“Why Don’t You Just Leave?”

When I complain about the atrocities my country, the United States, has committed and continues to commit, domestically and all around the world, I receive a common inquiry:

“Why don’t you just leave if you hate this country so much?”

My answer is simple: I can’t leave while people remain oppressed and exploited, especially because I am one of the people that benefits from the systems already in place.

As a white person, I can’t just leave this country while black people (and other people of color) remain victims of oppressive institutions and policies. I stay here to fight for those who cannot and vote for those who cannot.

As a cis person, I cannot leave while my friends suffer from discriminatory policies and worry about just going to use the restroom. I stay here to walk with them when they need me, to stand up for them when they need me, and call legislators when they need me.

Of course, every day I watch the news I wish I could escape this country. I wish I could go to a country where there are policies that are more equal, where mass incarceration isn’t as rampant, and where I could feel proud of where I lived.

Staying is more important. I hope I can help change this country. I don’t want to give up because there are millions here being exploited and oppressed and held down by the systems that are in place. Millions of people don’t have the option to leave, so I stay with them.