How Discrimination Motivated Me to Become a Nomad
When I graduated from high school, I never thought I would end up being a nomad. I never thought discrimination would be the factor that motivated me to be one.
I was raised in a predominantly African-American neighborhood without Asians or Caucasians as neighbors, but I had a few Hispanic neighbors that lived on street blocks that weren’t too far from mine.
As a young black male raised in the ghetto, I accepted the commonly held beliefs regarding racial inequality, political affiliations, and the acceptance of Christianity as my ticket out of this unfair world. I still believe in racial inequality, but I disavow that being a devout follower of a mainstream religion or political party to solve such a problem.
Hispanics have more in common with African-Americans than any other race, which encouraged me to seek friendship with them. We both shared the same desire of moving out of the ghetto for a better life. This desire birthed my new life as a nomad.
I was curious.
So, I lived in cities around the country for several months at a time until I could find one to call my new home. In each of these cities, I was a racial minority. Although, I saw it as an opportunity to learn, adapt, and integrate myself into the local community.
I did all the things that a new neighbor would do to earn respect and courtesy with their new neighbors. I introduced myself, offered to help at times, attend events to build rapport with local residents, and volunteered for a few nonprofits to establish respect in the community.
In most cities/towns, I suffered from one or more of the following experiences.
- Neighbors posting invitations of gatherings on everyone’s front doors except mine
- Overhearing conversations that some neighbors avoid me because of racial stereotypes
- Being called a nigger when talking to me or overhearing it in a conversation with someone else
Despite my attempts, I only had success in one city. I believe I had more success there, due to its elaborate attempt in becoming the freest state in America. In 2012, I moved to New Hampshire to be a part of the Free State Project movement. Unfortunately, that only lasted for seven months.
There were a few guys that helped me to get settled and connected with the community. Although, they were limited in their involvement due to their busy lives. After enduring a six-month winter, it discouraged me in foreseeing any long-term residency there.
In 2015, I moved to Mexico intending to live there for a year. I learned that it was one of the best decisions of my life. While there were frustrating, cultural differences, the benefits exceeded the challenges.
I know discrimination exists in every country, but I wasn’t a victim of it in Mexico. In the United States, I was a victim of racial discrimination on multiple occasions, which is normal for a black American.
Within the last few decades, the United States has made progress in addressing discrimination. Unfortunately, it is not enough for minorities.
According to a study conducted by California State University, hate crimes have increased for the fourth consecutive year in the largest U.S. cities. Race or ethnic bias is the most common type of hate crime. African-Americans are the most targeted group, being victimized by 23% of last year’s hate crimes.
I find it peculiar that discrimination is discouraged in one realm and encouraged in another realm.
For example, the U.S. government forbids you from using discrimination based on race, religion, nationality, gender, or sexual orientation in hiring or considering someone for housing. Few would disagree that such a practice is wrong.
The U.S. government doesn’t forbid you from using those same types of discrimination in your personal lives, despite its potential of harming others. Maybe you would never use these types of discrimination in your personal life, but the truth is people use these forms of discrimination on a daily basis in their personal lives.
Should we get rid of all discrimination laws? I’m afraid that getting rid of all discrimination laws would hurt minorities (in all forms) more. Vey few minorities would disagree with this theory.
What if we apply discrimination laws in every social aspect of our lives? It will anger many people who appreciate the freedom to use those types of discrimination in their personal lives.
Few people will admit their protest of such laws is because of their personal biases. Instead, they will claim such an attempt bans their freedom of expression, including the freedom to use those types of discrimination.
Should people have the freedom of expression? Yes! Should that freedom of expression include discrimination based on race, nationality, gender, and/or sexual orientation? No!
Unfortunately, the current system of laws are limited, which still encourages discrimination. I know there is no such thing as a “no discrimination” society, but they could expand the current system of laws to protect those likely to be victims of discrimination.
It’ll take decades for society to make significant progress. I will die before I ever see it, which is why I continue to travel in search of a socially accepting society.
I could stand downtown with picket signs to protest the injustice, but I don’t think it’s a good use of my time. Many people have done such acts for years and still haven’t seen the appropriate changes in their community.
Instead, I chose to be a nomad. I have lived multiple U.S. cities in search of a socially accepting society. I haven’t lived in every place in the United States, but I avoid living in big cities for many common reasons. Perhaps, I’m missing out on a town or small city with such a society.
Right now, I find Mexico as being more socially accepting for a black American than the United States. Perhaps, my American privilege contributes to my expat experience.
Originally published in The Good Men Project