teachable.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 11:26 pm
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    Excellent post, Len! We all need to give back to the black community. I’ve pledged to share my Touring Plans login with at least 10 African Americans. I know six other subscribers who are willing to do the same. There are a lot struggling families in my part of Florida. While we can get some good deals on Disney World as Florida residents, free access to Touring Plans will allow families to buy a couple of Mickey ice cream bars for their kids. It’s the least we can do! It won’t make up for 300 years of oppression, but I hope it can make a dent in the humiliation of being portrayed on television by Rerun & Shirley on “What’s Happening!!” If enough of us are willing to share, perhaps the indignation of Steve Urkel can fade from our collective memory.

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  • June 3, 2020 at 11:28 pm
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    Complete horse shit! Almost nothing of what you said is true.
    And anyone that supports these domestic terrorist groups, promulgates the false victim narrative, or condones the actions of these repugnant POS rioters IS THE PROBLEM. If you want to listen to some actual clear-thinking black people, then I suggest you seek out Thomas Sowell, Larry Elder, Lt. Col. Allen West, etc….rather than the narcissistic, irresponsible, anti-American dregs that make most of the noise and fill our deplorable media, academia, sports, and Hollywood.

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  • June 4, 2020 at 12:01 am
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    So well stated, thank you so much for this, Len.

    LONG time fan of all things TouringPlans and Unofficial Guide to WDW, that allegiance has solidified.

    It would be much easier to be silent, but you have shown your true American values here. Thank you for taking a stand.

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  • June 4, 2020 at 12:04 am
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    Based on your dialect I highly doubt you have a relationship with one, nevertheless 10, POC. Your sarcasm is not lost on us. And if you truly do have any POC in your circle, I encourage you to keep listening.

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  • June 4, 2020 at 12:07 am
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    above comment intended for @DwayneClemens

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  • June 4, 2020 at 1:45 am
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    Len,

    You will have a lifetime supporter in me and my family. Thank you for being brave and using your platform to elevate these issues even though you will undoubtedly ruffle some of feathers. I have always loved all your content and you have solidified my high opinion of you and this site.

    Thank you very much

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  • June 4, 2020 at 2:20 am
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    Len, while we could certainly debate the baseline for your statement regarding how clear it is that racism is systemic in all of our major institutions, I for one applaud your willingness to do your best to stand in another person’s shoes, especially those of another race or ethnicity; however, I think you are selling yourself short. I don’t think for a moment that Len Testa is a racist, even in a latent business sense, and I don’t think you should be willing to think of yourself as one in terms of your business practices. Beginning to hire people based to any degree on the color of their skin rather than the content of their character is exactly the opposite of what MLK, Jr., stood for. We all need to realize that passing qualified people over because they are not black is just as racist as passing people over because they are. We will not solve the problem of racism by artificially creating diversity in our institutions; there are better ways, worthy of serious discussion, to ensure that blacks and other minorities have what they need to succeed in America. Yes, we must and should seek ways to combat racism wherever it truly exists, but we do an injustice to those who have truly suffered under it if we begin to classify everything as racism. That said, we can all agree that what happened to George Floyd is deplorable, and justice should indeed be done, both for him and the family business owners of every ethnicity, including many blacks, who have suffered unjustly at the hands of the rioters, who are not solving the problem by expressing their anger in a way that hurts other innocent people. And let me just say that I have been so blessed by this site and TouringPlans in general. It’s such a great service, site, and product, and I have long been proud to brag about its effectiveness and usefulness to others. Keep up the great work! :o)

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  • June 4, 2020 at 3:42 am
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    This statement just guaranteed that I will always be a Touring Plans subscriber regardless of whether I am planning a trip or not. Very proud to support this site!

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  • June 4, 2020 at 6:22 am
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    Thank you, Len. Well said. I appreciate your commitment to diversity and equity within your own company. Between COVID and the uncertainty in the economy, it is likely going to be quite some time before we can get back to Disney, but I am so glad I just renewed my subscription. Keep up the good work, and keep caring!

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  • June 4, 2020 at 10:10 am
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    So well said Len. I have always felt good about supporting Touring Plans and I will continue to do so.

