Why I Decided to Leave the US
...or America got me f*cked up!
As I made my way back from the Philippines to the states in July 2016, I learned about the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, all in the midst of white America's Independence Day. I was quite overwhelmed and sad when I got back and felt the urgency to make a major life change.
It's not that I was surprised by what was happening, but rather exhausted and hopeless that nothing ever changes. Then some of y'all elected that man who is currently in White House and it just affirmed my decision it was time to go. It really clicked in my mind at any moment, I could be Alton, Philando, Sandra or [insert the name of a black person unjustly murdered by the state].
I remember, a couple of weeks after the presidential election, me and my friend were driving through Pennsylvania headed to Penn State to visit our friend who was a football coach there. There was quite a bit of traffic headed to the big playoff game and we noticed, as black folks tend to do, there weren't many other black (or brown) folks headed to this game. With the election results still fresh in my mind, I let my friend know we were in Trump country and we planned on not making any unnecessary stops.
So we're moseying along, flowing with traffic, when we happened upon a state trooper sitting around a bend. He put his lights on and we're not sure at first if he's coming for us because while we were a little over the speed limit, there were definitely cars ahead of us over too, but we found out shortly he was definitely coming for us.
We started asking ourselves: why didn't he pull over the white people in the white car just ahead of us? Why did my friend have to be wearing a durag, puffy coat, and timbs? Why did he choose to rent the black camaro? Why did I have to have faux locs in my hair? Should I record the stop? Is today the day we're going to die trying to see these damn nittany lions? We laughed while asking ourselves these questions because black folks have mastered the art of humor as a coping mechanism for racism.
Long story short, we survived the encounter (with a ticket), but when you think about it, living in America while black is stressful and traumatic in ways I don't think we fully understand yet. Why do we go through this mental processing in situations like this? Why do we carry with us, a real fear of seemingly normal encounters with law enforcement and white folks, going sideways in the blink of an eye? Why I am subjecting myself to this stress when I have a choice?
Leaving the USA
So, I decided to leave. When something is no longer serving you, it's time to let it go. I'm not leaving forever, in fact, I'll be back in a few months. I just needed to create some space for myself and not be "black in America" for a little while.