America is a breathtaking country with vast abundance. The topography is majestic and humbling. America is home to many; firstly the Native Americans, secondly, to those who disembarked on its shores, the descendants of European settlers, the descendants of slaves brought from Africa, and a melting pot of other wonderful cultures from around the world. As beautiful and plentiful as it is, this fertile land’s history has been marred by violence, greed and an unassailable quest for power, dominance and superiority. Even though there is space for everyone, men in authority limit its promise to those who look like them.
This is the complex history of America in a tiny pill. A radically powerful capsule which we all have ingested with varying benefits and comparable levels of demise. Despite the rancid taste the history of America has left on many of our tongues, we still love our home. It’s as the saying goes, “home is where the heart is.” For many of us, this is the only home we’ve ever known. And the truth is, America’s slice of Mother Earth nurtures and comforts us (god save her, as we continue to destroy her resources), and is not complicit in the abuses of those in power.
That being said, driving across the U.S. is a unique and magical journey that everyone should take at some point in their lives, whether it be to solely to witness the country’s astounding beauty, to fulfill some personal existential impulse like Jack Kerouac and friends in “On the Road”, or just to come to terms with your identity as a U.S. citizen.
At the beginning of August, Saidah and I completed the Wisconsin to Washington road trip that I wrote about in Heart Medicine, An American Road Trip. At the very outset of our trip, we learned of Nia Wilson’s murder. As our speedometer began to pile up with mileage, messages of concern rolled in. Friends who were worried about our safety as black women traveling alone with a small child reached out. And honestly, while planning the trip we took many precautions (like renting a satellite phone and signing up for the On Star road service) to ensure continuous communication and an incident-free journey. But, Nia Wilson’s tragic death still sent shock waves through us. As we processed the horrific details of her murder, the spirit of defiance to the Trump administration which had inspired us in the first place was emboldened. We resolved that fear would not be an option; retreating into a confined place was out of the question, and reclaiming the fruits of the land that our ancestors reaped with their own blood was the tip of the needle that would guide us throughout our travels.
What we found on our trip regarding American racism was contrary to what we expected, and weighted with surprise. Saidah and I share our impressions in this video, which we filmed in response to your comments and messages. Have a look, and please leave comments so that we can continue the conversation. I’m sure important insights will emerge, which we can take with us into the mid-term elections and beyond.
Continue to resist and reclaim your space.