But Where O' Where Can We Be Safe?

I want to say it is simply a sign of the times. Where is it safe for me to wonder?  I am caught between where I do belong and equally as threatened when I cave into wanderlust? For the longest I'd been working on something to reflect the climate of racism and violence in America. That focus has blurred into so many other topics stemming from the origin of police violence to just human interaction anywhere on this planet. I hate to be the bearer of bad news - but I personally do not feel safe anywhere anymore. To make things worse - this is not an instinctual or intentional choice. My fear is involuntary. I have never been the type to be afraid. However, now I am made to be afraid of going anywhere, be it overseas or down the street.

When the police violence began its streak this early Fall I was far removed. I was in the confines of North Carolina where I felt excluded from that. Then it occurred to me that people everywhere could feel entitled to an opinion - be that a peaceful alignment or violent partisanship. I began to walk the dog in a specific perimeter and make sure not to wear a hood at night. Sadly, I had to think this way because incidents that occurred from being in the wrong place and or wearing a hood ended in death for people like me. I was calculating the best plan of how to prepare for ignorance and others instincts. It all became less about me and my comfort. It was more about how can I make others feel that I am less threatening than I may appear. 

Florida is not a safe place. It is full of transients, foreigners, scammers and racists. To live here you make a choice. I know in North Carolina I can leave my front door unlocked and my keys in my car - even in a poor neighborhood because it is the "country". Florida may have its remote places but the majority of it is a metropolis where all shores are open to whatever pirates and good ole boys want to settle. It is never about should I leave something unlocked. It is more about where would I venture looking like me. There are places where police are vicious. There are places where neighborhoods are unwelcoming. There are sections that are notorious for crime. However, I never thought where I wound up moving to would be a perfect synergy. 

I am minutes from downtown and the freaks do come out at night. I commute through places and counties where cops single people like me out. My community is full of types who personally feel like I do not belong. There is also a strange reverse gentrification happening here (more on that later) and I'm the odd man out. People have been extremely obvious about how they feel. I can walk ten blocks with nothing but mean stares. I can enter a store I've visited a thousand times as a younger person but now that I aim to buy something I am mistreated. It has occurred to me that I can be well versed AND well traveled and still be that little Black girl that must not be able to afford anything. It is troubling because I am trying to see it from their perspective. Here is this niche community yet to be infiltrated from the likes of me but thanks to Obama here I come. I get it. Surely, I get it.

Then if I just felt like I didn't belong here and opted to be an expat or a constant traveler there are even higher stakes. Firstly, I don't look or act the part because I will always be an American. Then there is the aspect of all the things that I condone in my own country because I allow my government and certain groups of people to rule over me. Lastly, there is a bargaining for people like me - I can be easily persuaded, frauded, stolen from, kidnapped or bartered. That is truly relevant as we see random people from all countries that don't fit the part held hostage for whatever demands or crossing into the dark side. These incidents have probably thwarted many plans to travel, study or move abroad. The threat and or the chance of a threat is just too damn high. I guess it all boils down to personal preference. 

Where exactly do you feel safe?

I have asked myself this question a thousand times in the last month. For you, it may seem that I am safest from my kitchen table and behind a laptop screen. At least here I can explore the places I would rather be and imagine that they are the most welcoming, safest and amazing places to go. What I want most is to return to a time where I didn't have to plan ahead. I'd like for people to remember their manners and how to respect others. I would prefer a peaceful planet where everyone is steadfast innovating and collaborating. I would like to see that place where people weren't treated as objects. I would like for travel to be a gateway to understanding. I want to hold people accountable for their actions. I want to admire those that uphold the law and protect us as a people. I want to walk down my street and get one "hello". I want to be potential. I want to be positive. I really want to put on my hoodie and walk my friggin' dogs without thinking twice. Safeness. That is the only thing we all should be entitled to. 

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