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  • June 4, 2020 at 10:39 am
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    Thanks so much Len. Even more glad to support this site. More importantly, I’ve seen how people are not looked upon as individuals but stereotyped by the color of their skin. I’ve been in circumstances where, being white, I’m treated differently than a person of color. Even if you’re afraid to speak up then and there, there are actions that you can take. You can inform a store that you will no longer give them your business. You can inform an institution about discriminatory behavior that you witnessed. Most importantly, you can speak up. Nothing changes unless we all are involved.

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  • June 4, 2020 at 10:41 am
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    Thank you Len. I think it is entirely appropriate for you to use the platform you are lucky to have, to call for equality, as should all those who are in a position to have an audience they can influence. It is great that you are putting positive actions behind the words too.

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  • June 4, 2020 at 10:43 am
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    Thank you, Len, from a proud supporter of TouringPlans. Your statement makes me sure about renewing my subscription even though I do not know when it will be possible for me to return to the parks.

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  • June 4, 2020 at 11:03 am
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    I understand the sentiment but, you left out a lot of facts.

    I agree that the four cops were in the wrong here, but institutional racism, as a whole, no longer exists in this country. Are there racist individuals, sure, but as a whole it’s just not there.

    Most people aren’t down with this because BLM fails to address these points or show up to protest them:

    Blacks make up 13% of the population yet commit the majority of crimes.

    The percentage of fatherless black homes is higher than it was in slavery days and in the 60s.

    “Hands up don’t shoot” is a myth.

    Whites are more than 2.5x more likely to be killed by cops than blacks.

    The biggest threat to blacks, in terms of violence, is blacks.

    The majority of people — whites, blacks, and Mexicans– believe that blacks are indeed the most racist.

    So, Len, Hulu, Disney, Netflix, Starbucks, and everyone commenting: where are you when blacks are killed in Chicago and Baltimore every weekend? Where are you when blacks in general are killed by other blacks? Where are you when tens of thousands of black babies are murdered? Where were you when innocent blacks were killed during the riots? Where were you when minority-owned businesses got burned up?

    Why do you all only speak up when it’s a white person doing it? Where are you when whites and Mexicans are killed by blacks?

    Oh, and when whites are minorities in fifty years time, are you going to show them all this “support?” Are they going to be entitled to everything? BS!

    That’s right, there’s only outrage when the media wants you to be outraged. Otherwise, just continue going on about your lives and quit pretending like you really care. Companies couldn’t give a crap what people think, as long as they make their money. Good, you showed solidarity when Paris got terrorized and changed your avatars to their flag. Guess you forgot about that now.

    Outrage of the day? Plastic straws! Let’s ban them! Yay, social media likes us. (all based on a lie)
    (But plastic gloves are ok now, I guess.)

    The more you keep on victimizing yourselves, the more you simply award careers and trophies to people simply based on the color of their skin… it’s not going to do you any favors. It’s actually the opposite of what Dr. King said.

    If I’m wrong, please share why, with facts. I’d love to hear someone answer these questions, no one seems to know how to.

    You will never never — I repeat NEVER — completely eradicate evil from this world. That is a utopian dream. You want to change the world, get off your social media and really do something about it. Your avatars and $5 to the guy who said something that felt good, will do nothing.

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  • June 4, 2020 at 11:16 am
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    Outstanding Len, thank you

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  • June 4, 2020 at 12:30 pm
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    Thank you for taking the time. But be careful saying things like, “…the damage to property done by protesters…” The actual protesters aren’t to be blamed for that.

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  • June 4, 2020 at 12:59 pm
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    And by the way, this false narrative about these being “peaceful protests” is a lie…nothing but leftist propaganda. Killing and assaulting police officers (some of whom are black), burning, looting, and vandalising businesses (many of which are black owned), killing and assaulting innocent citizens (most of whom are black), and basic vile behavior….NONE of this occurs at “peaceful protests”. These people are nothing but human excrement that are victimizing the innocent, and anyone that endorses them is just as morally bankrupt. Somehow on an almost daily basis people in the country peacefully protest equally repugnant behavior such as the killing of babies (I guess black baby lives DON’T matter), infringement on the 2nd Amendment, etc…..and NO violence of any sort occurs, nor anything close. In fact, they often leave those areas cleaner than when they arrived. Congrats Len, you earned your “Woke Card”…unfortunately, surrendering your integrity and values automatically comes with that inane choice.

