Black Americans: Stay and Fight? Or Book a Flight?
On this episode of democracy-ish, our hosts debate whether to leave it all behind. America, that is.
Our country is deeply unwell, and not just because of COVID-19. Or Trump, actually.
America’s never been all that great, especially for people of color. Is it our responsibility to work towards its promise, or can we seek a life free from fear outside its shores?
Wakanda might be fictional, but our wanderlust is real.
Toure and Danielle come to you this week in yet another perilous moment in the history of our nation.
“If it was a soap opera, we would be saying: Look at them, ravaged by a moronic leader, a disease, struggling to deal with racism,” says Toure. “Will they survive until next week?
Stay tuned … or, if it’s too much to bear, should we change the channel entirely?
If you’ve been watching this story a while, you know America’s shitstorm made landfall well before Hurricane Trump ever blew into Washington.
So, is our democracy irrevocably broken? Or should we keep fighting for it?
“There has to be a better life,” Danielle says. “Even as just an intellectual exercise, we have to be able to think about something else than what we’ve been given.”
Episode Highlights –– Should We Leave America?
America’s in critical condition
On Election Night in 2016, Toure’s wife, who immigrated to the U.S. from Lebanon, suggested that perhaps they could just ... leave.
“The idea of moving to another country is not foreign to her,” he explains. “But I've never lived anywhere else other than America. I asked her: If your friend, or your mother, God forbid, was in a very serious medical condition … would you run from her?”
“Or would you say no, I'm sleeping overnight at the hospital until she gets better?
America is critically ill right now, Toure says.
“If the well-meaning, thoughtful, progressive Black and Brown people were to leave for Canada, Jamaica, France, wherever –– what would happen to America?” he asks.
“I don't know,” Danielle says. “White people can have it.”
We can’t abandon this country in its hour of need, Toure counters. We need good, smart people to protest, vote and work to make it better. “We do that at a certain risk,” he adds “Perhaps I have male privilege … and you're like, my body is at risk. But I want to stay and fight.”
Stay ‘free-ish’ or seek liberation?
In the framework of Toure’s analogy, Danielle asks: “What if it's terminal? What if America has been on fucking life support for 500 years?”
Using the 1964 Civil Rights Act as a marker, “we've only been free-ish for 56 years,” she adds.
But it’s 2020 and Black people are still being murdered in the streets ––– and trying to convince white people of their humanity.
Danielle wonders: What if we think America may not recover?
“Do I stop living?” she asks. “Do I stop trying to seek joy and freedom in a different context? Do I stay imprisoned in this place that has never seen me more than an animal to be caged?”
Danielle loves America, but she’s fearful of where we are and where we’re going.
“I’m not under any false assumption that a free and fair election will take place in November,” she says. “And even if it does, that anything is substantially going to change.”
She thinks we should ask ourselves what liberation and exodus proponents asked in the 1960s: “Is this country worth more of our blood, tears and pain –– if, in return, we're getting nothing?”