fight or flight

generally speaking, i think our most primitive reactions are of little use to us. evolution required us to need to be able to do things to survive that most (not all) of us don’t need to do anymore.

however, after living through yesterday, all i can think about is fight or flight.

on one hand, obviously, this is my country and fighting for it seems like an obvious choice. america is the only home i have ever known (even if my ancestors were almost definitely dragged here against their will).

one of my favorite quotes goes something like “you can’t truly change something unless you see yourself as a part of it.” so, here i am, an american citizen, and i should fight for this country to be what i know it says it can be, what it’s founding documents say it wants to be, but isn’t yet.

but then on the other hand, i’m like… fuck it. this country has perpetually treated the slave, the foreigner, the outsider, like shit. why stick around in a place that is so systemically unwelcome?

not only that, but some of us are more vulnerable than others. straight, white, cis-gendered men, regardless of where they stand, aren’t likely to have physical attacks on them go up over the next four years. sure, many attacks on them continue (because almost all violent crime is committed by and against people of the same race), but that’s not what i’m worried about.

what i’m worried about is being targeted as a queer, black man. i still have all sorts of privilege (cis-gendered, educational privilege), but all it takes is one person with a bullet and a gun to end me and right now, people who don’t like black people are feeling real bold.

yesterday, a friend posted this on facebook:

“‘we’re about to own you again.’

This was said to my black boyfriend as he left a business meeting last night.”

over the last many months, i have developed much stronger connections to the jewish community in boston. the shared histories of oppression between jewish people and black people (though there are some important differences) is something that often makes me remember that cross-boundary organizing is possible and necessary. but i can’t help but think about all the stories i’ve read and heard, in books, movies, and from peoples’ mouths. the “why didn’t they just leave earlier?"s and the "we knew it was crazy, but we just didn’t know how crazy it really was until it was too late"s and the "fighting was important, but now that entire branch of my family is gone"s and the "i wish they had just fled and lived to fight another day"s.

when is too much? when is too late? will i regret the moment(s) i had to get out and prepare safe spaces for family and friends?

i’m real torn, right now. america is all i’ve ever known and, on good days, i can genuinely imaging dying to make it the place it could be, not for its own sake, but for the sake of other humans, for the sake of people who shouldn’t have to die because of who they are. if we can’t figure this out in america, it’s not clear to me it can be done anywhere. i did used to always say that if i hadn’t found a cause to die for by the age Jesus died, i was doing something wrong. 

but still, is it worth my life? is it worth bashing myself against the rocks for something that was potentially well-intended, but rotten from the start? this land is stolen and we scarcely acknowledge it. black people, women, brown people, queer people, forever, have been told systemically and literally that they/we don’t matter. who wants to stay around to fix a system that tells you you don’t matter, that your life is worth less?

feeling real torn.