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  • June 4, 2020 at 1:08 pm
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    As many others have said this was one of the better statements I’ve read in addressing both the immediate issues and the long term consequences of residing within a country founded in white supremacy. I appreciated you included two actions you plan to take. Will renew my subscription as well even without a trip planned anytime soon. Also subscribed to Bandcamp last week to support the work you and Jim Hill are doing.

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  • June 4, 2020 at 1:24 pm
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    Thank you for saying something and standing up! I love this site and will be glad to continue to recommend it. The silence out there is deafening so I am so happy to have you share this.

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  • June 4, 2020 at 1:34 pm
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    Well said. Well done. Thank you!

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  • June 4, 2020 at 1:48 pm
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    Thank you, Len. So happy to be able to support Touring Plans knowing that your company stands up for what is right.

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  • June 4, 2020 at 3:05 pm
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    As someone who worked, sacrificed and saved, sometimes for years, for a family vacation to Walt Disney World, please explain to me how you
    propose to address “economic inequality” in theme park prices? Quite frankly, that is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard. So, because I cannot personally afford a BMW or bigger house, it’s “economic inequality” and something should be done so I can have those things? Absolutely not. Our generation was taught that if you want something, you work hard and save for it.

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  • June 4, 2020 at 3:46 pm
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    Thank you Len for your comments. I believe you have a unique perspective being that you attended the illustrious North Carolina A&T University, where my daughter currently attends. I only ask others reading these comments, that even if you do not agree with Len’s words above, that you close your eyes and substitute the face of the most loved person in your life and put them in any situation of violence you see or hear of. While I agree that the media spins quite a bit of information we are given, violence in any form by anyone should not be tolerated. No one wants that type experience to fall on them.

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  • June 4, 2020 at 4:12 pm
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    “And while I don’t condone violence, the damage to property done by protesters is an insignificant fraction of the damage done to blacks through business, government, and police policies for the past 300 years. Those who are troubled by looting should be absolutely paralyzed by what our black neighbors, friends, co-workers—indeed, all black Americans—experience on a daily basis.”

    You just dishonored the death of 6 Black Americans when you made an excuse for the recent violence. More Black Americans have been killed in one week by the unrest following the protests than the total number of “unjust” police killings in all of 2019. Racism is evil. Killing and property damage are evil. The death of George Floyd at the hands of police is intolerable. The deaths of Dave Patrick Underwood, Chris Beaty, Italia Kelly, and David Dorn (all black) at the hands of rioters is intolerable. I’m an 8 year member of Touring Plans and I stand with our friends and neighbors against racism and oppression. However, your failure to condemn looting and violence sickens me.

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  • June 4, 2020 at 4:17 pm
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    “Those who are troubled by looting should be absolutely paralyzed by what our black neighbors, friends, co-workers—indeed, all black Americans—experience on a daily basis.”

    Hi Len. Please let me know of a time in the last 25 years when mobs of White Americans stormed black neighborhoods, looting their stores, burning their businesses, and killing their citizens. You state this happens “on a daily basis” to “all black Americans.” I would appreciate some examples, because I am coming up blank on this one…

    Let’s all agree that racism and police brutality are bad and then we can work together to stop them. Making unfounded claims doesn’t seem to help the situation. It just gives people the opportunity discredit, what would otherwise be, a strong stand against inequality.

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    • June 4, 2020 at 8:18 pm
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      Chad, I’m happy to help find examples of, and I quote myself here, “the damage done to blacks through business, government, and police policies for the last 300 years.”

      The easiest way to get started is with this is to type into Google a phrase like “unequal outcomes by race in _______”, and fill in the blank with words that represent those institutions, such as “hospitals”, “housing”, “education”, and “hiring”.

