America: Love It Or Leave It?
Whenever a left-leaning U.S. citizen criticizes this country, some right-leaning citizen is sure to respond with “If you hate America so much, why don’t you just leave?” This is one of the tamer versions of the question asked, intended more as provocation than a genuine query. Of those who respond, many liberals (politicians in particular) are quick to assert that they really do love America, they just want to make it a better place.
I am not one of those who loves America. Hate is a strong word, but it is an appropriate sentiment for how I have felt about this country for the last several years.
On the Fourth of July, 2022, my frustration with living in these disunited states reached an all-time high. As a Black transmasculine person, I could no longer justify or tolerate being a citizen of a country where human rights were at the whim of politicians and dependent on which state one happened to reside in, where mass shootings were a daily occurrence, and where police officers murdered with impunity.
I decided that I had to get out. Having already considered several options, I told my spouse that I wanted to move to Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada. I researched immigration and citizenship requirements and job opportunities. I re-started my study of French on Duolingo; though B.C. is a primarily Anglophone province, being bilingual would improve my chances. I didn’t want to be an expat, I wanted to renounce my American citizenship.
But as much as I wanted to leave, doing so just wasn’t practical. My spouse had a great job and social circle that he was, understandably, very reluctant to give up. I was over 50, with medical issues and few marketable skills. An international move would be difficult and highly disruptive to our lives.
So I resigned myself to staying in the U.S. Despite being an atheist, I found community with the Quakers (Society of Friends), which helped me feel more hopeful and less isolated. I sought out other pacifists and activists who opposed racism, sexism, transphobia, and militarism.
One year later, I’m still not happy to be a citizen of this country. But I’ve come to reflect on several things.