On Leaving

I have been in London 3 full days now and am finally over my jet lag. When I’ve come to visit in the past, I haven’t allowed myself a full rest recovery period because I’m normally only here for two weeks and eager to do as many things and to see as many people as possible in that short span of time. This ultimately ends with me running on adrenaline my entire time here and needing another vacation (which I never actually get) to recoup once I’ve returned home. Since I know I’ll be around for at least the next 15 months, I’ve given myself more mental and physical room to rest and get accustomed to this massive adjustment. I am very familiar with the city, but feel that I am looking at it through new eyes since I am now living here rather than just visiting and I don’t want to rush into it.

The two months leading up to my arrival in London were very emotional. It was the longest I’ve been home in 7 years and I felt a constant rush of emotions my entire time there – most of which I haven’t actually processed yet, to be perfectly honest. While I was home, Mike Brown was executed in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9th. The attack on black bodies, black PEOPLE, by the state and vigilantes has been going on since before the United States became the United States. As James Baldwin stated, “To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.” I am always in a rage. Sometimes that rage fluctuates between being somewhat bearable and being completely overwhelming, but I am always acutely aware of its presence even if I don’t always refer to or comment on it.

Leaving the States two weeks after Brown’s execution, in the midst of the nationwide protests and the knowledge that his murderer, Police Officer Darren Wilson, had (and has) still not been arrested yet, has left me quite disconcerted. I feel as if I’ve run away from my problems and my community. As more people joined organizing movements against state violence and anti-blackness and began to strategize long-term goals and plans of action, I worried about my visa, luggage allowance, and what classes I’d be taking this year in grad school. All of these things feel very trivial compared to Mike Brown’s killing – the protests, and the systemic use of state violence as a tool to maintain white supremacy and anti-blackness. How can I be involved in affecting long-term change if I’m 10,057 miles from home – a home I was already disconnected from in the first place? I’ve moved around quite a bit over the last 7 years and have found it hard to build a stable community, particularly one that I can be committed to doing anti-oppression work with. I’m hoping that I can continue to offer support to people in the States doing the much needed on the ground work, while I’m here at school gaining skills (particularly those related to documentation such as long-form writing, photography, and film) that will ideally be useful to grassroots anti-oppression practice once I return home.