      For example, here are two NY Times articles that summarize many studies on disparate outcomes by race in hospitalization.

      For racism in housing, here’s the Federal Reserve.

      Education isn’t a guarantee out, because it’s got problems too. Here’s a good summary by the libertarian Brookings Institute..

      I thought racism in hiring practices was well known, but here’s a good start.

      Just yesterday the U.S. military acknowledged racism in its ranks. Of course, high-ranking officers have spoken out about institutional racism in the military before.

      Let’s see … schools, hospitals, businesses, housing, the military … we’re all aware of gerrymandering in government … I think I’ve covered all the big institutions.

      Let me know if those Google searches don’t work for you – Google does adjust search results by geography and past search history, so it’s possible you and I don’t see exactly the same things.

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  • June 4, 2020 at 5:12 pm
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    First bought your Unofficial Guide over 30 years ago. Have been a paid subscriber to your site for a decade. I appreciate your sentiment, but I always like to see behind the curtain and see who’s giving the lecture.

    I went through your author archives, at least as many as I could find. Guess how many writers of color Touringplans.com has?

    Florida is 16.9% Black or African American (per Census.gov) and 26.1% Hispanic or Latino. The state is 53.5% White. Orange County is less White, more Black, and more Hispanic than the state as a whole.

    I couldn’t find a non-white author in the author archives on Touringplans.com. I’m willing to admit that I’m wrong. Just point me in the direction of the non-white authors.

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  • June 4, 2020 at 5:24 pm
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    Len, As always, you are a person of fairness and conscience. Thanks for speaking up.

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  • June 4, 2020 at 6:48 pm
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    Thank you Len. Been a fan of yours and touring plan for decades. Now even more so; much more so (didn’t think there was room for that). I was also impressed by Brian’s tweet a couple of days ago, stating that a focus on Disney World does imply even thing else is ignorable. Make things better, step by step, wherever you can. Thanks!

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  • June 4, 2020 at 7:59 pm
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    I love & respect you Len, as much as any person whom I’ve yet to actually meet in person. Sincerely, a deep bow. And the steps you’re taking regarding TP are self-evidently commendable.

    But you lose me here:

    “And while I don’t condone violence, the damage to property done by protesters is an insignificant fraction of the damage done to blacks…”

    You do know that people have died, yes?

    I’m sorry but I don’t believe there is any such thing as a “wrong scale”. And if there was, the remedy isn’t to add more wrong (which in this case among other aspects, fuels unfortunate stereotypes), but to add more right.

    What you’re doing with TP adds some right. So kudos.

    But there’s something very wrong when one justifies wrong, while giving what seems like perfunctory lip service to the word “condone”. I’m sorry I just can’t follow you there.

    TP has always been run with the utmost integrity, which is something I admire you for and have cited to others. But there is no justification for the violence, looting, and destruction of life & property going on, no matter how bad the ones doing it may feel.

    Go well.

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    • June 4, 2020 at 8:23 pm
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      I appreciate your comments, my friend. You’re right. I could’ve said it better, and my intent wasn’t to excuse violence. I was trying to ensure we don’t lose the forest for the trees, by heading off the “but the looting!” replies.

      I thought that former Secretary of Defense James Mattis said it better last night: “We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers. The protests are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values—our values as people and our values as a nation.” That was what I was trying to say.

      Hope to see you soon.

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  • June 4, 2020 at 8:32 pm
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    My comment is directed @ “Audrey”.

    As you asked for an explanation, I hope I can provide one, though I certainly do not purport to speak for Len or the great people at TouringPlans.

    Generally speaking, in market research, what we’ll always do is look at a “norm” or a “benchmark”. To this end, in the case of the cost of a Disney vacation, we’ll hold controls (think: consistent number of days and number of people in the family), and look at change over time.

    Here, the a benchmark might be “number of day’s wages” or “rate of inflation” (or really, both) that can tell us if the cost of a Disney vacation is outpacing the general cost of living for the “average American”.

    The numbers indicate that YES, the cost of a Disney vacation is FAR outpacing the Average American’s wage growth and the rate of inflation over time, pretty much any time period.. (Generally, these increase somewhat mirror each other, but either feel valid as benchmarks).

