For those of us who cannot afford the passing dreams of choice…this instant, and this triumph. We were never meant to survive.
We are black and queer, so our histories of travel are not only voluntary, they are compelled and circumscribed by violence, hate and inequality. We hold the legacies of people on the run. We come from travelers who did not choose their journey to this continent. We come from travelers who dare not run out of gas because segregation and racial hatred in the South meant they could not stop without risking their lives. We come from travelers who were pushed off their land with the threat of lynching and the sanction of law. We come from travelers whose neighborhoods got trampled by new highway plans. We come from travelers who were kicked out of their homes for daring to love across boundaries.
We are black. We are queer and gender-queer women. We are young, with wild and self-determined hair. We don’t look like we’re from around here.
What then does it mean for us to be safe on the road?
Safety vs. Security
Because this mobile homecoming journey honors the ferocity of queer elders who have been criminalized, who have navigated the world without the privileges that afford people security in this land. Because the police have been mobilized not only against black queer people, but also against blackness and queerness themselves in this land. Because of necessity and vision. Because we know the limits of the state and because we CHOOSE to create something different and better for ourselves, we must remember the difference between safety and security.
Security, to us, means having the upper hand in an unsafe situation. Security, to many, means having access to the violent means that the state uses to defend itself, the police, the national guard, the private security forces that companies use to protect their wealth. For those of us, black, queer, young, radical, and grassroots, who are not often seen as part of the state’s project to reproduce itself (except when we are targeted as consumers) those sources of security are not dependable. As far as we can tell security comes from weapons. And only works if you got more, faster, bigger weapons than whoever makes you insecure. Maybe we could achieve security if our mobile home was a fortress, if we attached an alarm system with missiles, or a system that sent an electroshock through anyone who touched it. None of these things, however would make us safe. And methods like that would surely make the more low-tech partner on the trip, likely to be the first to trip the booby trap, and our comrades less safe.
We acknowledge that in a world where violence against queer and gender queer young people of color is common, security is not a light matter. We have also decided, however, that security is not enough. Our intention is for our journey to be SAFE.
Safety, to us, means being able to be comfortable in our skin, having the freedom to move, being able to sleep restfully and wake renewed and excited about the journey. Safety comes from knowing that we are held by a community that has our backs. Safety comes from knowing that all along the road there are home-spaces with comrades who will welcome us and who will answer if we call on them. Safety comes from relationships and people.
And safety comes from having a plan. Our safety plan for this journey involves each of you. Instead of hoping for security in the random parking lots/campsites that we could accidentally happen on along the road, we have decided to plan for safety. We plan to never ever ever drive when we should be sleeping, which means we will be stopping often. In order to stop in safety, we will be contacting loved ones and comrades all over the country who will know when we are near. We may park in the driveways of loved ones, we may park at campsites nearby, and let comrades know where we are, and that we might call on them if we need any form of help.
We remember the stories of ancestors and elders who navigated road trips through dangerous places, like the segregated southeastern United States by staying with kindred spirits who they knew, or who they were connected to through a network created from necessity. Our safety plan is inspired by these legacies and will involve a network of comrades and kindred who are aligned with the vision of the project and who are affirm our queerness, our genderqueerness, our proud blackness, our youth. Your love and respect are what will allow us to feel and be safe.
Our hope is that this network of kindred will draw on and contribute to an ongoing process through which progressive kindred can connect to each other. We look forward to sharing stories, hearing stories, making friends, discovering commonalities, falling in love, meeting your kids, exchanging recipies. We know that our need for each other is mutual and much bigger than the logistical need for places to refuel and rest. We also hope that as we connect with you, and connect you to each other, future travelers will be able to know where there are safe couches to sleep on, people to call if they need help or folks to connect with if they move to a new town.
The world that we want to live in is a community, where needs are shared and met, where difference is affirmed, where people stand up for each other and open themselves up to love and the possibility of life. We celebrate and thank you for your participation in this journey!!!!
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