    When the curves of these changes increasingly diverge, it’s a reasonable and prudent statement to make that “economic inequality” is becoming an issue for the average person, for the average Disney vacation.

    Hope this helps you understand why it’s NOT just about hard work and savings, which I can personally very much relate to. We do not go to Disney every year, though I’d really love to, for this very same reason as you state. This said, my inability to visit as often as I’d like doesnt cloud my vision to realize that for MORE Americans than ever, ANY Disney vacation is out of reach.

    Cheers,
    Joey Cola

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  • June 4, 2020 at 9:13 pm
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    Thank you for this powerful statement. Like so many others I’m proud to be a member of this community and will continue renewing even though I don’t currently have a trip planned.

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  • June 4, 2020 at 9:25 pm
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    In all honesty Len, Thank you for your response to my comment. At the very least, I better appreciate what you were trying to say. I’m sure we will have many levels of disagreement on this issue, but I am sure we all agree that we desire equality, kindness, decency, and respect among all people. I love the website and plan on continuing my subscription. Have a great day my friend!

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  • June 4, 2020 at 10:10 pm
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    I originally wanted to post a heartfelt thank you to Len, but now I feel compelled to say much more. I am instead writing a pithy response to DisneyWaltDisney because I have neither the time nor energy to address all of the inaccurate information that you unfortunately believe with such certainty to be true.

    1. If you want to talk about black on black crime, then you need to talk about white on white crime or Latino on Latino crime or insert any racial group of your choosing. We live segregated lives and are therefore most likely to be victims of crimes committed by people of the same racial group.

    2. The myth of black criminality was created post-Reconstruction in order justify procuring another source of free labor. If you are interested in opening your eyes to ideas that challenge your misconceptions, I encourage you to read or watch Slavery By Another Name by Douglas Blackmon.

    3. Institutional racism is real. There is an entire body of research and intellectual thought that explains the origins and continued existence of institutional racism. Race in America is a college textbook that explains these ideas in an accessible way.

    4. The rest is just nonsense that exhausts me.

    There are of course many more suggestions I could make, but I fear you have already closed your mind to understanding experiences that are very different from your own. I will not engage in internet vitriol, so please don’t bother responding, but I do extend my hand to you, as a black woman, fellow American, and Disney fan, and I hope that you take at least a small step in re-evaluating your narrow understanding of our shared history and the significance of the current moment.

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  • June 4, 2020 at 10:31 pm
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    Thank you, Len. I fully support you and your company. I can’t remotely understand what it’s like to be black in America. However, I can choose to not judge people, and I can give my support to African Americans and to businesses that speak out against the institutionalized violence and racism towards them.

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  • June 4, 2020 at 11:15 pm
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    Thank you for your clarification on the looting happening, as the old saying goes 2 wrongs don’t make a right.
    Thank you for standing up and taking a stance. And doing what you can. It’s all any of us can do. To try and do better.

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  • June 5, 2020 at 4:29 am
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    Thank you for stepping up Len, and especially for taking the extra effort to share your strategies for doing more to align your business with your principles.

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  • June 5, 2020 at 8:16 am
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    @Soon-To-Be-Ex-Subscriber: Off the top of my head, I know we’ve had one biracial blogger, one youth biracial reviewer, and a Latina blogger who have worked for us over the years. Is it ideal? Not yet–but it is a start.

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  • June 5, 2020 at 8:16 am
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    Thank you, Chad. It’s good to have you around. We don’t have to agree on everything, as long as we can understand the other side as good people with different values. Let me know if there’s anything I can help with for your next trip!

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  • June 5, 2020 at 9:36 am
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    Fannie Lou,

    I’m curious why you say I’m closed-minded, but to give you the benefit of the doubt, I will check out Douglas Blackmon’s book if you will check out a few of, say, Larry Elder’s videos on Youtube about the subject. What do you say? I’m willing to discuss it.

    I’m also curious… (be honest now), when you read my post, did you automatically assume I was white? (I’m not.)

    Furthermore, for years when I’ve presented the points that I made… well, let’s just say you wouldn’t be the first to dodge the question by saying it’s “nonsense” or “don’t have the time or energy,” but these are tough times so I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt as well.

    Finally, we may not agree about the extent of racism in this country, but I’m sure we agree that change does need to happen. If you go back and read the second half of my post, I’m equally outraged at the faux support people feign because this is the media-worthy story of the month.

    Yes, there should be change, but changing our avatars to black and donating a few bucks to a bunch of white-owned companies isn’t going to do the trick. That’s woke social justice. Every mega-corporation has jumped on this bandwagon of “we support black lives,” yet their actions don’t show it. Are they moving into black communities and helping out? Or are they just virtue signaling from their computers? Are they hiring persons of color (to be fair, I can’t say whether the low numbers of those ethnicities in companies are due to “racist” hiring practices or perhaps just a lower percentage of those groups applying in the first place”).

    I hate to say this, but a lot of people on here would put more time and effort into getting a popcorn bucket than helping black lives. I’m sure deep down they agree with the sentiment, but it’s one thing to be woke on a keyboard and one thing to actually get out and make change.

    So, my question is, what does this country need to do to decrease the institutional racism you believe in? As people we will never be perfect, but personally, I’d argue that before we change the system we need to change our character.

    Second, help me help you. When I hear people ask why BLM only shows up when a black man is killed by a white cop (and unfortunately, sometimes it is justified, just not in Floyd’s case), and not when blacks are killed by blacks? Do you think the media is just race-baiting so we don’t hear about it? I’m sure there’s some BLM members who are outraged at the black-on-black violence and perhaps are protesting, but why do we not see a stronger presence on that? Has BLM publicly denounced looting/violence? Floyd’s brother did. Honest questions.

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  • June 5, 2020 at 9:56 am
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    Now that so many of us have made our comments, let’s put our actions as individuals into practice. We all are (as the song goes) at least a little bit racist, sexist, ageist, etc. That won’t change so easily. The way to deal with that is to be aware of ones prejudices and not act on them. Also be aware of injustices in society and consider what you, as an individual, can do to make a difference. And since this a site of Disney fans, many of whom have children, think about what behaviors you are imparting to your kids. It’s time to stop blogging and make this small world a better world after all.

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  • June 5, 2020 at 11:12 am
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    Thank you for speaking out.

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  • June 5, 2020 at 5:25 pm
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    What happened to Floyd was an outrage. What has happened with the riots is an even greater outrage. Compare the number of deaths and injuries to innocents, property destruction, blacks killed or injured by other blacks, black officers hit with bricks, shot and killed trying to protect the property of innocent people. Do these black lives not matter? Are the only black lives that matter, the persons who completely agree with “Black Lives Matter”
    Where are the demonstrations and outrage when thousands of blacks are killed by blacks in Chicago. Yes there is prejudice against blacks in this country but in general it is not institutional. It is individual. Today an individual acting with such racism is likely to lose their job or be unable to get a government contract or grant.

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  • June 6, 2020 at 7:50 am
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    Thank you for speaking out. Too many in the Disney community have chosen to be silent. As a subscriber who is both black and a woman I appreciate that you own up to how your organization can do better I believe you will make changes and help support the cause.

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  • June 6, 2020 at 10:35 am
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    This is beautifully said! Thank you for posting and moving beyond sentiment to much needed action.

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  • June 8, 2020 at 11:19 am
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    For those who can’t accept and aren’t directly effected by the systemic problem in this country, I understand. It would be easier to sleep at night if I, as an upper middle class white woman, could just ignore these issues and pretend they don’t exist. As human beings, we just can’t doing it anymore and continue to call ourselves human. If you have time, I would recommend watching this sobering video to the end – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wf4cea5oObY

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  • June 16, 2020 at 5:42 pm
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    Thank you for speaking up! We have been subscribers of Touring Plans & have ordered each year of The Unofficial Guide to Disney World & Disney Cruises since 2011 and will continue! There is an entire community of Black Disney Creatives that are often counted out until February . Thank you again for speaking!!!

    Reply

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